It's snowing hard again, and we're growing weary of the looooong winter. I'm reminding myself of all I have to be thankful for and putting on cheery music to keep our spirits up.
Matt has a bad sinus infection that set in over the last two days. Because our family is prone to upper respiratory problems, I wanted to make sure you have the steps I use to give relief. These are not a "cure", they simply relieve much of the pain and discomfort. For you children, I call your pediatrician at the onset, and she usually wants to see you in 72 hours if the infection hasn't cleared on it's own. My RNP encourages me to use natural/herbal relief for several weeks before starting antibiotics. My body has been able to fight most sinus (and uti) infections on its own for years.
1. Prevention: Begin at onset of cold/allergies
- Nasal Decongestant. Continue to take minimum dose on a regular schedule until cold or allergies have completely cleared up. Pseudoephedrine works best, but is not appropriate for children and may not still be available by the time you're an adult.
- Saline rinse 2-3 times per day. Drops or spray for children, neti pot for an adult. 2-3 drops of grapefruit seed oil can be added to a neti pot to give additional anti-bacterial, anti-viral support.
2. Treatment options
- Nasal Decongestant: Continue to take minimum dose. Be sure to read packaging as most decongestants cannot be taken long term without the body becoming dependent.
- Ibuprofen: Minimum dose. Ibuprofen can be taken around the clock to relieve pain and swelling for up to 10 days if you don't have other health contraindications. Past 10 days, consult a doctor. Tylenol can also be used sparingly along with the ibuprofen to help alleviate pain. Dose the acetaminophen on an opposite schedule so the pain killing effects peak as the ibuprofen is wearing off.
- Saline rinse 2-3 times per day. Drops or spray for children. For adults, add a couple of drops of grapefruit SEED oil to the pot. Grapefruit seed oil has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties that are stronger than Rx antibiotics.
- Smear a thin coat of Vicks Vaporub on mustache area and chest.
- Steam Tent. Cuddle your infant or small child in the bathroom while running a very hot shower to steam up the room. An older child or adult can place their head over a boiling quart of water to which 12 cloves of minced garlic, 10 clove buds, 1 Tbsp of ginger, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and a tsp. of Vicks Vaporub have been added. Tent with a towel. Breathe steam for 20-30 minutes 3-5 times a day. Keep your eyes closed.
- Drink Jasmine green tea with 5 drops of grapefruit seed oil. Only sweeten with honey.
- Feed patient nourishing soups. Egg drop soup is a powerhouse when you're fighting infection.
- Use a vitamin C supplement appropriate to the person's age and weight.
- Remove all sugar from the diet. Sugar is inflammatory and increases pain considerably. If sweetener is absolutely necessary, use honey sparingly. Additional relief can usually be given by removing any white flour (including pastas and breads) from the diet.
- Be sure patient is consuming at least 1 oz of water or herbal tea for every 2 lbs of body weight in a 24 hour period, and that they are getting adequate sleep. Often a straw will make water more palatable when sinuses are packed full.
- Heated gel mask. Heat a gel mask until very warm to the touch and place it on the patient's forehead/eye area. Be very careful not to overheat and burn the patient. Alternatively, fill a sock with about 1 cup rice and a TBSP of flax seed, close with a rubber band, and microwave for 30 second intervals until rice is quite warm. If you know that you will be treating sinus congestion regularly, you can easily sew a mask-shaped rice pack that will be more comfortable. An elastic band that fits around the back of the head will keep it from shifting.
- Time. It takes 2 - 6 weeks for an infection to completely clear even if the patient is on antibiotics. Fatigue may persist after the pain has passed.
- Caution: If patient is running a fever, see a doctor.
- Chronic rhinitis/sinusitis is usually caused by a yeast infection. If this isn't cleared up first, the acute bacterial infection will persist.
There are herbal and over-the-counter relief formulas for all of the normal aches and pains of life. If you learn to patiently treat your everyday problems with these, antibiotics will be much more effective when they're truly needed. I am fortunate to have a pediatrician that prefers for me to use herbal and natural remedies for you children before hitting the problem with prescription drugs. My own RNP was the one who encouraged me to get off antibiotics for my semi-annual sinus and UTI infections, and I haven't had problems with either since.
Obviously if there are pre-existing conditions that cause routine sickness to degenerate quickly into life-threatening illness, you need to see a doctor right away. Also, if you're on a prescription drug, make very sure that none of your herbal or OTC treatments will interfere with the efficacy of that medication. Love, gentleness, and longsuffering are the most valuable tools you possess as a wife/mom/nurse. It is tiresome to serve a whiny, cranky family member for days or even weeks, but God can and will do mighty things in and through your own heart and life during this time, too.
May your health and soul both prosper,