Sinusitis – An Ayurvedic Perspective

Ayurvedic Treatment for Sinusitis

Do you frequently fall sick of cold and cough. If yes then it is possible that you too may be suffering from chronic sinusitis. And if you are a victim of chronic sinusitis then today you shall definitely get a solution of your problem. Today we will understand and discuss what ayurveda says about chronic sinusitis.

Sinus is air-filled cavity in the human body which has the responsibility of decreasing the relative weight of frontal skull and humidifying the air that we breath in. Whenever the sinus gets infected then it becomes a cause of headache. But that doesn’t mean that all headaches are due to sinus. Sometimes the patient may have headache due to stress or migraine instead of sinus. Due to headache of migraine the facials blood vessels which goes towards forehead, cheeks and jaws, get affected. This causes pain near the sinus. When there is infection of nose and sinus then the patient feels heaviness on eyes, in forehead and in cheeks. Sometimes, due to cold , stuffy nose and fatigue, the patient also gets fever , swelling on face and has some yellow fibrous nasal discharge. This is called as sinusitis.

To have a detailed discussion on sinusitis, like always we have with us our Ayurveda expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora. Welcome to the show doctor.

Q Today we are going to have a discussion on chronic sinusitis. First of all, please tell us about what is chronic sinusitis in terms of Ayurveda?

It’s not a matter of ayurveda or modern science. First of all, we need to understand what exactly sinus is, anatomically. See, In skull, in the area around our nose, which is known as paranasal area, there are air cavities which are termed as sinuses. These are maxillary sinus, frontal sinus, ethmoid sinus and sphenoid sinus. These sinuses have been named with respect to their location. In general, these sinuses are lined with mucus membrane and their cavity is filled with air. But sometimes due to our allergic nature, or some immune-compromised condition, or deviated nasal septum or due to condition of polyp and adrenoids, the mucus membrane starts secretion and these secretions instead of being thrown out start accumulating into the cavity. So this type of condition in which the internal layer of sinus gets swollen, is called sinusitis. In its acute condition, it is termed as acute sinusitis. When this condition continues over a long period of time, then it is termed as chronic sinusitis. So, basically inflammation of sinuses is sinusitis.

Q But how would a person know that he is suffering from sinusitis. Probably because of the kind of lifestyle that we have adopted today, or because we simultaneously consume cold and hot things…..there is always a tendency of getting cold and cough. Sir, please tell us how does sinusitis differ from normal cold and cough?

In case of sinus, we generally observe that after reaching an acute condition, they get settled (because of antibiotics taken by the patient or whatever). Rarely, one reaches a condition where he has to depend on bronchodilators as he would have developed difficulty in breathing. As we manage the acute condition with the help of antibiotics, we either get a good patch where we have to face no further problems or we get a persistent post nasal drip wherein we feel as if mucus is dripping from behind our nose into our throat. This is a symptom of chronic sinusitis. If we talk about differential diagnosis or which all diseases need to be differentiated from sinusitis then there is a condition of bronchial asthama. A patient of bronchial asthama would have coughing accompanied with difficulty in breathing and wheezing (some kind of whistling sounds are produced while breathing).. So, this is how a patient of bronchial asthama can be differentiated from that of sinusitis. Similarly, in case of allergic rhinitis, the patient has severely running nose , and sometimes there could be an associated fever and headache. Also, in this case you will observe a history like, yesterday night you had an exposure to cold when you were partying, or had consumed something very cold etc.. So this way you can differentiate a patient of allergic rhinitis from that of sinusitis. One more condition with similar symptoms is tonsillitis. In tonsillitis, there is an inflammation of tonsils( tonsils are present inside our throat). A patient of tonsillitis would have difficulty in swallowing. This condition is often seen in children where it can be accompanied with fever. So all these conditions can be distinguished from sinusitis in which there is lot of pain involved in acute condition. A patient of sinusitis has a feeling of stuffy nose and in chronic condition he has post nasal drip and heaviness of head. These are the symptoms which help us to identify sinusitis.

Q Can the condition of sinusitis develop at any age or is it present since childhood?

