Sinus headaches make your whole face hurt, but a natural solution can fix that!
Sinus headaches are called secondary type headaches because they are caused by some other condition, usually sinus congestion or a sinus infection (sinusitis).
Your sinuses are located in your forehead, across your nose and in your face around the area of your cheeks. Sinuses are 8 air-filled passageways that drain mucous and circulate air throughout your nasal passages. But when they get blocked, mucous is trapped and it becomes a breeding ground for all types of bacteria, viruses and fungi that can cause infection. And it's this infection that causes sinusitis - inflammation and congestion in your sinuses.
Mucus is a sticky, elastic, unappealing gel that is nothing less than one of the greatest protections that we have against infection and poisoning. Your nose, throat and sinuses are lined with mucus to help ensure that your air is moist, warm and free from dust, dirt and pollutants; without this filtering gel, your lungs and kidneys, and even your blood, could fill with toxins.
And what does sinusitis cause… sinus headaches!
Sinus headache symptoms may include or be accompanied by any of the following:
- Throbbing pain and pressure in your forehead, the area around your eyes, nose and cheeks
- Pressure that feels worse when you bend forward
- Yellow-green nasal discharge
- Cold symptoms, "stuffy" nose, fever, sore throat or cough
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Feelings of fullness and pain in the ears
- Loss of smell
- Occasional high fever
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty breathing
If drainage is clear, you probably don't have an infection, but if discharge is green or yellowish then antibiotics are in order. Though very common, sinus infections can be serious especially if you consider how close the sinuses are to the brain. If left untreated, sinusitis can lead to asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia or other respiratory disorders.
Sinus headaches are usually worse upon waking up in the morning because mucous has been collecting and draining while you were lying down. They tend to get better as the day wears on because of gravity while you're standing or sitting. They also may worsen when you go from a warm house out into the cold (temperature change) or when you bend over or lie down.
Sometimes the symptoms of sinus headaches are confused with the symptoms of migraines. Migraine symptoms, however, also include nausea, vomiting and sound/light sensitivity - symptoms that are not present in sinus headaches.
Some causes of sinus problems
Sinus problems have many causes and while Chiropractic can help a lot of the causes, a team approach is important. Narrow or thin nasal passages and sinus cavities, and, deviation of the nasal septum can be causative.
Most often allergies are the culprit, so keeping them under control is important. Anything that irritates the sensitive mucous membranes can be a contributing factor to sinusitis (or rhinitis): dust, mold or pollen; fumes; virus' or bacteria; and hot or dry air in buildings. If environmental allergens are affecting you, avoidance is important. Allergies to mold are very common, so keeping a dehumidifier in the basement is helpful as is wearing a mask when mowing the lawn.
Allergy sufferers often have sinus symptoms because many allergens first irritate the nasal passages. Less common causes of sinusitis are bony growths, nasal polyps, deviated septum, facial injuries, tumors or diseases of the upper teeth.
Another very common cause of sinus problems that I see in my chiropractic office are food allergies. It is difficult to determine whether you have a food allergy because the body's response to the wrong food is slow. This is different than acute responses to a severe allergen like nuts. Many people have a slow allergic response that takes about three days to show up. In other words, you eat something you are "allergic" to and you get a "reaction" three days later. Common foods that many people are "sensitive" to are milk, eggs, wheat, and yeast. This is unfortunate because these are common foods in the North American diet.
An easy way to determine the presence of food allergies is to eliminate most common food allergens from your diet for two weeks. See how you feel and then add the food back into your diet and again see how you feel. Frequently, foods a person craves or has daily are allergic for them.
Sinus Headache Treatment
With sinus headaches, the pain and pressure you feel is not the primary problem. The primary problem is the infection that is causing the sinusitis that, in turn, is causing your sinus headache pain!
So… in order to get headache relief, you have to treat the underlying infection. Doctors generally prescribe antibiotics and/or nasal sprays to reduce inflammation. They may also suggest that you use decongestants, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and saline nasal rinses (Neti Pot) to provide sinus headache pain relief. The thought is this - get rid of the infection and the headache will go away. However, for many, sinusitis is a chronic condition.
However, recent studies suggest that antibiotics may be less effective in treating sinus infections than doctors originally thought. Physicians are turning to other methods, and prescribing pharmaceuticals less often. If you find that your sinus infection is not resolving itself, your chiropractor may be able to recommend natural supplements or over the counter drugs that will ease your symptoms.
If your sinuses are clogged because of a structural defect or polyps (small growths that can block airways), surgery may be recommended.
A Stronger Immune System
Chiropractors and osteopaths have, for many decades, observed the beneficial effects of spinal care on the nervous, immune and respiratory systems.
