Coping With Sinus Trouble

DO YOU have headaches on cloudy days? Do you have trouble with nasal catarrh or a “runny nose”? Are you likely to blame these conditions on your sinuses? If so, you may be right, but, then again, you may be mistaken.

In fact, Dr. A. P. Seltzer, an authority on sinus conditions, found that, of a thousand persons who felt they had trouble with their sinuses, only 12 percent actually did. But whether you have trouble with your sinuses or not, information about them should prove of interest and may even be of help to you.

Just what are the sinuses? A sinus is simply “a recess, cavity or hollow space.” There are many sinuses in our bodies, but the most notable of these are the four pairs of sinuses situated close to or connected with the nasal cavity. These are known as the “paranasal” sinuses, and it is only these that are being considered here.

Their Location

The largest of these sinuses are two pyramid-shaped ones, located on each side of the nose, in the upper jawbone. These sinuses reach from just above the roots of the upper teeth to the eye sockets. In the average adult they involve a little more than a cubic inch of space.

Smaller in size are the frontal sinuses, which are located in the forehead above the eyes. Behind these frontal sinuses, but on a lower level, are a pair of sinuses situated in the ethmoid or ‘sievelike’ bone. Each of these sinuses actually consists of a labyrinth of cells, from as few as three to as many as eighteen. Another pair of sinuses are located behind the ethmoid sinuses and on a still lower level, in fact, near the base of the skull.

Regarding these sinuses we are told that there is no such thing as uniformity in their size, shape and number. Except, perhaps, that usually they occupy the same amount of space whether they consist of many cells or compartments or only a few.

Purpose Served

What is the purpose served by all these hollows, cavities, recesses or sinuses? While there are some who doubt that they serve any purpose, even as many long held that the thymus gland served no purpose, it does seem reasonable to those who believe in a Creator that they have a reason for existence as does every other part of the human body.

For one thing, they lighten the weight of our skulls. Further, our sinuses without a doubt improve the resonance of our voices, as they allow the bones of the skull to vibrate more readily. Our sinuses most likely help to moisten the air we breathe as well as to warm it, for good ventilation is needed in our sinuses if we would enjoy good health. And not a few hold that our sinuses help the body to get rid of waste matter, such as phlegm or mucus.

Why Sinus Trouble?

Sinusitis has no typical symptoms peculiar to it, so it is not always easy to tell whether one has sinusitis or not. Why this is so is clear when we note that generally sinusitis is secondary to some other condition, most usually the common cold or infection of the upper nasal passages. Thus headaches, fever, dizziness, loss of appetite or one’s sense of smell, and so forth, may or may not indicate sinusitis.

Why do our sinuses, or more strictly speaking, the membranes of our sinuses, give us trouble at times? Because of excessive discharges from them or because of the closing of their ducts leading to the nose or throat due to their being inflamed. Among the more immediate causes are growths or polyps that close the ducts leading from the sinuses or, more often, inflammation of the nose, which may spread to the mucous membranes of the sinuses.

A tendency to inflammation of the membranes may be inherited. Then again, unfavorable prenatal conditions may have given us a bad start, as may lack of proper food or lack of loving parental care in early childhood. Lack of control of the emotions may be an inducing cause, even as excessive worrying, tensions and frictions with those with whom we live or work can be. Sinusitis may also be triggered by extremes of humidity or temperature to which one is not accustomed.

One’s sinus trouble may be due to a generally debilitated condition caused by a serious illness or due to overindulgence in enervating pleasures. It may be caused by allergies, infections and improper eating habits, lack of exercise and not getting enough rest and sleep. All such things can cause acute sinusitis, which, if unchecked or not cured, can result in the more stubborn but less pronounced chronic sinusitis.

What Can Be Done About It?

As with other health problems, prevention comes first. Well has it been observed, “It is the ounce of prevention that is the most significant factor in health.”

Get sufficient rest and sleep as well as plenty of fresh air. Eat wholesome food, and do not overload your system. It is well to adopt some regimen of exercise, especially if yours is a sedentary occupation, so that you can enjoy a feeling of well-being. Sinus sufferers often are very suggestible, so they may need to put forth a special effort to develop wholesome mental and emotional habits.

Guard against having rooms too warm and dry—better comfortably cool than luxuriously warm. Eliminate tobacco if you are a smoker and cut down on alcoholic beverages if you are very fond of them.

Among remedies recommended are taking in sufficient liquids such as water or fruit juices—not beer and coffee! Hot compresses, hot steam or sauna baths and the use of the enema to help the body clean out waste matter are recommended by some authorities. Especially is cutting down on rich and highly refined foods urged by those who view sinus trouble as an effort on the part of the body to throw off waste matter.

One nature doctor recommends the onion poultice. (Chop onions fine, place between two pieces of gauze and bind around the neck when going to bed.) Others advocate inhaling hot water vapor.

The medical practitioner may well recommend some of the foregoing as well as prescribe decongestants and antihistamines. Decongestants reduce the swelling of the membranes, but if given as drops or sprays, they should not be administered more than ten days in a row. Especially is caution indicated in their use in patients with high blood pressure. In more severe cases a doctor may prescribe antibiotics and aspirin or something stronger to relieve the pain. In chronic cases some may advise an operation, but more so in times past than now.

The chiropractor, on the other hand, proceeds on the premise that sinusitis is a case of hypersensitivity, especially involving the sympathetic nervous system. He treats sinusitis both locally, by manipulating the vertebrae, where lie the nerves leading to the head, and systemically, by seeking to improve the general health of the patient as a whole. More and more chiropractors apply pressure to the sinuses and concern themselves with nutrition when treating sinusitis.

There are other approaches too. But after all is said and done it cannot be stressed too strongly that moderation and self-control are basic. He who gives thought to sound nutrition, adequate exercise, sufficient rest and sleep and proper mental and emotional habits is practicing preventive medicine as regards his sinuses.

Most persons appear to be more neglectful of their bodies than they are of their automobiles. Yet the laws of cause and effect work as inexorably in the case of one as in the case of the other, and of how infinitely much more value are their bodies than their autos! This principle applies not only to sinusitis but to every other ill that afflicts the human race. Not without good reason has an authority on sinusitis noted: “First in importance here as elsewhere is the general health of the person, since the normal activity of all mucous tissues depends largely upon the well-being of the body as a whole.”