Conventional doctors typically treat sinusitis with some combination of decongestants, nasal steroids, and antibiotics, with surgery as a last resort. But many people find that the drugs only temporarily relieve their symptoms–and no one’s particularly excited by the prospect of going under the knife. So more and more people are turning to complementary therapies, often with the approval of their mainstream physicians.
“Chronic sinusitis is a frustrating problem, and we in conventional medicine don’t have a perfect solution,” says John Krouse, director of rhinology and otolaryngological allergy at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. After performing sinus surgery for too many patients who didn’t get better, he started exploring complementary remedies. “You really need to design a program that combines aspects of traditional medicine with alternative treatments,” he says.
Some of the alternative approaches are thought to have antimicrobial aspects, but the physical act of opening the passageways works, too, by allowing the cilia to flush out mucus that harbors bacteria and other offenders like dust, pollen, and tobacco.
Be warned, though, that taking the less conventional route will keep you busy, and you’ll need to start using these natural therapies at the first sign of symptoms. “Chronic sinusitis demands a lot from a patient,” says Barrett. “But if you’re willing to hang in there and try lots of different things, you’ll get results.” You’ll certainly feel better, and eventually the infection itself should heal. Here’s what’s worth trying: