This year I’ve already fallen prey to two sinus infections. It’s the sickest I’ve been in years. I’m starting to wonder if I have a compromised immune system, but that could be my hypochondria talking. Needless to say, the misery needed to understood. So, I spoke to a nurse and I spoke to a doctor, and I did some more research on sinus infections, and I came up with these five steps for treating a sinus infection. They’ve worked pretty well for my now clear nose.
Symptoms of a Sinus Infection
- yellow, green, or dark phlegm.
- swelling and pain in the eyes, nose, or throat.
- coughing, sneezing, and sinus drainage.
- headaches and the occasional fever
Causes of Sinus Infections
A sinus infection is typically a secondary bacterial infection which arises when a cold or the flu compromises the immune system. Other problems like excessive irritation of the sinuses from smoking or extremely dry air, allergic reactions, and even fungal infections may lead to an infection of the sinuses as well.
Best Ways of Treating a Sinus Infection
The first step toward getting rid of a sinus infection is to start Zinc treatment right away. I know some of you are saying, “But, Zinc is an antiviral treatment strategy.” Well, as it turns out many sinus infections are sparked by a viral infection. It’s called a secondary infection, and if you want to reduce your symptoms and the severity of your cold and any sinus infection, you should look into Zicam Gel Swabs for your nose or Zinc tablets you put under your tongue. Zicam Gel Swabs have been getting a lot of attention from the press lately, and they seem to work. You can get Zicam Nasal Swabs at Amazon.
The second step to get rid of a sinus infection is to drink warm fluids that are high in protein, sugars, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. Your body needs proteins to build cellular defenses and sugars to fuel the immune systems that generate white blood cells and antibodies (immunoglobin). The electrolytes, vitamins and minerals comprise a number of organic compounds that are needed to sustain hydration in your body as well as to build fatty acids and amino acids which are necessary for the immune system to function.
The third step in your battle against a sinus infection is to begin steam treatment to help your body get rid of phlegm, called sputum. Sputum is mucus filled (usually) with immunoglobins, lipids, and glycoproteins: those things, noted above, that your body produces to fight infections. A good regiment for steam treatment of a sinus infection would be as follows: 1 hot shower every morning after you wake up and three 10-minute sessions over a pot of boiling water (or a warm mist humidifier) with a towel over your head. Complete this regiment until your phlegm becomes clear or white (healthy) again.
The fourth step is to take expectorants, decongestants, and anti-inflammatory pain medication. Expectorants (guaifenesin) and decongestants (pseudoepherdine) help to thin the phlegm (sputum) in your lungs and nasal cavities, allowing your body to more readily expel them. Anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen will help reduce the swelling, pain, and pressure in your sinuses as well as the pain caused by excessive coughing or sneezing. Remember only to take these medications as needed, and whenever possible, you should attempt to substitute pharmaceutical remedies for natural remedies (teas, herbs, supplements, etc.)
The fifth step is to monitor the color of your phlegm and the duration of your infection. Yellow phlegm means your immune system is at the beginning or the end of fighting a sinus infection. Green phlegm indicates that the infection is in full swing. Brown or orange phlegm could be a sign of a greater infection in your lungs, like pneumonia. Generally speaking, a cold or sinus infection should end anywhere between 9-15 days. If your symptoms persist longer than two weeks, you should seek a physician—stronger (antibiotic) treatments may be necessary, or you may be suffering from chronic sinus infections (sinusitis).
Best Natural Sinus Infection Remedies
Zinc is a perfectly natural remedy for a sinus infection, but it is generally taken when the symptoms of a cold first begin, as a preventative solution. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Zinc treatments especially with regard to the delivery of the Zinc, the type of Zinc compounds used to deliver Zinc to the immune system, and dosage sizes. However, evidence is mounting that Zinc does indeed have an effect on the range and intensity of the common cold. You can find zinc lozenges at Amazon or you can try the zinc in supplement form.
Saline nasal irrigation is a great way to reduce pain and congestion in the nasal passages. Saline irrigation has seen wide and popular usage in western medicine as a way to treat chronic sinusitis, and it is particularly useful for treating children who are sensitive to decongestants and other pharmaceuticals.
Elevating of your head is something you might want to try to relieve the pressure of a sinus infection without the use of medicine. Sleeping with your head slightly elevated above the rest of your body (approx. 6 inches) allows your sinuses to drain more readily than they would if you were sleeping on your stomach. I find propping myself up on a couch with a couple seasons of my favorite British comedies works wonders when I’m suffering from a sinus infection.
Eucalyptus oil in your 10-minute steam treatments will help act as a natural expectorant and decongestant. Just a few drops added to a pot of boiling water should do the trick. If you’re using a humidifier, consult the manual to find out whether or not you should be adding oils to the water directly or if there’s a medicine cup where oil/herbs should be added.
Medical Treatment of Sinus Infections
In almost every case where a sinus infection becomes something more or is deemed a chronic condition, antibiotics are employed as the primary treatment. Most medical professionals will tell you that antibiotics should only be used when the symptoms of a cold or a sinus infection become too great for the body to handle—this is common in young children and elderly adults—or when the infection lasts for more than 14 days. There can be a number of causes for a chronic sinus infection or an infection of the lungs and airways, which is why a physician should be consulted if you don’t think your body is handling the sinus infection properly.
If you are experiencing more sinus infections than normal, schedule a checkup with your physician or ask to be referred to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist. When all else fails, the professionals probably won’t.