Managing Sinusitis With Chinese Medicine

Managing Sinusitis With Chinese Medicine

Most people describe blocked and painful sinuses as a blocked nose. While doctors call it acute or chronic sinusitis.

What are Para-Nasal Sinuses? 

The para-nasal sinuses are air filled spaces inside the skull that are lined with moist tissue. There’s four pairs:

  1. Frontal Sinus
  2. Maxillary Sinus
  3. Ethmoidal Sinus
  4. Sphenoidal Sinus

What is Sinusitis?

When there’s inflammation of the sinuses, this is called sinusitis. (-itis) meaning inflammation.

This is usually due to viral, bacterial, fungal infection or allergic reactions.

There are 4 types:

  • Acute (resolves in 30 days)
  • Sub-acute (30-90 days)
  • Re-current (10 days between end and start of new episode)
  • Chronic (90 days or more)

Firstly, a blocked or runny nose and poor smell develops. This is sometimes followed by cough, pain and fever.

Western Medical View

Acute episodes are due to viral infections. Secondly, bacterial infections sometimes follow, making symptoms worse.

Diagnosis is made in the clinic and CT scans can view inflammation and confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment focuses on drainage and controlling infections using a wet, hot towels or hot beverages.

There are no treatments for viruses, however antibiotics can benefit bacterial infections but may come with side effects such as:

  • Upset stomach, cramps and bloating
  • Skin reactions and peeling
  • Weight gain
  • Hearing problems
  • Liver problems

Nasal decongestants can be used but long term use cause re-bound congestion, making symptoms worse.

Chinese Medical View 

In Chinese medicine, sinusitis fits into the category of Bi Yuan (translated as “nose pool”).

There are two types:

  1. Acute sinusitis is caused by pathogens that impair the diffusing and descending function of the Lung. This leads to a build up of fluid in the sinuses.
  2. Chronic sinusitis is due to pathogens and deficiencies that predispose a person to sinus problems.

How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

After diagnosis, treatment may include acupuncture or  plant based Chinese herbal medicine. In acute episode, the aim is to clear ‘pathogens’ from the nose and Lung and restore natural function.

For chronic sinusitis, pathogens need to be cleared first to restore normal function. Secondly, underlying problems are resolved to prevent recurrent episodes in the near future.

5 Lifestyle Steps

  1. Firstly, reduce dairy milk and cheese
  2. Secondly, rest during an acute infection to avoid chronic sinusitis.
  3. Thirdly avoid greasy/fried foods
  4. Forth, use self massage & a warm pack on the back of the neck to promote drainage.
  5. Finally, apply for an assessment here

David L. Edwards is an author, herbalist and acupuncturist. He is the author of The Body Fat Formula and The Pocketbook guide to Chinese medicine and painless cures. David is the creator of Barefoot Health and Wellness programs.

Apply for an Assessment here

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  • Porter, Kaplan (editors). The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 19th ed. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, N.J. pg. 479-481
  • The Practice of Chinese medicine, second edition. Giovanni Maciocia. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. Pg. 202- 210
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