Children may especially benefit from chiropractic care. One case history as an example is that of a 4-year-old boy with headaches, vomiting, nasal drip and decreased appetite who was being treated with large doses of antibiotics. He had a fall on his head at age two from a height of four feet. He was seen by his chiropractor two times per week for six months. His headaches, vomiting and nasal drip resolved completely. His parents also reported that his attitude and appetite "dramatically improved."
Sinuses clean the air you breathe and add resonance to your voice. The relationship between the nervous system and the immune system appears to be more extensive than ever realized. Recent research has shown that white blood cells may be "tipped off" about 'foreign invaders' by the nervous system.
You can also take some measures to reduce your chance of developing chronic sinusitis. which can lead to sinus headaches. Prevention of sinus infection is much less painful and debilitating then treatment!
Wash your hands to avoid contracting and spreading colds, maintain a balanced diet to ward off infection, avoid alcohol and cigarettes which stimulates sinus inflammation.
Some other ideas to help sinus problems are to maintain a diet of 75% raw foods. Reduce salt intake and drink plenty of water (distilled preferably) and juices. Drink hot liquids as they help the mucus to flow which may help to relieve congestion and sinus pressure. Steam some diluted white vinegar and breathe the fumes. It acts as an irritant and increases sinus drainage. Use a Neti Pot to cleanse the sinuses. It is also critically important to keep your immune system working properly: Vitamins C with bioflavonoid, B complex, Vitamin A, E and Zinc are also important. Avoid the use of decongestants for long periods and not at all if you have high blood pressure.
As painful as sinus problems are, they can be controlled naturally!
Sinus Headaches: An Alternative Approach
In terms of sinus headaches, doctors agree that the cause is sinusitis or a sinus infection. No sinus infection, no sinus headache, right?
What if you could get to the cause of the sinus infection? Then what? What if we told you that chiropractic care has shown positive results in reducing sinus inflammation and infection?
Surprised? Here's why…
The nerves that exit the upper spine also go to the face and sinuses. If those nerves are pinched or irritated, then the sinuses won't function right and could clog up. If they don't drain, bacteria will breed and you know the rest.
Chiropractors help to relieve interference caused by pinched, irritated nerves in the central nervous system with an adjustment. As previously stated, when interference is present, your body cannot function efficiently. When the interference is removed, your body works properly, your sinuses drain effectively and there's no buildup of mucous to cause a blockage in the first place!
And… modern chiropractic is safe and all-natural. Chiropractors don't prescribe drugs and they don't perform surgery.
Instead, chiropractors are trained to locate where a spinal vertebrae (bone) is out of place (spinal misalignment), causing it to pinch or press on a nerve, which causes nerve interference. The chiropractic adjustment normalizes the nerve interference that may prohibit your body from working correctly. Without chiropractic spinal correction, you are more susceptible to all types of health-related conditions, such as sinusitis.
Spinal misalignments can occur due to falls, accidents and injuries that may have recently happened, occurred several years ago or even when you were a child. You may not be aware that a spinal vertebra is out of place, or even remember when it might have happened, but the result is there - compromised immune system function that takes a real toll on your health! And… health-related conditions and the general state of your health may continue to decline until the spinal misalignment is corrected.
Chiropractors know how to locate and correct spinal misalignments that may be causing you to get sick in the first place. They help you take a detailed look at your health history to help you remember when you first started having sinus difficulties or other health challenges. They will also examine you thoroughly to determine whether you are a good candidate for chiropractic care - care that can put you on the road to health and relieve the cause of your sinus headaches.
Your chiropractor may be trained in specific sinus techniques such as sinus draining, endonasal technique or nasal specific. The aforementioned techniques can help relieve pressure by increasing sinus drainage. Your chiropractor is also able to treat muscular or spinal issues that could be related to your symptoms. Before turning to medication, consider asking your chiropractor how they can help relieve your symptoms.
Does Chiropractic Work?
Headaches are one of the top reasons why patients first seek the help of a chiropractor. Why? Because chiropractic care is an effective natural and generally painless means to identify the real cause of headaches and it provides a proven method to relieve headache pain.
Chiropractors are aware that not every patient benefits from the same type of care. But, how would chiropractic be the most widely used alternative health care approach, for all types of headaches and many other diseases, if it wasn't effective?
Anyone suffering from sinusitis, rhinitis or other respiratory problems should see a chiropractor for a spinal checkup. Spinal care can help your body function better, improve your resistance to disease and enhance your well-being.
Find out if we can help you by calling Dr. Pisarek today
at (416) 633-3000 for your appointment!