Sinus trouble is one of the most common complaints treated by allergists. The basic problem is swollen, inflamed mucous membranes in the sinuses – eight hollow cavities behind your nose, cheeks and forehead. The swelling blocks the sinus openings that lead to the nose. Trapped mucus then presses against the sinus walls, so that your entire upper face and forehead feel painful and tender. And your nose is stopped up. But if you blow your nose too hard, the pressure forces mucus in the sinuses even harder against the sinus walls, inflaming the area all the more.
In allergic people, sinusitis usually affects those with chronic hay fever. It can also be caused by an infection like the type that accompanies a cold.
The first thing to do for allergic sinusitis is drain the sinuses. Applying a warm flannel to the face thins mucus and coaxes secretions out of sinus cavities. (Run the flannel under hot water to warm it, but be careful that the flannel doesn’t get too hot, or you’ll burn your face.) You can also breathe warm mist from a kettle of boiling water. (Don’t get too close to the steam or you’ll scald yourself.) Or you can drink a mug or two of steaming herb tea. Herbalists say that fenugreek is good for breaking up mucus.
Using nasal decongestant sprays or drops is not a good idea. They help reduce the swelling temporarily, but your sinuses will flare up worse than ever when you discontinue the drug. Oral decongestants aren’t ideal, either – they tend to make you jumpy and irritable. Instead of drugs, try vitamin Ñ. It acts as a natural antihistamine, shrinking swollen sinuses and reducing the hay fever reaction.
For complete relief of allergy-induced sinusitis, use the methods outlined in this book to avoid whatever triggers your hay fever. Doing that will prevent not only sinus pain but also permanent damage to sinuses – and uncontrolled sinusitis can lead to post-nasal drip, in which excess mucus from sinuses drips down your throat. If you don’t take good care of your sinuses now, they’ll bother you nonstop later on.