By Kimberly Wong, Natural Solutions
When October rolls around in San Francisco, a burst of warm weather makes locals forget the chilly summer that fogged them in for months. But for 37-year-old waitress and student Tiffinie McEntire, it’s the time when her allergies often turn into a nightmarish bout of sinusitis.
“When the weather changes drastically, that’s bad news for me,” she says. “My nose gets clogged, my eyes get watery, and if I touch my face it hurts. My whole head just feels like it’s going to pop.”
More than 32 million people suffer from such misery-making symptoms, which are typical of chronic sinusitis–an inflammation of the sinus cavities that can drag on for weeks. When agitated by allergies or a cold (or sometimes because of an abnormality in the sinuses), the mucous membrane lining the nose and sinuses swells, closing off the nasal passages.
“It’s basically like a drain that’s been blocked off,” says Rich Barrett, a naturopathic physician at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland. Mucus gets trapped inside and the cilia, tiny hairlike projections that sweep the membranes clear, can’t do their job. The congestion makes infection more likely to take hold, and when it does, the results can be wretched: postnasal drip, sore throat, cough, facial pain, and grinding headaches.