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Sinusitis: Dr. Starbuck Explains

Sinsusitis affects a lot of people.
Pixabay (public domain)
Sinsusitis affects a lot of people.

Drip, drip, drip, drip. A few simple clues will tell you when you’ve got sinusitis.

A nose that drips, some thick liquid dripping down the back of your throat, pressure or pain in your face or a head that feels so, so heavy. Your face and eyes might feel swollen and it might hurt when you bend over. Your voice could sound different, kind of low and rumbly. And you might have bad breath. That would be hard ...

Sinusitis, spelled S-I-N-U-S-I-T-I-S, is very common. In fact, if at this very moment we could count how many people all over the world have sinusitis, it would be thousands, maybe even millions. Think of all those people, blowing their noses and holding their heads and talking with thick, mucusy voices ... sheesh.

Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation in your sinuses. Your sinuses are air spaces in the bones of your head. They are right behind your cheeks, behind your nose and above your eyebrows. These spaces have moist walls and they drain down through tiny holes into your nose and throat. When you have sinusitis, the spaces are filled with mucus – thick yellow-green or white gunk – instead of air. If you have sinusitis, it will hurt when you press on your cheeks or your eyebrows or the sides of your nose.

Sinusitis is caused by an infection – usually a cold or the flu – or by allergies. This pretty much means that you can have sinusitis anytime. Kids who get sick a lot or kids with allergies, and I mean all kinds of allergies – pets, grass, dust or even food – have sinusitis more often than other people. Sinusitis caused by allergies is not contagious. The kind that’s caused by an infection won’t spread to a kid standing near you or touching you. But you have to throw out any tissues you use and wash your hands if you touch any of the mucus that comes out of your nose.

So what are you supposed to do if you have sinusitis? Well, first, you should tell your parents so they can figure out if you need to go to the doctor. If you get sinusitis a lot, a doctor can help you figure out why. If it’s just once or twice a year, you can probably fix sinusitis and feel better with my simple tips.

First try to get the mucus to drain out of your sinuses. You can do this by putting a moist hot pack on your face. Ask an adult to help you with this so you don’t burn yourself. Pour strong, hot peppermint tea over a facecloth and lay the facecloth over your face - from your mouth to your forehead. Put a dry towel over that and lay down with the cloth and towel on your face for about 15 minutes. When you take them off, splash your face with cold water and gently rub your cheeks and nose and eyebrows, the places where the sinuses are. Then blow your nose to get out some mucus.

Gargling is another way to drain your sinuses. Gargling vibrates your throat and sinus passages and helps them open to let the mucus out. Gargling also helps with bad breath. Plus it sounds and looks pretty cool. Gargling is when you put a little bit of salt water or mouthwash in your mouth, tip your head back and blow air out through your throat, making the liquid gurgle. If you’ve never done it, don’t try it until an adult is there to help.

You can also drink ginger, echinacea and mint tea. These herbs help your immune system fight an infection or allergies and the scent of them helps your sinuses drain. Finally, you can use a homeopathic nasal spray. These are safe and gentle medicines that you spray into your nose. They’re pretty fun. You just hold the tip of the bottle in your nose, and give it a squirt. They feel good and help reduce swelling and pain. Your parents can find homeopathic nasal sprays in stores that sell natural medicines

I hope you don’t suffer with sinusitis anytime soon. But if you do, I hope these tips help you recover quickly. I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck and I’m wishing you well.