Dr. Ivker — a board-certified holistic physician, 30-year practitioner, and Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians — combined his personal struggles with childhood hay fever with the extensive records from his practice to make a compelling discovery: most sinus infections and sinus problems started out as common colds that didn’t clear up.
Sinus Problems are Common
“An essential part of [the sinus infection] cure was the avoidance of colds—the physical cause for almost all of my sinus infections,” Dr. Ivker writes on his website, achooallergy.com. His theory makes intuitive sense, because common cold symptoms are typically less severe versions of sinus infection symptoms.
Dr. Ivker recommends taking aggressive action against colds at the onset of symptoms.
The single most important advice I can offer is for you to pay close attention to the messages your body is giving you through your physical symptoms. The earliest symptom of a cold is typically a sore throat, either accompanied or followed closely by some sneezing, feeling weak and achy, and mucus drainage (clear and thin mucus). Very often it will arise at a time when you’ve been experiencing more than your usual amount of stress, often involving time, pressure, and doing too many things at the same time.”
Symptoms of colds that may turn into sinus problems include:
- Sneezing and coughing
- Mucus drainage
- Mental fuzziness
While colds typically start out as small ailments, Dr. Ivker demonstrates how often they can grow more serious. It is important, he argues, for those with sinus problems to stay healthy and keep their immune systems strong to avoid colds.
Care Plan To Avoid Sinus Problems
For patients with a history of sinus problems, it’s helpful to develop a plan that they can execute as soon as they see these symptoms. At the first sign of a cold, consider this basic and comprehensive care plan for taking care of the body.
Sleep without an alarm clock for as many hours as the body wants, usually around 8-10 hours per night for most adults. This important recovery mechanism strengthens the immune system and repairs the body during the night.
There are natural herbs and dietary supplements that strengthen the immune function in the body. These include:
- 1200-2000 mg of garlic 3 times/day
- 125 mg of grapefruit seed extract 3 times/day (add to water to mask the taste)
- 3000-5000 mg of vitamin C 3 times/day
- 400 I.U. of vitamin E 2 times/day
- 200 mcg of selenium once/day
- 40-60 mg of zinc once/day
- 25,000 I.U. of beta carotene 3 times/day
- 400-600mg of magnesium once/day
- EPA 1,000-3,000 mg/DHA 500-900 mg of fish oil once/day
A good multi-vitamin taken 2-3 times per day will contain a good portion of these ingredients, but a person experiencing symptoms might want to up the amounts at the onset of sinus problems.
Another helpful natural remedy is drinking a 20-30% diluted solution of apple cider vinegar daily. Apple cider vinegar is said to thin the mucus, which makes it easier to drain. Herbs such as barberry, goldenseal, and Echinacea might help ease the pain caused by sinus headaches. Together, they can help alleviate symptoms dramatically.
Stay hydrated with at least half an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. (A 200 lb. man, for instance, should drink 100 oz. of water per day.)Develop a diet that consists primarily of organic vegetables and fruits and gluten-free grains such as brown rice and quinoa. Food allergies are a common cause for sinus infections, so cutting out dairy, legumes, wheat, or gluten grains will lower the risk of contracting a sinus problem. And avoid sugar — it weakens the immune system.
The neti pot is an ancient Indian remedy that pushes warm, salty water through the nostrils to clear out mucus. There are many different ways to do this, including substituting a saline solution for a salt-water solution.
Nasal spray is effective at the onset of sinus infections. Apply saline nasal spray, Sinus Rescue, homeopathic spray, or Xylitol spray as instructed on the label. These sprays help kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and can lessen inflammation.
Lifestyle is also important in combating symptoms. Because sinus problems can be caused by emotional distress, low-intensity forms of stress relief are recommended. Journaling, shedding tears, and using a punching bag for a few minutes are all effective methods of releasing anger, frustration, or grief. Remember that physical recovery in large part depends on emotional health.
Use a hot or warm compress for 3-5 minutes before switching to a cold compress for the same period of time. The hot compress will aid blood circulation, while the cold compress will reduce swelling. Doing this 5 times a day will relieve general pain symptoms.
Because dust and mold can irritate sinus problems, wood floors are recommended over carpeted floors. To handle mold on walls, floors, and bathroom and kitchen fixtures and tile, use a 5% bleach solution to clean the surfaces.
Acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and aromatherapy are common holistic treatments for sinus infections and headaches. Acupuncture is believed to help clear airways, while chiropractic treatment can help realign the spine, which is believed to put the body’s drainage passages back in order.
By taking a holistic approach to treating sinus problems and attacking the problem at the onset of the common cold, patients should be able to cut down the number of sinus incidents they have in a given year.