Do you wake up with a stuffy head and mucus in your throat? Do you feel as if you always have a cold? You may be suffering from sinusitis, the most common condition in the 18 to 45 years age group. Your sinuses are eight spaces in the bones of the forehead, cheeks and temples. Although they help you to breathe, they also prevent breathing sometimes, when they get inflamed and fill with mucus.
Healthy, open sinuses are lined with mucus to help ensure that the air you take into your lungs is moist, warm and free from dust, dirt and pollutants. When the sinus lining is inflamed, swollen and full of mucus, the condition is called sinusitis. Sinusitis often occurs when you have a cold and clears up when the cold ends. But if the drainage is blocked, pressure increases and can cause pain, discomfort, sinus headaches and swelling around your eyes and ears.
Around one third of sinus infections start from colds. Symptoms like blocked sinuses, congestion and headaches usually originate from the cold, so when these symptoms keep reappearing, people tend to assume it’s just a persistent cold. Another third of sinusitis cases have origins in allergy attacks, while other cases may be linked to asthma. Viruses, bacteria and environmental allergens (such as cigarette smoke and pollution) have all been identified as causes of sinusitis.
Sinusitis can vary in its severity and length. Acute sinusitis tends to resolve after a few weeks, while chronic sinus problems can appear more frequently, and for longer periods of time. The two types of sinus infection tend to have the same symptoms, although in chronic sinusitis they can be increased. These include common symptoms of a cold, as well as wider effects on your body and lifestyle, such as:
- sleep disturbances
- difficulty breathing
- nasal congestion
- sinus headaches
- tension across the forehead and cheeks
- sore throat
How does Chiropractic help? The answer is that if your body is working properly, your resistance to germs, dust, temperature changes and other stresses is high. A healthy body has properly draining sinuses. Relieving stress on the nervous system and body structure will help your body work more efficiently and help ensure that the skull bones move freely and “breathe”, permitting body fluids to drain without interference. Treatment generally involves soft massage of the nose, forehead and cheeks, to release the pressure on the sinus cavities and allow for free drainage of fluids.
You can also take some measures to reduce your chance of developing chronic sinusitis. Wash your hands to avoid contracting colds, maintain a balanced diet to ward off infection, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, which stimulates sinus inflammation, and maintain regular chiropractic adjustments to keep the immune system healthy. Prevention of sinus infection is much less painful and debilitating then treatment!