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July 24th, 2015 | Posted in 3 Various Specific Problems

Understanding Sinusitis from a Chinese perspective  Posted on Apr 19, 2012 in Stress Articles/Blogs  [Acupuncture Council of Ireland]#adapted

Most of us take our ability to breathe effortlessly for granted. But those of us that suffer with the sinuses, well it’s pretty appalling. Headache, pain in the face, stuffed or runny nose, post nasal drip, sneezing, awful taste in the mouth, dizziness, upset stomach are only some of the symptoms of a sinus condition. So out comes the neurofen, the paracetamol, the nasal spray, the decongestants and many more over the counter products in the hope that they work immediately and allow you to continue your day in better form. If they don’t then it’s off to the Dr’s for an antibiotic. But, by this time perhaps a week has passed or more which has allowed the problem to go deeper into the body presenting itself perhaps as a chest infection as well. Most cases presenting to an acupuncturist have been down this route time and time again. Interestingly, after receiving acupuncture for their sinuses they then opt for acupuncture as their first treatment preference. Why? Apart from the fact that it works, acupuncturists look for the cause, for the weakness or disharmony in the body that has allowed this to happen in the first place.

Sinusitis is simply an inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the sinus cavities. Acute or chronic inflammation causes the mucous membranes to secrete more mucous, sometimes to the point where the tissues in the nasal cavities can become swollen. This can then prevent drainage. So the nose becomes congested, you can lose your sense of smell (anosmia) and pain can develop in the face and head area. The drainage route can then move to the back of the nose to get a post nasal drip, a cough, sore throat and yellow or green production of mucous.

Acute sinusitis is usually due to a secondary bacterial infection following a prior viral chest infection or an allergic type reaction in the nasal area from the environment, better known as allergic rhinitis.

Chronic sinusitis may have no signs of acute infection but over a period of weeks and months the signs include pain in the face, neck or head, loss of appetite, a cough that is usually worse at night with daytime fatigue or a general sense of malaise.  A primary cause of chronic sinusitis is the fact that an acute sinusitis was treated ineffectively, which then leads to further attacks. Other causes are overuse of nasal sprays, smoking, swimming, diving, allergies, or decongestant as the Chinese say an underlying disharmony within the body that presents itself as sinusitis.

The pattern of disharmony identified by acupuncture can be varied and different. Examples could be:  overeating fats, hot spicy foods, sweets, or drinking alcohol, which can engender or create what we say is ‘damp’ and ‘heat’ in the body. Damp then congeals or thickens to form phlegm while heat moves upwards (a bit like steam) and lodges in the orifices of the lungs, which include the nasal cavities. This damp and heat can be attributed to a weakness in the spleen energy system.

Sinusitis can develop from a variety of sources in Chinese medicine, but from a western perspective it is bacterial, a chronic inflammation or environmental. It does not consider how fluids or heat act, or the present state of the body internally as a complete system with this condition unless of course it is your adenoids. If it is appropriate, these are then removed. Acupuncturists look for a root cause and treat the root along with the presenting signs and symptoms. We also consider how one system affects the functioning of another, short term and long term and  an underlying disharmony is also treated.