By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
About 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal sinuses commonly known as a sinus infection, each year and for many this is a chronic problem that can seriously affect the quality of your life. Most cases of sinusitis are treated with antibiotics, which may help to cover up symptoms in the short-term but are a disaster when used in the long-term.
Sinusitis can be acute or chronic, and can last for months or years if not addressed. Symptoms vary for each type but can include:
And despite constant treatment with antibiotics, many people's sinusitis continues to return. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, not only is sinusitis one of the most expensive disorders in the United States, but also its prevalence is on the rise, indicating that the common treatment methods are not getting to the root of the problem.
So what is the root of the problem? Researchers have found that most cases of chronic sinusitis are not caused by infection but are actually an immune disorder caused by fungus. In a 1999 study, the researchers discovered that fungal organisms were present in the mucus of 96 percent of patients who had surgery for chronic sinusitis, and inflammatory cells were clumped around the fungi, which meant the condition was an immune disorder caused by fungus.
Fungus and mold spores are in the air all the time and are commonly inhaled so most people have fungi lodged in the mucus lining of the sinuses. However, only people who are prone to chronic sinusitis will experience an immune response to the fungi that results in the symptoms of sinusitis.
They took the research a bit further and in the next study found that a fungicide was effective in decreasing inflammation and nasal swelling among participants suffering from chronic sinusitis. The researchers are hoping the study will lead to the development of new antifungal medications to treat the condition.
Although antifungals may be more effective than antibiotics--antibiotics make fungal infections worse--there are other steps you can take to lessen your risk of sinus infections by getting at the underlying cause.
Make Your Body Less Hospitable to Fungus
As the body attempts to destroy the fungus, the immune system damages the sinus membranes, which causes the symptoms of sinusitis, the researchers say. To combat the fungus and prevent the immune system reaction, you'll need to create an environment that makes it more difficult for fungus to thrive. Here are the top ways to do this:
- Avoid Eating Sugar or Grains
Fungus feeds on sugar and grains (which break down to sugar in your body), so reducing or eliminating these foods is necessary to keep fungus under control.
- Consume Fish or Cod Liver Oil
Consume a high quality cod liver oil or fish oil every day. The high order omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA are essential to maintaining and improving your immune system. Don't get fooled by taking any general omega-3 supplement. The ALA in flax seed oil won't give you the same benefits. Not only will cod liver oil or fish oil improve your sinus infection, but they will also improve your health and brain and reduce your risk of cancer and Alzheimer's.
- Eat Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. However, be careful with which oil you choose, as many coconut oils contain fungal toxins. This is because they are commonly made with copras, or dried coconuts, which are often contaminated with mycotoxins. So in order to fully enjoy the benefits of this coconut oil, you will want to be sure that you find a company that uses only fresh coconuts to make their oil, like the Tropical Traditions virgin coconut oil on this site.
- Avoid Eating the Top 10 Mycotoxic Foods
Here's a list of the top 10 foods that are contaminated with mycotoxins (fungal toxins) that need to be avoided.
Physical activity causes the sinuses to expand and stimulates air circulation and cleansing mucus to move through the sinuses. This will help to clear out any particles that are contributing to the irritation.
Similarly, a past study found that humming increases the amount of air exhaled from the nose and facilitated the exchange of air from sinuses into nasal passages, which could lower the risk of sinus infections if done routinely.
Clear Your Sinuses Without Medication
To help clear sinuses that are congested, you can consider washing the nasal cavities with a solution of salt and room temperature purified water. Breathing in certain essential oils can also be beneficial. The Clenzology Advanced Hygiene System can help irrigate and clean your sinues without the use of potentially harmful antibiotics.