By Simon Coghlan - MSc BSc(Hons) Physio DipMedAc MISCP BMAS
Sinusitis was a particularly unpleasant component of the flu that swept the country over a recent summer.
Those of you who have suffered from sinusitis, which is a common condition in its own right, will know that it can cause much discomfort about the head and face. To discuss the causes and symptoms of sinusitis, you need to understand the relevant anatomy.
The sinuses are spaces or small cavities naturally occurring within the bones of the skull. The cavities are lined with a mucus producing coating, whose job it is to protect the body from airbourne infection. They provide the first barrier to airbourne germs.
The sinuses are normally filled with air. There are four pairs of sinuses and the ones which are most prone to infection and inflammation are located between the eyes and either side of the nose.
Sinusitis may be caused by viral or bacterial infection, allergy or a reaction to dust or environmental pollutants.
Diet may also be a factor in the development of long standing sinusitis. The body may find certain food items difficult to digest. If these types of food are consumed on a regular basis this may lead to the development and retention of phlegm which may predispose one to sinusitis.
When the sinuses become inflamed they tend to fill up with a thick fluid resulting in sinus congestion. It is the anatomy of the sinuses that creates the problem of sinusitis.
The openings into the sinuses are narrow and so if there is already inflammation, then further infection and inflammation makes the cavities prone to blockage. This results in the stagnation of fluids in the nose and the sinuses. The main symptoms of sinusitis are a purulent (pus) yellow nasal discharge from the back of the nose (into the throat), a stuffed nose, a frontal headache, pain in the face area and a feeling of ‘muzziness’ and heaviness of the head. The sinuses may also be tender to touch.
Medical Acupuncture is being used alongside conventional medical treatment by growing numbers of medical doctors and allied health practitioners such as chartered physiotherapists. It is a simple but effective form of treatment which can be used to assist the treatment of sinusitis.
Medical Acupuncture can be very effective in providing pain relief and a reduction in congestion. This allows better air flow through the sinuses and an improvement in immune function. Very fine needles are used around the face and hands. The needles and are inserted carefully through the skin to avoid undue discomfort. Many people report immediate reduction in pain in a single session, with rapid improvement in breathing and the sense of smell.
Medical acupuncture assists to dry up the post-nasal drip and stimulates the body to heal and clear inflammation. The number of sessions required will vary according to how long the sinus problems have been present, but commonly a very short course will make a substantial difference.