Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. Normally, sinuses are filled with air, but when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) can grow and cause an infection. A sinus infection can cause a headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, cheek area, or on one side of the head. A person with a sinus infection may also have a cough, a fever, bad breath, and nasal congestion with thick nasal secretions.
Causes of Sinusitis
Increased intake of dry, oily, spicy, or too hot or too cold foods, and foods that are heavy, indigestible and incompatible foods cause impairment of all three doshas. Impaired Kapha (Water) accumulates in the sinuses, thus blocking the flow of Vata (Air). Impaired Pitta (Fire) causes swelling and irritation of the tissues of the sinuses. Other factors responsible for this condition are suppressing natural urges of tears and vomiting, exposure to cold or dusty and dry weather, staying awake till late in the night, and sleeping in the daytime.
There are different types of sinusitis, including:
Acute sinusitis: A sudden onset of cold-like symptoms such as runny, stuffy nose and facial pain that does not go away after 10 to 14 days. Acute sinusitis typically lasts 4 weeks or less.
Sub acute sinusitis: An inflammation lasting 4 to 8 weeks.
Chronic sinusitis: A condition characterized by sinus inflammation symptoms lasting 8 weeks or longer.
Recurrent sinusitis: Several attacks within a year.
Sinusitis can be classified by the sinus cavity which it
Maxillary – can cause pain or pressure in the maxillary (cheek) area (e.g., toothache or headache)
Frontal – can cause pain or pressure in the frontal sinus cavity (located above eyes), headache, particularly in the forehead
Ethmoidal – can cause pain or pressure pain between/behind the eyes, the sides of the upper part of the nose (the medial canthi), and headaches
Sphenoidal – can cause pain or pressure behind the eyes, but often refers to the skull vertex (top of the head), over the mastoid processes, or the occiput (back of the head)
In Ayurveda, this condition can be correlated to Dushta Pratishyaya, where the main dosha affected is Kapha. It get aggravated and vitiates the Prana Vata (a sub type of Vata), which is mainly present in the respiratory tract.
The Ayurvedic approach to sinusitis treatment is multifaceted and can involve a combination detoxification processes through Panchakarma, oral medicines, dietary and life style modifications.
Therapies like Nasyam, Lepanam, Thalam, Vamanam, Shirodhara are commonly practiced depending on the dosha predominance and severity.
Nasya Karma or Nasyam is a unique and one of the five detoxification therapies mentioned in Ayurveda, highly successful in treating Sinusitis. It is a process in which medicated oil or powder or fresh juice is administered through the nostrils to clear the Kapha accumulated. Recurrence can also be prevented.
Average duration of therapy is around 1 – 3 weeks.
External / local remedies for sinusitis
Tulsi steam – Steam inhalation with decoction of holy basil (Tulsi) or water boiled with it. Doing it for many days will help in acute sinusitis. It might not help you very much in chronic forms of the disease.
Hot water steaming / vapours – Add mint / eucalyptus oil / clove oil to the hot water and take vapours twice daily. Spit out the secretions coming to your mouth. Have a salt water gargle after that to clear your throat. You can use electrical sauna also to take vapours. Application of oil like Ksheerabala taila or sesame oil over your face before taking vapours will add to the relief.
Chop some onions and boil it with water, take its steam / vapour
Nasal wash with lotion prepared from fried Tankana Bhasma (borax) is also effective
Mustard drops – Boil 1 tsp of mustard in 1 glass of water and reduce the quantity to half. When it is lukewarm take 3-4 drops in a sterile dropper. Pour them gently into the nostrils. 1-2 drops of warm mustard oil can be used instead.
Shadbindu taila or Anu taila can be used as nasal drops (take doctor’s advice)
Garlic snuff – Peel 5-6 garlic buds, crush them and sniff them (inhale) or tie the crushed garlic in a sterile cloth so as to form a bolus, inhale the bolus by keeping it close to your nose
Turmeric fumes – A small quantity of turmeric powder (more than couple of pinches or ¼ tsp is put on burning charcoal and its fumes / smoke is inhaled. Alternatively, turmeric powder is put on a piece of sterile cotton piece, the cotton piece is burnt and the fumes inhaled
Inhale cumin seed powder – Take 1 spoon of cumin seed powder (black variety preferably) and tie it in a sterile cloth so as to form a bolus. Keep placing the bolus near your nose and inhale many times in a day.
Cinnamon paste for application – Mix 1-2 spoons of cinnamon powder in warm water. Apply the paste over your forehead and nose to remove congestion
Damp cloth dipped in boiled water or water boiled with mint or made warm in microwave is kept over the face (care should be taken not to cause burns)
Saline rinse – ¼ tsp table salt is mixed in 200ml of warm water is used for rinsing. This moistens dry nasal membranes, helps to make the mucus wet and eases its removal.