Dealing with Chronic Sinusitis via Massage Therapy

This free lesson comes to you from Licensed Massage Therapist Lonnie Winters. Lonnie resides and practices in Kentucky. He is also a singer and bass player and is currently working on his first book dedicated to massage therapy techniques for musicians. Being the heart of the spring allergy season, Lonnie and I wanted to cover sinus health issues and present some simple ways to help sinus sufferers deal with this problem:

Chronic Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal passages. Sinusitis can and may affect other parts of the body as well, including the throat, ears, teeth, and lungs. This can possibly lead to other complications, such as, upper respiratory infections, allergies, dental infections, and ear infections, which, in the case of the latter, may lead to an imbalance in the equilibrium.

The American academy of Otolaryngology describes Chronic Sinusitis as a prolonged sinus infection, which usually last 3 months or more. Unfortunately, people do not seek proper treatment in the case of sinusitis, due to the fact that most symptoms simulate the common cold. Severe sinus headaches and migraines are also a sign of Chronic Sinusitis.

Chronic Sinusitis affects more than 37 million Americans. It is the most chronic condition in the United States. Chronic Sinusitis can greatly affect one’s lifestyle, due to the constant pain and discomfort that one occurs. On the average, Americans miss an average of four days of work per year, due to the affects of sinusitis.

Bacteria, fungi, protozoa (a unicellular protist which ingests food), molds, and various viruses can cause sinusitis. For this reason, people with AIDS, Asthma, or Cystic Fibrosis have a greater risk of suffering from this condition. Children can also be affected, even though the sinuses aren’t fully developed until the age of 20.

Sinusitis causes a swelling of the nasal mucous membranes, which can create an obstruction in the nasal passages. Tiny hair-like filters called cilia act as filters in the nasal passages to prevent airborne particles from entering the lungs. Cilia are constantly swaying back and forth in a flowing motion to sweep the sinus passages clean of any airborne particles and mucous buildup. When the nasal passages are swollen, the flow of the cilia is slowed, and sometimes completely halted. Sinus congestion will result. Sinus congestion is caused by the over-production of mucus in the sinus passages. The prevention of the flow of cilia allows the hardening of mucous and mucous buildup, which sets up a home for infection. Mucus builds up and hardens in the sinus cavities, which stops the drainage of the sinus passages. If the sinus passages cannot properly drain, they will become stagnant, and infection will almost definitely occur.

The obstruction of the sinus passages and the accumulation of mucous can cause pain, headache, fever, and tenderness in the facial area. Several complications can occur from Chronic Sinusitis which include cavernous sinus thrombosis, meninges (ringing of the ears), or the spreading of infection to the bones, or brain.

Sneezing can also occur as a result of Chronic Sinusitis. Sneezing is caused by an irritation of the sinus membranes. Sneezing is an involuntary muscular act produced by the body to expel the unwanted particle from the sinuses. Any small airborne particle inhaled through the nose can cause sneezing and start the process towards a sinus infection. This may be due to allergies or an irritation of the sinuses.

If a person complains of any sinus discharge, excessive sneezing, post-nasal drip, headaches, hearing problems, ear infections, recurring colds or sinus allergies, this is a good sign that the person is experiencing Chronic Sinusitis. If any of these symptoms last ten days or more, you should contact your allergist or physician.

Another safe bet that a person is suffering from Chronic Sinusitis is the discharge of a thick yellow/green discharge of mucus, constant nasal congestion and pressure, and facial pain and headaches, lasting no less than four days. There is no known cure for Chronic Sinusitis. There are several treatments to relieve and possibly rid a person of the affects of Chronic Sinusitis, but there are no guarantees that the condition won’t return. Generally, Chronic Sinusitis is an acute condition, referred to as Severe Acute Sinusitis, or, Purulent Rhinitis. If the condition last 10-14 days with no improvement, it is generally known as Persistant Acute Sinusisits. Symptoms may include a thick nasal discharge, day and evening cough, and bad breath. If the condition consists and is not properly treated, the immune system could possibly be affected, requiring the aid of strong antiboitics to treat the system.

