Treating sinusitis using Chinese Medicine

The typical symptoms of sinusitis includes profuse nasal discharge (clear, green or yellow), swollen, painful, tender frontal and maxillary sinuses or the sensation of blockage and pressure in the sinus region, post nasal drip (mucous draining into the back of the throat), frontal headache, and a foggy, heavy head.

Sinusitis often appears during pregnancy which is very annoying as most women prefer not to use Western medicine drugs while pregnant.  Fortunately Chinese medicine offers sufferers an effective, drug-free, natural option.

Acute sinusitis

Acute sinusitis is more commonly associated with the seasons and typically preceded or aggravated by bursts of either hot, humid windy weather or cold windy weather.  It tends to be the consequence of inflammation and infection of the sinuses onset by or following a cold or flu attack.

The sinus cavities are very narrow and during an infection the nasal mucosa becomes inflamed and swollen causing fluids to pool in the sinuses which impedes healthy sinus drainage. These stagnant, coagulating fluids can easily become infected.

The compromised movement of ear, nose and throat fluids can make full recovery difficult and predispose a person to chronic, recurrent sinus infection.

This type of sinusitis is more common in those who experience repeated, frequent colds and flus and a low immune system.

This type of sinusitis is relatively easily treated with Chinese Medicine.

Chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is more commonly the type that we see in clinic. It is not uncommon for sufferers to have a long history of many years of repeated sinusitis infection and frequent antibiotic, cortisone and over-the-counter anti-histamine use.  The problem with these symptomatic treatment approaches is that the underlying cause of the sinusitis often goes untreated.

Antibiotics treat the secondary infection by killing ‘bad’ disease causing bacteria while knocking out healthy body bacterial flora. They do little to prevent the infection from reoccurring.

Nasal sprays merely dry up pathological or non-useful fluids but unfortunately drying out normal, healthy, moisturising secretions which play an essential role in lubricating and protecting the sinuses against infection.  Cortisone medications symptomatically treat superficial inflammation of the sinus tissue, not the root or constitutional imbalance that caused the problem in the first place.

The Chinese Medicine approach

The Chinese have a saying that ‘…the digestion makes phlegm and the lungs (and sinuses) are the storehouse of phlegm…’ Another way of seeing phlegm is as non-useful or pathological fluids that linger in the body and gather especially in the cavities of the body.

Not surprisingly phlegm plays an important role in the manifestation of chronic sinusitis.

In order to further understand the Chinese Medicine perspective it is useful to consider that the Chinese believe that certain areas of the body pertain to certain internal organs.  In particular the forehead and frontal region which is affected by sinusitis corresponds to the stomach.

If you’ve ever had ‘brain freeze’ from taking icy cold drinks then you will know that as the liquid hits the stomach your body reacts by producing a sensation in the frontal sinuses and forehead.  This is the pathway of the stomach channel and explains the important role of the digestion in the manifestation of sinusitis symptoms.

Those with this type of sinusitis will also notice that their symptoms are typically worse in the morning because the phlegm fluids pool in the sinuses overnight when resting.  Their sinusitis is usually accompanied by a foggy, muzzy head, body heaviness and fatigue. They might also notice an exacerbation of symptoms with the consumption of greasy, hot, spicy food.

As such dietary modification can be an important part of preventing recurrence.

Chinese Medicine Treatment

Initial Chinese medicine treatment for sinusitis consists of clearing heat and sinus inflammation, unblocking the nose to facilitate breathing and sinus drainage and drying up residual phlegm. Acupuncture is especially useful in the acute phase.

Once the acute symptoms subside then attention can be turned toward strengthening the immune system to prevent recurrence which usually involves longer term herbal medicine and lifestyle and dietary modification.

If you suffer from sinusitis and would like more information contact our clinic on (03) 9596 5663.