Can Chiropractic Fix Sinusitis?
If you regularly deal with sinus issues, this list of Frequently Asked Questions with answers provided by our chiropractors may help you.
Are you plagued by continual sinus pressure and inflammation? Have you tried multiple medications, but nothing seems to help? Don’t give up hope. Our chiropractors have compiled a list of frequently asked questions that our patients have asked us along with answers about chronic sinusitis.
Does my nose need to have a discharge in order to be diagnosed with sinusitis? Sinusitis can be caused by an infection, but not always. Sinusitis can be due to inflammation caused by dust or other allergens/irritants such as mold spores and pollen. If the inflammation is deep in the sinus cavity, there may not be any sinus discharge due to the swelling of the mucosal lining of the sinuses. This swelling can stop the discharge from draining down into the nasal passages. A discharge cannot be the determining factor in diagnosing sinusitis.
Why is my eye sore when I get sinusitis? The area around the eyes can become sore when your sinuses become inflamed. This is because the frontal, ethmoid, and maxillary sinuses directly surround the eyes. When the sinuses become swollen it can cause the nearby eye muscles to become irritated and sore. This can also cause eye movement to also become painful.
Why does pollen bother me? When you are sensitive to a type of pollen (such as pine pollen, oak pollen, maple pollen, ragweed pollen, or pollen from flower blossoms), the pollen may trigger you body’s immune response. This may involve coughing, sneezing, and sinus drainage. The physical qualities of pollen make it an incredible irritant to the nasal cavity and sinuses. Pollen is very small particle that has many sharp spiked edges used to attach itself to the mucosal lining of the nose and sinuses. This can greatly irritate the nose and stimulate an immune response causing your itchy eyes, runny nose and sinus headache.
Can exposure to dust or mold cause my sinusitis to flare up? Mold and dust can hide in unexpected places. So they can be causing you some sinus irritation without you even being aware of it. Dust can get trapped on curtains, beneath furniture, inside air vents, on door frames, and inside carpet. When your heat or air conditioning system starts moving air around inside your home, it can stir up dust and propel it through the air. Once this occurs, it can be inhaled through the nose into the sinuses. Warmer climates usually have more of an issue with mold than colder climates. Mold can grow on shower curtains, sinks, and even inside walls. Both mold and dust can inflame the sinuses.
Why are my ears itchy? The sinuses in the face help with reducing middle ear pressure by way of the Eustachian tube. This tube connects the middle ear to the sinuses and throat. During sinusitis, the pressure from the middle ear cannot be reduced and will cause inflammation in the section of the Eustachian tube closest to the ear. This will irritate the middle ear and Eustachian tube causing itching and tenderness in the ear and throat. The chiropractors at our office have experience in gently tugging on the ear lobe at the correct angle to open the Eustachian tubes, allowing them to drain.
Can sinusitis cause vertigo? Yes, definitely. Pressure on the inside of the ears due to surrounding inflammation can affect your body’s vestibulocochlear system. This is the part of your body that affects balance and body positioning (such as the position of your head as you look in different directions). Inflamed or infected sinuses can cause you to feel as if the room is spinning.
“How come this sinus problem isn’t going away?” We have had patients who struggle with reoccurring sinus issues. They last for months. Sometimes the sinusitis returns several years in a row. Sometimes antibiotics and corticosteroids can work well, but on occasion they do not seem to be the best treatment. It is possible that conventional treatment does not alleviate your symptoms. This is a situation when alternative treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic may work better.
Can I still have a sinus infection even though my family doctor says I don’t have it? Sometimes your family doctor will diagnose a sinus infection through bloodwork or through a physical examination. Sometimes your bloodwork can come back negative for an infection and you lack any symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes or runny nose. This may end up with you being diagnosed with allergies, when you actually may still have a low grade sinus infection.
Can a chiropractor help fix my stuffy ears? Some chiropractors have experience with opening the Eustachian tubes. This is done by tilting the patient’s head and gently tugging on the ear lobe at a specific angle. After the Eustachian tube has been unclogged, fluid can once again drain properly.
