( By Dr. H.K.Bakhru )
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Sinusitis refers to an inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the paranasal sinuses. It often follows the common cold, influenza and other general infections. Germs which are usually eliminated from the body sometimes find their way into these sinuses or chambers on either side of the nasal passage, leading to sinus trouble.
The sinuses consist of cavities or chambers contained in the bones situated in the head and face region. The frontal, maxillary, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses are the paranasal sinuses which communicate with the nose. The frontal sinuses lie on the frontal bone directly above the eyes. The maxillary sinuses are located one on each side of the nose under the cheekbone. The ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses are situated behind the nose or either side of it. These air sinuses lighten the weight of the skull and give reasonance to the voice.
The symptoms of sinusitis are excessive or constant sneezing, a running nose , blockage of one or both nostrils, headaches and pressure around the head, eyes and face. Sinus headaches are usually felt in the forehead and in the face just below the eyes. The patient may suffer from a low grade fever, lack of appetite, loss of sense of appetite and toothache. He feels miserable because of difficulty in breathing. The voice is also affected because of the blocked nose.
Sinusitis results from the congestion of the sinus passages due to catarrh. It is caused by oversecretion of mucus in the membranes lining the nose, throat and head. This oversecretion is due to irritation caused by toxins in the blood.
A faulty diet is, thus, the real cause of sinus trouble. When a person consumes certain types of food or drinks regularly, these, in due course, have a conditioning effect on the entire system. As a result, some persons become more sensitive to certain allergens, whose reaction ultimately turns into sinusitis.
The modern medical system regards sinus trouble as the result of allergy. After identifying the allergen, it prescribes medicines and injections to build up resistance in patients. This is a lengthy treatment which may provide momentary relief but does not provide a lasting cure. Patients are advised to avoid the use of or contact with well-known allergens such as certain spices, flowers, perfumes, smoke, certain plants, animals and so on. Often, it is very difficult to determine what the individual is allergic to.
Correcting the faulty diet is of utmost importance in the treatment of sinusitis. Patients should take balanced diet. Most persons with sinus trouble also suffer from acidity. Their diet should, therefore, veer to the alkaline side. The intake of salt should be reduced to the minimum as salt leads to accumulation of water in the tissues and expels calcium from the body.
In the acute stage of the disease, when fever is present, the patient should abstain from all solid foods and only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices diluted with water in the proportion of 50 : 50 . After the fever subsides, he may adopt a low-calorie raw fruit and vegetable diet with plenty of raw juices.
After the acute symptoms are over, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely seeds, nuts and grains ; vegetables and fruit. In persistent chronic conditions, repeated short juice fasts may be undertaken for a week or so at intervals of two months.
Those suffering from sinusitis should completely avoid fried and starchy foods, white sugar, white flour, rice, macaroni products, pies,cakes and candies. They should also avoid strong spices, meat and meat products. Butter and ghee should be used sparingly. Honey should be used for sweetening. All cooked foods should be freshly prepared for each meal. Vegetables should be taken in liberal quantities. All kinds of fruits can be taken with the exception of those belonging to citrus group such as lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit. Milk should be taken in liberal quantities as it contains calcium which has a marked effect in overcoming inflammation of the tissues.
A diet rich in vitamin A is the best insurance against cold and sinus trouble. Vitamin A is the " membrane conditioner" and it helps build healthy mucus membranes in the head and throat. Some of the valuable sources of this vitamin are whole milk, curds, egg yolk, pumpkin, carrot, leafy vegetables, tomato, mango and papaya.
The carrot juice used separately or in combination with juices of beet and cucumber or with spinach juice is highly beneficial in the treatment of sinus trouble. Three ounces each of beet and cucumber juice or six ounces of spinach juice should be mixed with 10 ounces of carrot juices in these combinations.
At times, cold application over the sinus will give great relief; at other times alternate hot and cold application will prove beneficial. Plenty of sleep, adequate rest and fresh air are essential in the treatment of sinusitis.