A very good question indeed! See if you look at bronchial asthama, then it starts by the age of 10 years. If we talk about tonsillitis, since a weak immunity system is a factor here, it is most common in children( as they have a weaker immunity). After that, if we talk about allergic rhinitis, it has no age factor. But if we talk about sinusitis, it generally develops in adolescent stage i.e. after about 18-20 years of age. So age is also one of the deciding factors in identification of the disease when we have to distinguish a patient of sinusitis from allergic rhinitis or bronchial asthama or tonsillitis.

Q So, as you said, the problem of sinusitis is generally found to occur after adolescent age. Why is it so and what kind of treatments are available for this in Ayurveda?

When we consider the development of sinuses, we generally believe that their complete development happens by the age of 13-15 years. And after that the condition of sinusitis arises because of inflammation of sinuses. I would like to tell you here that generally we observe three types of conditions: 1) the mucus membrane whether they are nasal mucus membrane or mucus membrane of sinuses, become hyper-responsive or hypersensitive against certain allergens like dust, smoke, pollens or cold breeze. Thus an allergic nature develops. Mucus membrane gives out certain secretions which we later on term as cough. Along with this, if our ciliary action( which is responsible for throwing out the secretions) is also affected then instead of being thrown out of the body they start getting deposited in the sinus cavity itself. 2) Immuno-compromised condition. In such a condition, we have a weak immunity because of which our body is not able to tolerate even small changes like walking out from air- conditioned atmosphere, or seasonal change like onset of winter or onset of summer or raining. This is because these things tend to obstruct our airways and thus cause difficulty in breathing. 3 ) presence of toxins. When certain things which are harmful for us are prevented from being excreted, then there always remains a possibility of it getting infected again and again. So till we clear the sinuses from deposited secretions or cough or till we remove the accumulated cough from sinus cavities, we will continue to remain prone to its recurrent infection. In this case, the deposited cough is called as toxins and their presence becomes a reason for recurrent attacks of sinusitis. So we use all these principles in treatment of sinusitis. We always work towards our aim to always keep the sinuses clean. When we take the anti cold remedies or anti-allergic medicines to control the condition, they actually suppress the secretions and provide us a momentary relief. But the cause of recurrent infection is still lying inside our body. So as soon as a favourable condition is created, or in other words, there is an exposure to cold, dust etc. , the deposited cough will again get infected, and you will have a attack once again.

That’s so true. Apart from this, if we talk about its treatment then like we always do, we divide the treatment into two parts. The first is preventive treatment, in which we focus on the precautions that one needs to take in order to stay away from the disease. The second is curative where we focus at treating the condition, e.g. if someone has chronic sinusitis, how can he come out of this problem?

That’s a right approach for treatment. We should always look at preventive as well as curative aspects. When we consider the preventive treatment, I can see the following reasons in case of sinusitis : 1) Probably our tracheobronchial tree and the nasal mucus membrane is hypersensitive and hyper-responsive for certain things. So you should protect yourself from cold, dust and pollen grains. It doesn’t mean that you will have to do this for life, its only till you strengthen your immunity and your problem of hypersensitivity is sorted out. Everything has a solution but till the problem gets solved, you should take precautions and avoid exposure to any such thing which can act as an allergen. 2) Probably you have a weak immunity. There are very simple remedies to increase immunity. I would like to tell you about a home remedy. Anybody who has a problem of sinusitis, bronchial asthama, tosilitis or allergic rhinitis, and he feels that his mucus membrane is of allergic nature or hypersensitive to certain allergens like cold or some food items then he should take 50 grams black pepper and 250 grams of white sugar drops(or batashe). Powder them together at home itself. Take ½ spoon of this powder with hot turmeric milk( milk boiled with turmeric powder), twice daily( morning and evening). By following this remedy regularly, as I have seen, there is very good improvement in immunity and hypersensitivity of mucus membrane is controlled to a great extent. It is a very simple remedy but trust me it is capable of considerably reducing your intake of antibiotics, intake of bronchodilators and medicines and even it is capable of providing a cure.