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  • Alexis Hileman L.Ac.

Can Acupuncture Cure Sinus Problems?

Updated: Mar 21, 2019


Acupuncture for Allergic Rhinitis & Chronic Sinusitis


Allergic Rhinitis – This is commonly referred to as hay fever. It is caused by environmental allergens or irritants. This could be something outdoors like grass, trees, pollen, and mold, or something indoors like animal dander, mold, certain food or medicines, industrial chemicals, and dust mites. Many people today suffer from a multitude of these elements. The inhalation of an allergen causes the body’s immune system to react. The body releases antibodies that attach to mast cells (responsible for releasing histamine), causing the release of multiple chemicals. These chemicals cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, postnasal drainage, nasal itching, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

Allergic rhinitis and sinusitis are often linked, because allergic rhinitis causes your nose to become blocked, which can then block the sinuses and cause sinusitis. In fact, sinusitis rarely occurs without concurrent rhinitis. ~ avenueacu.com

Chronic Sinusitis – This is classified as an inflammation of the sinus lining that is either acute or chronic. Sinusitis is caused by nasal polyps, a deviated septum, respiratory tract infections, or as a complication of another medical condition (immune system related diseases such as cystic fibrosis, gastroesophageal reflux, or HIV). It can also be caused by allergic rhinitis. Many of the symptoms of chronic sinusitis are similar to allergic rhinitis, and may also include headaches, yellow discharge, ear pain/pressure/fullness.


Allergic rhinitis and sinusitis are often linked, because allergic rhinitis causes your nose to become blocked, which can then block the sinuses and cause sinusitis. In fact, sinusitis rarely occurs without concurrent rhinitis.


Sinusitis Symptoms


Sinusitis symptoms can vary by the individual and can vary in intensity from day to day or week to week. Common symptoms may include:

  • Nasal congestion.

  • Sinus headaches or pressure.

  • Overall sinus pain.

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose.

  • Thick or watery mucous that may be yellow or green in color.

  • Fever may be present in a sinus infection.

  • Secondary to the main symptoms may be a decrease in energy levels and difficulty sleeping.


Why Acupuncture?


Once you've determined the root of your allergic rhinitis or chronic sinusitis, an acupuncture treatment will aim to correct the flow of energy in the body to target the underlying cause. This ancient approach can work to relieve nasal symptoms and also prevent them from returning. The first thing you'll notice about acupuncture as an immediate effect is the opening of the nose, reducing congestion and relieving pain or pressure in the sinuses. In many cases, people notice a significant reduction right away.


Some recent research has shown that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of rhinitis and may be even more beneficial than antihistamines (more research is needed though). Another study from 2005 compared standard Western medications for chronic sinusitis (anti-histamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, and saline rinse) with TCM acupuncture treatments. This study found that the difference in symptoms after 4 and 12 weeks was almost the same between these two groups, showing that acupuncture can be just as effective in the treatment of chronic sinusitis as the standard prescribed medications.


Acupuncture is also effective for other forms of chronic nasal obstruction, which was shown in a 2009 study on patients with hypertrophic inferior turbinates and chronic sinusitis. Compared with a control group, patients receiving traditional acupuncture  experienced significant improvement on a visual analogue scale and in nasal airflow both after treatments and over time.


Suffer No More


Acupuncture treatments can be so effective that you may notice your congestion lessening during your treatment, which is a wonderful experience. Acupuncture has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects on the body, helping to reduce the inflammation in the sinus cavities and decrease pain levels. Acupuncture also naturally helps with the movement of fluids inside the body, and can assist in the breakdown of congested mucous.


Chinese herbal medicine is an addition to your treatment regimen for sinus congestion and infections that you may want to consider. There are many Chinese herbs with anti-bacterial or anti-viral properties, allowing for the treatment of both causes of infection (bacteria or virus). If needed, an individualized formula will be made for your specific needs. You'll want to begin with a Chinese Herbal Consultation.


What to expect

When visiting Balanced Being Alternative Health for the first time, you can expect a process that is designed to understand why you are here and to recommend treatments that make sense. During your first visit we will have a private consultation where we will discuss your current health concerns as well as your pertinent health history. This gives you the opportunity to express any concerns or questions you may have. There is a thorough traditional diagnosis, which consists of looking at the tongue, taking your pulse, and asking specific questions to get to the root of your current imbalance.


During this consultation, you may be asked about elements of your life that you might not have considered to be related to your main complaint. For example, sleeping habits and patterns, your emotional situation, your diet and eating habits, and other lifestyle matters. In Chinese medicine your practitioner assesses the whole person - not only the symptoms or one specific symptom. Learn more HERE.


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