Why is my sinus headache so horrible? A sinus headache can be particularly uncomfortable. However, the most painful headaches can involve a person experiencing more than one type of headache at the same time. For example, you could have a sinus headache and a tension headache simultaneously. Some people might have a sinus headache alongside an occipital headache, which then triggers a migraine headache. It’s important to find out what specific types of headaches you are experiencing. If your sinus headache is caused by a serious infection, you may require the use of antibiotics to prevent blood poisoning or the infection spreading to the brain.
Why does my sinus headache feel worse when I lie down or tilt my head? Mucus can build up in your sinus cavities. Tilting your head forward can cause mucus to shift. Lying down can cause mucus to build up, instead of draining with gravity. Sinus pressure is meant to be alleviated by draining downward toward the nose and throat. When the head is tilted or moved it causes the sinus pressure to move upward. This pressure is intensified and feels much worse until the head is in a straight position.
Can sinus problems cause me to cough? Coughing can be a major problem with sinusitis. During sinusitis sinus fluid and mucous will drain out the nose or into the back of the throat. When the drainage enters the back of the throat it will irritate the soft sensitive tissue near the epiglottis. The epiglottis covers the trachea (windpipe) while swallowing. Some of the drainage can seep into the trachea and upper lungs causing you to cough. You may also feel the need to continuously clear your throat.
Should I use a neti pot? A neti pot (or nasal irrigation) is a great treatment for people with sinusitis. It involves bathing the sinuses in warm salt water. You combine warm distilled water with a small amount of special salt (you can purchase pH balanced salt that feels more comfortable than table salt). The very first time you try to use a neti pot, it is recommended that you do so when your sinuses aren’t completely congested so that you get a better understanding of how the neti pot is supposed to work. The water should pass from the pot into your nose on one side, then flow out the opposite side of your nose. You can speak with your health care professional to determine whether or not to add two drops of natural oil of oregano to your neti pot mixture. It is important to understand that, although many people experience relief from using a neti pot, nasal irrigation isn’t for everyone. Some people respond well, but for others, it isn’t a comfortable experience.
Can a problem with my sinuses cause my teeth to ache? Yes, some people do experience a “tooth ache” feeling when they get sinusitis. This is because the swelling around the inflamed sinuses can put pressure on nearby nerves. Some of these nerves go to the teeth. When these nerves get irritated, you can feel pain in one or more teeth. Luckily, the discomfort goes away when your sinus pressure reduces.
As you can see by many of the questions above, sinusitis can make life miserable for many people. Chronic sinusitis can negatively impact your ability to focus on tasks and perform daily activities. Fortunately, chiropractors can help people with their sinusitis in a number of ways.
Chiropractors can carefully adjust the small bones in the spinal column at the top of the neck. This treatment removes pressure from the occipital nerve and other nearby nerves that are associated with headaches. It also relaxes the muscles in your neck and the back of your skull.
Chiropractors who have experience with helping sinusitis patients are sometimes able to open the Eustachian tubes by gently tugging on the patient’s ears. This “unclogs” the Eustachian tubes and allows mucous to drain from the sinuses into the back of the throat. It also relieves uncomfortable pressure deep inside the ear.
Some chiropractors can gently move the bones of the skull over the area of the affected sinuses. This procedure is sometimes referred to as “Facial Cranial Release.” When this is performed, the facial bones can slide into a more comfortable position, but there is not usually a crack or click sound that is often associated with other types of chiropractic adjustments. This opens the sinuses and permits excess mucous to exit the sinus cavity.
Chiropractors can make specific recommendations about your home environment. For example, your chiropractor may recommend changing air filters in your A/C system, recommend duct cleaning, cleaning your carpets, removing stuffed animals from children’s rooms, bathing your pet dog, closing your windows when there is a high pollen concentration, etc.
Chiropractors can address dietary changes. Some people notice a reduction in sinus issues when they eliminate specific foods (i.e. wheat or dairy). There may be certain foods that are causing some additional inflammation in your body. This may be worsening you sinusitis.
If you have been struggling with sinus problems for years, but have not found a good chiropractor who is experienced with sinusitis, you are missing out. There is probably a chiropractor in your neighborhood who can help.