Sinus Care Solutions
A Firsthand Experience
Last week, I accompanied my sister and her son on their trip to the allergist. Because so many doctors trust National Allergy with their patients, I thought it would be important for me to hear how doctors are interacting with and advising their patients so we can do our job better. I also figured that going on a doctor visit would be a great way to step into the shoes of so many of you who are making frequent visits to the allergist looking for answers.
My sister's adorable 3 , year old son has been having consistent stuffiness for a while and on the day of our doctor visit, exhibited the standard allergic red, puffy eyes. I enjoyed asking questions and learning more from the kind Physician's Assistant who was seeing us that evening. I was pleased with the constructive, non-drug solutions the PA recommended, such as mold prevention tips and elimination diet suggestions. Since my nephew did not get tested that evening (many allergists prefer not to test children under 5), we weren't able to pinpoint all of his allergens, but based on our conversation (and my auntly hunches), mold and dust seemed to be some of the major culprits. I went ahead and bought my sister a mold test kit so we can pinpoint whether airborne mold may be wearing down the little guy's immune system.
The Physician's Assistant also highly recommended nasal washing for my nephew. Though I had suggested this to my sister, I was glad to hear a professional make this assessment as well. To ease into this practice, the allergist recommended starting with a hypertonic saline mist in the morning and before bed, saying that this would help his nasal mucous trap offending allergens and would control some of his drainage.
Nasal Washing For Kids
Recalling the difficulty my sister has had in the past getting her son to put up with nasal spray applications, I was skeptical about his enthusiasm to try this type of therapy again. I couldn't help but think, "How on earth will this 3-year old let his mother squirt salt-water up his nose?"
The following articles were sent to me recently by Dr. Hana Solomon, MD and address such questions with practical, fun solutions. Dr. Solomon is a board-certified pediatrician in Missouri and has written numerous articles on the subject of nasal health. In fact, she's so passionate about the benefits of nasal washing for kids and adults that she developed her own delivery system called NasoPure! I respect her study and passion for this subject matter and think you can benefit from her insight, especially if you have children and want to get them started with this healthy habit
- My Child Is Terrified Of Water In The Nose
- Teaching Your Child To Blow Their Nose
- Nasal Washing for 2 - 3 Year Olds
- Nasal Washing for 4 - 6 Year Olds
- Nasal Washing for 7 - 9 Year Olds
Nasal irrigation (also called nasal washing or rinsing) is not only helpful for relieving congested conditions, but it can also help protect the body from colds and the flu. I copied this entire article by Dr. Solomon for you because it is a good re-fresher on the process and method of nasal washing, as well as the benefits!
Nasal Washing Works During The Cold and Flu Season
My patients often say "you want me to do what for my nasal congestion?" I explain why nasal washing makes sense, why it is safe, and why it is effective in reducing both the symptoms and the use of medications. I then demonstrate the simple technique to patients as young as 3 years of age and as old as 90 and they are ready to try it. In this way I have found that educating my patients about nasal washing has resulted in my services being required less and less during the winter cold and flu season. You may think I am trying to put myself out of business but since my job is keeping people healthy and helping them feel better, I love teaching people how to wash their noses.
With cold and flu season here, this is a wonderful time to share basic preventive health care. It has been clearly demonstrated that regular nasal washing will reduce the number of infections a person experiences. Exposure to irritants such as bacteria and viruses causes swelling of the mucus membranes, causes an increase in mucus production, creates thicker and stickier mucus, and generally prevents the normal flow. A
buffered salt solution washes particles out, shrinks nasal membranes, increases the efficiency of the nose hairs, thins secretions, and allows the tiny sinus openings to drain.
Nasal washes are also useful for allergy sufferers, firefighters, factory workers, farmers, gardeners, painters and others who frequently encounter pollutants. Exercise enthusiasts and people who are fed up with using too many medications sincerely appreciate the benefits of cleaning their nose. It is clear that antibiotics and antihistamines as well as nasal steroids are prescribed very easily. However, the side effects, the expense, the potential drug interactions AND the development of bacterial resistance is a concerning issue for our modern society. I tell my patients when discussing any recommended treatment option, "You should look at the pros and cons of each option offered to you prior to making your decision." How can washing with salt water hurt?
Nasal cleanliness is central to good health and is effective for anyone that wishes to prevent nasal woes or wishes to reduce their use of medications. It is important to have a system that makes washing easy, safe and effective. There are several methods currently available. The Nasopure Nasal Wash is a system I personally developed after years of teaching this practice to my patients. By listening to my patients I was able to create a unique bottle with premixed saline packets that enhance convenience and compliance. Nasopure makes it easy.
