Our winters are fairly mild in Atlanta and that’s pretty good health wise because during the winter months and at other times when the air is very dry, it is important to keep our nasal passages moist.
Sinusitis is a common disease affecting more than 35 million people the US each year. Even though it is incredibly common, sinus infections are still among the most frequently misdiagnosed diseases in clinical practice.
The maxillary sinus is incredibly close to the maxillary teeth. In fact, it can often be seen on a dental x-ray situated above the molar and pre-molar teeth in the upper jaw. Because of this, it allows for easy spread of infection.
For sinusitis, often medical treatment of antibacterials is required for up to four weeks. In some instances, management may require surgical drainage as well as treatment to remove the dental cause such as dental abscesses. In some cases, dental treatment alone will resolve the issue.
There are also a number of home remedies which offer immediate relief from symptoms of sinusitis. These can be used to relieve pain and discomfort whilst waiting medical or surgical assistance.
I used to think my mother’s practice of medicine were just old wives tales, but practically applied her easy way to moisten your nasal passages is to sniff salt solution into both sides of the nose 2-4 times a day. To prepare a solution of proper strength, add 1/4 teaspoon of table salt to a cup of warm water, and stir it until all the salt has dissolved. Sniff some from a spoon or other small container into each nostril. Alternatively, you can buy ready-prepared nasal saline products, such as Ocean, Simply Saline or generic equivalents from drug stores. Such solutions can be used to wash away mucus from the membranous lining of the nasal passages. They also help by shrinking any parts of it that are swollen. This may save you a trip to the doctor. If this is not done, mucus and the swollen membranes around these openings may block openings of the sinuses into the nasal passages. Sinusitis will then occur if nasal bacteria infect the mucus, which can no longer drain from the blocked sinus. Treatment of sinusitis (rather than its prevention) often requires the use of antibiotics.
Some doctors are not enthusiastic about nasal saline irrigation since researchers found that it does not significantly reduce the incidence of colds. Personally, I am a little skeptical about a doctor’s hesitation to try a home remedy rather than popping a few pills. I don’t mean to confuse colds with sinusitis. Viruses cause colds, while sinusitis is a bacterial-induced complication for some colds. Irrigation of the nasal passages with saline cannot kill viruses or bacteria, but according to my favorite ENT patient, it can help to reduce the incidence of sinusitis in people with a tendency to develop this common complication of colds.
Part of the source for this article came from my mom and part came from the American Family Physician (70:1685 & 1697, “04) & Wall Street Journal (Dec.7″04, page D6).
Novy Scheinfeld DDS PC
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DMD
290 Carpenter Dr, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
3781 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Chamblee, GA 30341