Sinus Infection Symptoms, Antibiotics, and Alternative Medicine

Modern Living, Complex Health Problems

In our post-modern industrial polluted stress-filled bad-diet culture, no one's health is simple. We are plagued by complex long-term illnesses like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, AIDS, even sinus problems... it may seem weird to you that I include sinus infections, but the root causes of sinus trouble can be quite complicated... Especially if they are long-term.

Antibiotic Overuse Problems

I hate to say it (because antibiotics are so great in some situations, and so popular overall), but antibiotics can complicate things even further - there are conditions that do not respond to them... and there are many situations in which they are not even indicated.

Physicians have over-prescribed antibiotics for years... they know it, there have been studies that show it, and as a profession they've moved away from that. But people still want to leave the doctor's office with a prescription, a magic-bullet. Of course, sometimes the issue is which antibiotic is the most appropriate one. They don't all work for everything.

Antibiotic Side Effects - When They're Wrong

If the sinusitis hasn't responded to antibiotics, then either the wrong ones were prescribed, or you need to try another kind of treatment. Chinese Herbal Medicine can address the full spectrum of complaints and causes; we often treat the conditions which are not responding to conventional treatments like antibiotics. A woman wrote me about how antibiotics weren't solving her diarrhea problem- this can happen when the disease is cold in nature. Antibiotics are cold and bitter; these qualities help it fight the dampness and heat of bacterial infections. But they are more of the same damage when the disease is cold or deficient in nature. Acupuncture and moxibustion (the warming of acupuncture points) can also be effective; some people respond very quickly... results vary depending upon a number of factors (the acupuncturist's education, accuracy of diagnosis, frequency of treatment, and patient compliance with diet and lifestyle suggestions).

Cold and Deficient

If the mucus is clear or white, then it is more likely cold in nature. That fits with a Spleen-system deficiency and dampness. That would fit with the pulse she felt. You would have lowered appetite, feel fatigued, have loose stool, and possibly feel cold easily. Antibiotics wouldn't help here, and could even make things worse.

Sinus Infection Symptoms

The classic acute sinusitis symptoms are nasal congestion, green nasal phlegm, facial/dental pain, eye pain, headache, and a cough at night. Some patients also complain of fever, feeling ill, bad breath and a sore throat. Chronic sinusitis is more difficult to diagnose. You can have the same symptoms above in a milder form. Chronic means long-term; it's not usually thought of as chronic unless it's been going on for 2 months or more.

Sinus Infection Causes

Sinus problems can be caused by many things- you have to think about environmental and food allergies (allergic sinusitis), chronic sinus infection, and chronic colds. Without more information, it's hard to be specific. Sinusitis often develops after colds, and can become a chronic problem. The sinuses are very small... one of our weak points, especially for people with weakened immune systems or in the presence of irritants (once again, pollution, allergens, etc.)... she probably asked about the farms and pesticides while she was thinking about the cause of your chronic sinusitis.

Mold, Fungus, and Sick Buildings

And we can't forget about mold! While some people appear to be more sensitive than others, fungus can cause fungal sinusitis. This gets into the whole 'sick-building' topic... Mold can grow in the walls of houses and offices, and is not always easy to detect.

Decongestant Side Effects

Decongestants are often prescribed. They work by drying you out. Unfortunately, they don't just dry the mucus. Long-term use of decongestants can lead to other problems, like the dry or heat types of sinus inflammation.

This is why, in Chinese Medicine, we always balance an herb with other herbs- if we are drying the phlegm, we also moisten at the same time. Moisture helps the sinuses drain- you remember that Crocodile-Dundee-put-your-head-under-the-steaming-pot-thing? Likewise, there are chinese herbs whose function it is to moisten and transform phlegm.

Serious Causes of Sinusitis, and Serious Solutions

For those with chronic sinusitis, tests need to be done to rule out the serious things. Sinusitis can be just a simple end-of-your-cold complication, but it can also show up as part of: nasal tumors, fungal infections, and HIV or other immunodeficiency. What about the sinusitis surgery? It works from 50-93% of the time... so it can be a great help if you're sick and tired of it, and nothing else has worked. but it's also a super-painful process! I would see an herbalist first.

Brian Carter has been making herbs and acupuncture fun and easy to understand since 1999 when he founded the Pulse of Oriental Medicine (http://www.pulsemed.org/), now a megasite that receives 15,000 pageviews per day.

Brian is the author of "Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind:How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure." (http://www.pulsemed.org/bookpreview.htm)

Br ian is a medical professor and public speaker. He writes articles, blogs (http://americas-acupuncturist.blogspot.com/), and speaks on radio across the country, and has been quoted and interviewed by publications like Real Simple, Glamour, and ESPN magazines.

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