People are more likely to wash their nasal passages if it is incorporated into their daily routine - like brushing teeth, washing hands, shampooing hair, and YES: Nasal Washing!
Nasal Irrigation And Chronic Sinusitis
As you have read, nasal irrigation is being prescribed by more and more allergists and pediatricians as a preventative and treatment for sinus and nasal congestion. But among ear, nose and throat physicians, nasal irrigation has long been prescribed for patients as a post-operative care procedure and as treatment for chronic sinusitis sufferers as written in various medical journals.
"Nasal irrigation is effective in improving symptoms and the health status of patients with sinonasal disease."
LARYNGOSCOPE 2000;110:1189-1193 Lance T. Tomooka, MSIV; Claire Murphy, PhD; Terence M. Davidson, MD
"Daily nasal irrigation resulted in improvement in the symptoms of chronic sinusitis in over 70% of subjects. Medication usage was decreased in approximately one third of patientsú"
OTOLARYNGOLOGY HEAD NECK SURGERY 2001 Jul; 125(1):44-8;
One of the most recommended irrigation tools is the Hydro Pulse Nasal Irrigation System. Invented by a board-certified ENT, the Hydro Pulse uses both positive-pressure and pulsatile irrigation. In other words, the flow of water pulsates and matches the natural movement of the nasal cilia, providing the most effective cleaning mechanism. Because it is FDA registered and designed only for nasal irrigation, many insurance companies will reimburse you for the purchase of a Hydro Pulse.
Mold Control - A Sinus Care MUST
If you are one of the nearly 37 million chronic sinusitis sufferers, or you are just trying to prevent any future nose and sinus congestion, controlling mold in the environment is a primary defense. In a 1999 Mayo Clinic study, researchers found that most chronic sinus infections were caused by an immune system response to fungus (mold). While many in the medical field are still treating the symptoms of infection rather than the causes, more and more allergists and ENTs are understanding the detrimental effects of mold in the environment on sinus health and how to stop future sinus infections before they start.
Like some of you, my mom suffers from serious, recurring sinus infections. Up until now, her doctors' most common prescription has been heavy doses of antibiotics. In most cases, this treatment method has been necessary to stave off the worsening infection. Unfortunately, her current physician has not taken the time to ask the right questions and offer a more thorough diagnosis. Seeing my mom struggle through these infections, and knowing that she has always had mold sensitivities has ignited my passion to know more about mold and fungus and their relation to sinus problems. I have recently sent mom some products like SinoFresh, an anti-fungal nasal spray, and CitriSafe, a botanical solution to treat airborne mold. She and I have exchanged emails and phone calls about recent sinus and mold research. And having "poured over" all the information, she's concluded that she must in fact have fungal sinusitis. While I am thankful that the prescribed antibiotics improved her symptoms this year (although last year they just made her sicker), I look forward to the day when she can prevent infection before it starts by avoiding mold and mildew and washing it from her nose.
Methods For Avoiding Mold
Dr. Donald Dennis, MD is an ear, nose and throat physician and the author of another recent study espousing the danger of mold on the condition of the sinuses. He agrees that the two most important factors to maintaining drainage in blocked sinuses are removing the mold in your nose and removing the mold in the air you breathe. Dr. Dennis' sinus protocol for his fungal sinusitis patients packs a punch and gets results. You can read the complete protocol in our Chronic Sinusitis Section or by reading Dr. Dennis' published study. In the meantime, here are some products that are recommended for avoiding mold and controlling fungal sinusitis:
- Mold Test Kit - Test your home's airborne mold counts. They should be no more than 4 colonies per any given room.
- CitriSafe Air Treatment Solution - This all-natural air sanitizer is great for bathrooms or small rooms. It will dramatically reduce airborne mold count.
- Agrumax Antifungal Solution - Get to the source of sinusitis in your nose with this all-natural antifungal. It works well in a nasal spray application.
- Santa Fe Whole House Dehumidifier - The ultimate tool for keeping your home's humidity at safe levels. Mold AND dust mites are unable to thrive in the low-humidity environments this workhorse can create.
Additional Suggestions & Resources
If it seems I covered a lot of topics in this letter, I did! But they are all inter-related and all are a pertinent part of maintaining a healthy home and family. Sinus problems don't just occur in the spring and fall, as many of you know, so take action today to have healthy sinuses!
- Avoid offending allergens like dust, pollen and animal dander.
- Remember that mold is more of a sinus enemy than you realize. Be sure your home is clear of possible mold sources. (Note: Mold is not just a summer problem. Winter months make spores drier and prone to dispersion by our heating systems.)
- Develop a new habit! Just like brushing your teeth is pertinent to dental care, daily rinsing keeps nasal passages moist, washes out irritants, and helps maintain optimum nasal and sinus health.
- Educate Yourself -