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03 May 2015

Feeling stuffed up?

There are several reasons why we may feel sinus congestion.  It occurs most commonly from colds, sinus infections, and allergies. It is less commonly from structural anomalies within the sinuses. Here are some common reasons we may feel the sniffles and natural therapies to help:

The Common Cold

When sinus congestion is caused by a cold, the onset is sudden, occurs any time of year, and the mucous that is produced is typically white. Symptoms include a runny nose but do not typically include itching. These are most commonly caused by a virus and are usually short lived. Antibiotics do not work for these infections but anti-viral and immune supportive herbs work great. Elderberry syrup is a wonderful anti-viral herbal supplement to consider for the common cold.

Sinus Infections

When sinus congestion is from a sinus infection, the onset can be sudden or it can follow a cold or even allergies. It can occur any time of year and the mucous that is produced is thick and yellow or green. Symptoms may include a runny nose or the mucous may be so thick that it does not run. There is less commonly symptoms of itching. These infections are most commonly caused by bacteria and resolve within 4-10 days. They occur when the environment within the sinuses is damp and provides a nice home for bacteria to thrive. That is why they commonly occur after a cold or with allergy symptoms. Antibiotics are commonly dispensed for these, but come with a list of side effects. Anti-bacterial and immune supportive herbs are a great alternative that are safe and effective, without the side effects. Echinacea, goldenseal, thyme, oregano, and eucalyptus oil are all great anti-bacterial and immune supportive herbs to consider.

When symptoms of a sinus infection last more than 7-10 days or if you suffer from frequent sinus congestion and the discharge is yellow or green, this means you have chronic sinus infections from bacteria. While this suggests that bacteria are the reason for sinus congestion, allergies or food sensitivities typically initiate the problem. Work with a naturopathic doctor, like myself, to determine your food sensitivities so you can start feeling better right away.


When sinus congestion is from allergies, it is called allergic rhinitis. The symptoms occur frequently through out the year if it is due to food or indoor exposures and the symptoms occur in the spring and fall with outdoor allergies. The mucous is thin and clear unless it turns into an infection, in which you might see yellow or green. The symptoms usually include sneezing and itching and can affect other areas close to the sinuses, such as the eyes and throat, as well. Antibiotics do not work for allergies. There are over the counter anti-histamines, which come with potential side effects and can make you tired. Herbal anti-histamines provide non-drowsy relief, are safe and effective. Try “D-Hist” by Orthomolecular. It comes in capsule form for adults and a chewable form for kids, called “D-Hist Jr.”.

Receive an additional 5% off (that’s a total of 15% off for existing patients) on D-Hist or D-Hist Jr. during the month of May!

If you would like to purchase any of the supplements listed above, place an order online. For more information on foods that contribute to sinus congestion and foods that can relieve it, come back to read next week’s blog. For more personalized recommendations for your sinus congestion, contact me. I would be happy to provide you with a comprehensive plan to feel better.

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