The sinuses are bony cavities behind, above and at each side of the nose and opening into the nasal cavity. They act as a sound-box to give resonance to the voice - this can perhaps be best understood by considering how flat and lacking in resonance the voice sounds when the nose and its associated cavities are blocked.
The sinuses are lined with mucous membrane similar to that lining the nose, and infection from the nose can easily spread into the sinuses. Because the openings from the nose into the sinuses are very narrow, they quickly become blocked when the mucous membrane of the nose becomes swollen during a cold, hayfever or catarrh, and then the infection is trapped inside the sinus.
Acute attacks of sinusitis may follow a cold, etc., or be brought on by cold, damp air. An acute attack can be extremely painful, with headaches so severe that it is impossible to move the head without pain. The sufferer may feel quite ill, and possibly have a raised temperature. Acute sinusitis needs prompt treatment, as there is a risk, although admittedly very small, of the infection spreading inwards to cause meningitis.
Chronic (i.e. long-term) sinusitis gives rise to dull pain, in the forehead and/or in the area between eyes and cheekbone, with a continually stuffy feeling in the nose. This, too, should be treated very thoroughly, to be sure of eradicating all traces of infection.
Frequent (up to 5 or 6 times a day) steam inhalations are the best treatment. Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Pine, Thyme and Tea tree oils are all effective, and you should alternate several of these. Lavender and Thyme are the most effective when there is much pain, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Pine are very good at relieving the blockage and stuffiness, while Tea tree is the most powerful antiseptic of these - very important in eradicating the infection.
Garlic decongests, detoxifies and disinfects, so include plenty of fresh garlic in the diet of anybody prone to sinusitis, and during an acute attack give garlic in the more concentrated form of tablets or capsules.
Certain foods, especially dairy produce and wheat, seem to pre-dispose people towards sinusitis, because they provoke excessive formation of mucus. During an acute attack of sinusitis all dairy and wheat-based foods must be exluded for several days, and people who have chronic or repeated attacks, are advised to exclude these foods completely for several months, and then reintroduce them in very small amounts, if at all. Goat and sheep's milk products are sometimes better tolerated than cow's milk.
Special techniques of facial massage can be used to encourage drainage of mucus from the nose and sinuses, but during a severe attack these may be too uncomfortable for the patient. They can be introduced after a day or two, or whenever steam inhalations have reduced the congestion enough for the massage to be tolerable. Very light drumming (tapottement) over the area of the affected sinuses is used, together with pressure on appropriate acupuncture points and sweeping circles round the eyebrow ridge and the cheekbones.
Acupuncture is a very effective therapy for sinusitis and can be used alongside aromatherapy.
See also the entry for CATARRH.
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