What are the sinuses?
Your sinuses are hollow spaces in your face and skull bones. There are 4 different pairs of sinuses in your head, and they are named after the bone they are located in. The first is the maxillary sinuses, these are located on either side of your nose, near your cheek bones. These are the largest of your sinuses. The second is your frontal sinuses, these are located above and in between your eyes, at the bottom of your forehead. The third are your ethmoid sinuses, these are located on either side of the bridge of your nose, near your eyes. There are 3 pairs of ethmoid sinuses. These are located in the ethmoid bone which is the bone that separates the nasal cavity from the brain. The fourth is the sphenoid sinuses, which are located behind your eyes, deeper into your skull. All together these are called the paranasal sinuses however if any infection occurs it can cause Sinusitis.
When you breathe air in through your nose or mouth, it then moves through your sinuses. Your sinuses are also what produce the mucus that coats and lubricates your nasal passage. There are small hairs called cilia that help to move the mucus through the sinuses. The mucus then drains into you nasal passages and then down the back of your throat where it gets swallowed. This helps to keep your nose moist, and filters out dust and bacteria. The sinuses also help to protect your face in case of trauma, help with immunological defence, insulate against rapid temperature changes, lighten the weight of the head, and they give your voice resonance as the air vibrates in your sinuses.
What is sinusitis?
Sometimes the lining of your sinuses can become infected, causing pain and inflammation, this is called sinusitis. This tends to happen after an infection of your upper airways, such as a common cold, or after having hay fever or some other type of allergy. Viral infections are the most common cause of sinusitis, but it can also be caused by bacterial infections. Some people get this sinus problem more than others, they may even get it after every cold, and there are things that can increase your risk of getting sinusitis. These things include smoking, having allergies, regular use of nasal decongestants, dental disease or infection, a deviated nasal septum (usually due to injury), changes in air pressure (such as during an airplane flight or during scuba diving), spending a lot of time in an environment where lots of germs are likely to be present (such as a daycare), having a condition that weakens your immune system, or a condition that causes ciliary dysmotility (cystic fibrosis or Kartagener’s syndrome). This sinus problem usually develops after a common cold, and this is because the mucus in your sinuses gets thick and sticky. This causes your sinuses not to drain properly, causing a build up of mucus that is usually filled with bacteria. Your maxillary sinuses are the most likely to become infected.
Sinusitis is usually diagnosed from the symptoms. The symptoms of sinusitis are:
- A feeling of heaviness or fullness in the face
- Pain or pressure in your forehead, cheeks, or ears
- Thick, sticky mucus coming from your nose, this may be cloudy or greenish yellow in colour
- Mucus dripping down the back of your throat, this may give you a sore throat or a cough
- A blocked nose or runny nose, making it harder to breathe
- Tenderness in the face, especially around the eyes
- A headache
- Loss of taste and/or smell
Less common symptoms include:
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Bad breath
How can chiropractic help with sinusitis?
There are a few ways that chiropractors can help with sinusitis if it is something you are suffering from. The first is by draining your sinuses. If you are suffering from a sinus problem such as this, it is likely that your sinuses are full of mucus and creating a lot of pain and discomfort. Chiropractors are able to apply pressure to the sinuses in a specific way to help drain the mucus from them. This can provide immediate relief and help alleviate the feeling of heaviness and fullness in the face, as well as making breathing easier.
Another way they can help is by adjusting the bones in your face and skull. Just like they can adjust the bones in your spine, chiropractors are also able to adjust the bones of your face and skull if these have become misaligned. If these bones are misaligned it can leave you more susceptible to your sinuses filling up and becoming infected due to the pressure it causes in the sinuses. Having these bones adjusted can relieve the pressure in the sinuses, providing relief for those suffering with sinusitis, and reducing the chance of the sinuses becoming infected in the first place.
Another way chiropractors can help with sinus problems is by adjusting the rest of the spine. Your spine and your nervous system are very closely related, and if there are areas of your spine that are misaligned, this can cause interference of the nervous system. Your nervous system controls everything in your body, and if it is not working at its best, this can also cause your immune system to be weakened, leaving you more vulnerable to sickness and infection. By adjusting your spine, chiropractors are making sure that your nervous system and therefore your immune system are all functioning well, keeping you well and healthy. This helps reduce the chance of becoming sick and developing sinusitis, and will allow you to heal and recover quicker if you do develop it.
What can you do at home to help with sinus problems?
- Get lots of rest to help your body heal and recover faster from the infection.
- Drink lots of water, as this will help to thin out the mucus in your sinuses.
- Heat is very helpful. There are a few ways you can use heat. You can have a hot shower. You can put a hot compress or heat pack over your face. You can fill a bowl with hot water and inhale the steam coming off it. Be sure not to burn yourself.
- Take vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system.