Sinus symptoms have been especially frequent lately.
They are common this time of year. But here are some steps you can take to prevent, and treat them...
1. Start with DietFortunately for you there are quite a few easy steps you can take that have a big impact:
Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. As excellent sources of the mast cell stabilizer, Quercitin, fruit and vegetables can reduce the frequency and severity of allergies that may precipitate sinus congestion or infections.
Also, by boosting the immune system fruits and vegetables can also reduce the frequency and duration of colds and viral infections affecting the sinuses. For the best results, emphasize capers, citrus, fresh herbs, and leafy greens. If you have a hard time getting enough fruits and vegetables in, download our daily tally card to keep you on track.
Unknown food allergies can also be a big contributing factor. Foods that irritate your digestive system stimulate the production of phlegm and mucus. If you feel increased mucus in your throat after consuming a particular food, chances are good that it is contributing to your sinus congestion. If dairy is an issue for you, check out our article on A2 milk.
2. Fix your PostureIncreased muscle tension in the shoulders, neck, upper back and pec muscles can trigger referral pain patterns that result in pain in the sinuses. More importantly, muscle tension in these areas also reduces lymphatic circulation resulting in a slower immune response to pathogens in the sinuses, making infections more frequent. Lastly, circulation and drainage of the sinuses can be impeded by structural problems associated with muscle tension in the upper neck and facial muscles, resulting in more congestion and more pressure.
Here's a good exercise for relaxing the neck, head and upper back:
-Imagine a string drawn from the top of the head up to ceiling is suspending you. Stretch up towards the ceiling from the top of your head.
-Now lift your shoulders up towards your ears and inhale.
-Roll your shoulders back, exhale, and let your shoulders drop.
-Roll your hips side to side feeling for any tension or asymmetries, relax into a neutral position in the hip.
-Carefully hold this position and take large, yawning breaths. If you did it right you may feel your ears pop. Nice job!
3. Hydrate!Your body needs fluids to support healthy circulation through the sinuses. The best fluids are warm liquids such as tea and broths. Sweet drinks, and dairy are likely to increase your congestion. Ideally, you should have water available to you all day. If you keep it next to you at your desk or work, and in your vehicle, chances are you'll drink enough without even trying.
4. Practice the Ancient Technique of Guasha. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, guasha is a technique done to increase circulation and reduce inflammation in a specific region, meridian or tissue. In the case of sinus congestion, you want to perform the Guasha on the upper back, on either side of the spine.
To perform guasha, you'll need a flat tool with a blunt edge, the ceramic soup spoons you get at a Chinese Restaurant are an ideal implement, but you can also use a ladle, the rim of a coffee mug, or the handle of a comb. Apply some lotion of oil to the skin, then scrap down the skin from top to bottom, applying a little bit of pressure. It shouldn't be painful, but you should use enough pressure to turn the skin red.
This opens up the lymphatic drainage from the throat and sinuses to help drain the fluid, but also transport antigens from the bacteria or virus present in the sinus cavity to the rest of the immune system so that antibodies can be formed to respond to the infection.
Work with a Professional!Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Targeted Nutritional Recommendations can take treatment to the next level, and treat the root causes of your sinus congestion.Often, there is an underlying cause for frequent sinus congestion. Often stemming from issues in the digestive system. Working with a practitioner for these symptoms can speed up recovery, as well as prevent future illness manifesting from the same cause.
We'd love to hear from you. What works for you when you get sinus congestion? Any questions about treatment or management?
I'm Kieran, clinician and founder at The Parani Clinic. I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, and functional medicine practitioner for the past 10 years. I have a deep curiosity in health, biology, culture, medicine, history, and a healthy obsession with the pursuit of the perfect state of health.