If you're looking for a prescription for treating sinusitis, physician Rob Ivker has one for you.
In his book "Sinus Survival: The Holistic Medical Treatment for Sinusitis, Allergies and Colds," he refers to
sinusitis as the "cold" that won't go away.
Chronic sinusitis is defined as persistent inflammation and/or infection that lasts longer than 12 weeks. The most common respiratory condition in the U.S., sinusitis affects more than 40 million people.
As a result of his own lingering sinus problems, the doctor developed a holistic program for himself, his patients and thousands of readers.
The first step is learning to love your nose enough to make a commitment to the holistic approach, which integrates conventional and complementary therapies.
It requires taking specific nutritional supplements, making dietary changes, drinking more water and regularly irrigating the nasal passages. He believes that one of the most overlooked influences on immunity is sleep.
Risk factors for sinusitis include overuse of antibiotics, smoking, allergies, dry air and dental problems. Experts agree that diet also affects sinus health. Some culprits include mucus-forming milk and dairy products, sugar and caffeine. Sinus membranes may swell from too much salt in the diet or from alcohol consumption.
According to nutritionist Gary Null, most sinus sufferers are overly acidic. Eating more alkaline-forming foods, such as fruits and vegetables, help get the body (and sinuses) back in balance again.
The holistic approach to sinus care includes taking antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C and E), plus the minerals zinc and selenium.
In addition, probiotics (acidophilus) strengthen the immune system and restore the beneficial bacteria affected by antibiotics. Also helpful: essential fatty acids, echinacea, ginger, turmeric and high potency garlic extracts.
Bromelain, the pineapple enzyme, helps reduce swelling and mucus production. When mucus backs up in the nose, it creates a prefect breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and fungi. Flushing out mucus will wash out dust, pollen and irritants, reduce the risk of sinus infections and alleviate post-nasal drip.
Some people sniff warm salt water up their noses or use solutions of chlorophyll or cider vinegar.
Andrew Weil, an integrative physician, strongly recommends nasal irrigation using a neti pot, a spouted device that resembles Aladdin's magical lamp.
Studies show that people who consistently use this washing method have fewer symptoms and use less medication.
Do-it-yourself treatments to open clogged sinuses can be quite effective. A hot washcloth applied over the sinus area helps break up congestion. So does steam inhalation with the addition of a few drops of eucalyptus oil. Some people claim relief from eating freshly grated horseradish, while others prefer chewing raw garlic cloves. Finger pressure (acupressure) applied to specific points on the face, feet and hands, often reduces uncomfortable sinus pressure.
Many practitioners recommend natural homeopathic nasal sprays or tablets, which are known for their safety. They have no side effects or interactions and are suitable for children.
Another convenient option comes from Switzerland in the form of a pocket inhaler containing menthol and oils of cajeput and eucalyptus. It's a pleasant way to clear nasal passages and increase airflow to sinuses and lungs.
Dr. Riker and other specialists have come to recognize that certain emotions contribute to sinus problems, especially stress, sadness and repressed anger. That may be why relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises work better for some people than conventional sinus treatments.
Apparently, while you are learning to love your sinuses, you might also learn to love your whole body and your life.
The information in this article is for educational purposes. Consult your physician if you have a medical condition.
Margot Bennett is a licensed nutritionist at Mother Nature's Pantry, located in the Garden Square Shoppes, 4513 PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens. Call her at (561) 626-4461.