Sinus Infection

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-05-14 (EDT)

Acute and chronic sinusitis are common conditions leading to individuals seeking medical attention, and is currently the most common respiratory condition worldwide. A small percentage of sinusitis cases can be attributed to infectious agents, while the majority are inflammatory in nature and do not respond to antibiotic agents.[1]

Sinus Infection

Sinus Infection
Causes Infections, Smoking, Allergies, Environmental Toxins, Dietary Factors
See Also Respiratory Conditions, Food Allergies, Food Sensitivities, Environmental Allergies, Upper Respiratory Infection (Common Cold), GERD
Books Books on Head, Ears, Nose and Throat Conditions
Articles Articles on Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. In sinusitis, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to the development and progression of acute or chronic sinusitis.



  • Infections are one of the main causes of acute sinus infections.
  • Air Pollution
  • Both indoor and outdoor air pollution are major risk factors for the development of sinusitis. Breathing polluted air causes chronic irritation of the mucous membranes contributing to the development of sinusitis.[2]
  • Climate
  • Air with less than 30% relative humidity (such as forced air heating systems, automobile a/c, and oxygen therapy) and temperatures lower than 65F contribute to sinusitis.[2]


  • Exposure to tobacco smoke can cause inflammation of the nasal mucosa and predispose to sinusitis.[3]
  • Occupational Hazards
  • Mechanics, construction workers, carpenters, painters, beauticians, firemen, and airline personnel are at increased risk of sinusitis due to exposure to environmental toxins.[2]

Medical Interventions


  • The use of antihistamines and vasoconstrictors to treat sinus congestion can cause rebound congestion after discontinuing use.[4]

Diagnostic Testing

Practitioners suspecting sinusitis will complete a visual inspection of the nasal mucosa with a nasal speculum to assess colour, edema, nasal secretions, polyps, and the condition of the nasal septum. Palpation of the maxillary and frontal sinuses for tenderness and transillumination can also help to identify cases of sinusitis. In some cases extra testing may be required including:[1]

Imaging Studies

  • Imaging studies including plain radiograph, CT, ultrasound, and MRI may be used to confirm a diagnosis of sinusitis.

Laboratory Studies

  • Maxillary sinus aspiration or endoscopy may be used to to perform a culture to identify the pathogen involved in bacterial sinusitis.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Sinus infections are commonly associated with the following conditions:[4][3]


Common Symptoms

Common symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis include:[2][4]

  • Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Head congestion
  • Rhinorrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Post nasal drip
  • Fever
  • Chills

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include: Since up to 85% of chronic sinusitis cases may be attributed to allergies, it is important to reduce the allergenic load on an individual prone to developing sinus infections. Strategies to reduce indoor allergens in the home include:[4]

  • Eliminate dust mites (warm water washing)
  • Install high efficiency particulate air filter
  • Maintain humidity under 50%
  • Remove pets if necessary
  • Remove carpeting and feather bedding


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Dietary recommendations
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.
  • Regular exercise can decrease the severity and frequency of sinus infections.
  • Addressing any postural misalignment issues of the head and neck can prove beneficial.
  • Proper breathing can decrease the severity and frequency of sinus infections.
  • Alternate nostril breathing and other specific breathing techniques can help with clearing out the sinuses.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for sinus infections include:

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the varied presentations of sinusitis, and treatment is dependent on detailed assessment. Treatment principles utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine to address sinusitis include:[8]
  • Expel Wind Heat
  • Clear Heat in Liver and Gallbladder
  • Clear Lung Heat
  • Tonify Spleen and Expel Spleen Damp Heat
  • Using hydrotherapy on the feet may be beneficial. Chest diathermy and local application of hot packs over sinuses may be effective. Nasal irrigation with water or hydrastis tea can reduce congestion.[4]
  • Addressing any postural misalignment issues of the face, head or neck can assist with proper drainage of the sinuses.
  • Bodywork that may helpful includes: sinus massage, lymphatic drainage, and Cranial Sacral therapy.


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Leung RS (2008) The Diagnosis and Management of Acute and Chronic Sinusitis Prim Care 35(1);11-24
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ivker RS (2012) Rakel: Integrative Medicine 3rd ed Chap 15 Chronic Sinusitis Saunders
  3. 3.0 3.1 DeMuri GP, Wald ER (2009) Mandell: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases 7th ed Chap 58 Sinusitis Churchill Livingstone
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Murray MT, Bongiorno PB (2006) Pizzorno Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd ed Chap 153 Bacterial Sinusitis Elsevier.
  5. Lu Henry (1986) Chinese System of Food Cures, prevention and remedies Sterling Publishing Co. New York.
  6. Guo R, Canter PH, Ernst E (2006) Herbal Medicines for the treatment of Rhinosinusitis: a systematic review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Sug 135(4)496-506
  7. Goos KH, Albrecht U, Schneider B (2006) Efficacy and safety profile of a herbal drug containing nasturtium herb and horseradish root in acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis and acute urinary tract infection in comparison with other treatments in the daily practice/results of a prospective cohort study Arzneimittelforschung 56(3):249-57
  8. Kuoch DJ (2007) Acupuncture Desk Reference 2nd ed Acumedwest.