Excessive sinus drainage, or postnasal drip, is also the result of allergies and sinus irritation. There is an over-production of mucus that must drain. Blowing the nose helps to release mucus buildup. If allergies persist, whether housed in the sinuses or throat, consult an ear, nose, and throat doctor or a qualified allergist.

Blowing your nose can help to remove mucus buildup, but over blowing the nose can be more dangerous than helpful. Blowing the nose with too much force could actually cause a rupture in the sinuses, making the situation worse.

There are various treatments for relieving chronic sinusitis including; acupressure, steam inhalation, nasal decongestants, analgesics, and, as previously mentioned, for severe infections, strong antibiotics. Surgery has been used to improve deviations in the sinuses, and to improve sinus drainage, in severe cases.

Acupressure can be used to relieve sinus pressure. You can massage the forehead, hairline, cheeks, and sinus area. One simple massage would consist of placing the thumb and forefinger on either hand on the sides of the bridge of the nose. Squeeze the bridge of the nose for one second, and then release the pressure for one second. Repeat this process ten to fifteen times. This will open the sinuses for proper drainage. Massaging above and below the eyes will break up congestion as well.

Several over-the-counter remedies containing decongestants and analgesics will dry up the sinuses and help to promote sinus drainage. Menthol based products can also help to open the sinuses, either in lozenge form or in the form of an inhalant. Drying out the sinus passages isn’t necessarily a smart thing for singers though. Dry passages will prevent the cilia from functioning and will retard the healing process.

Problems can occur from the use of inhalants. A condition known as Recurrent Congestion can be the result of the abuse of sinus inhalants. Recurrent Congestion occurs when the sinuses become “addicted” to and “irritated” by the use of any type of sinus inhalant or spray. When this happens, the sinuses start to view the inhalant as an irritant and try to produce more mucus to rid the sinus passages of the irritant. Over production of mucus will overload the cilia and once again, halt the flow of cilia and clog the sinus passages, defeating the purpose of the sinus inhalant and/or spray.

A better solution would be to inhale steam. Inhaling steam deeply through the nose will break up sinus congestion. You can do this in the shower or by bending over a sink while running hot water. Cover your head with a towel if you use a sink to trap the steam. There are also portable steamers available on the market that you can use, which work quite well. They include a small metal bowl for holding water, and a small plastic mask that covers the mouth and nose. Steam alone will help to moisten and break up mucus in the sinus cavities. Small packets of menthol-based solutions are available for steamers, but again, the possibility of recurrent congestion is possible. Whatever method you choose, I suggest breathing in steam for approximately twenty minutes.

If the air in your house is too dry, you might want to add either a cool water mister, or a warm air humidifier to increase the humidity. Portable versions are available that can be used in the bedroom at night while you sleep to help promote sinus relief. The best solution I have found is a sinus flush. In order to perform a sinus flush you will need salt, water, and a small rubber ear syringe. Mix one cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt. The solution should be slightly salty to taste. If the solution is too salty it can burn your sinuses. Fill the syringe with the water solution. Tilt your head back, and fill one nostril with the solution until the water flows freely from the other nostril. Repeat this several times with each nostril until the sinuses are clear.

The sinus flush will break up stagnant mucus and flush any unwanted particles from the sinus cavities. The removal of mucus restores the natural flow of the cilia. When the cilia are free to flow, sinus drainage is returned to normal.

When you notice any signs of Chronic Sinusitis, take preventive methods; contact your physician, inhale steam and flush the sinuses to rid the sinuses of excessive mucus, and contact a qualified massage therapist to help restore the flow of the sinuses.

If you’d like to learn more about Lonnie Winters, or schedule an appointment you can contact him at http://www.amtamembers.com/lonniewinters.