by Wendy Kagan
Before filling that prescription, it's best to try a few natural remedies first for relieving the symptoms of sinusitis. Start by using a humidifier in the rooms where you spend the most time. For a quick burst of humidity, fill a sink halfway with boiling water, add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil or Vicks Vapo Rub, and drape a towel over you that covers both your head and the side of the sink to trap the steam. Breathe deeply. Applying a wet, warm towel to your face - particularly to the sinus passages on either side of the nose - can help relieve pressure.
Flushing out the nasal passages with a Neti Pot (filled with warm water spiked with salt) can help to remove any pollen, pollutants, or irritants that can exacerbate the condition. Or try using saline drops to keep nasal passages moist. Drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding alcohol (which is dehydrating), is key to overcoming sinusitis.
For the sinus condition that simply won't respond to natural self-care, medication might be necessary - whether it means a drugstore run for over-the-counter treatments (don't overuse these, however), or filling your doc's antibiotics prescription after all. Sit down with your MD and consider the options.
In cases of chronic sinusitis, which is diagnosed when the condition lasts more than 12 weeks, more extreme treatments are in order. Depending on the cause of the sinusitis, someone with the chronic form might be eligible for surgery. A good outpatient alternative is Balloon Angioplasty - a simple in-office procedure that opens blocked sinus pathways by inserting and inflating a small balloon. ENT Specialty Care, a practice in Goshen, offers this procedure, which reportedly can give instant relief to the long-suffering.