You probably don’t give much thought to your sinuses until they give you trouble. When you get that headache and pressure behind your eyes, it can make you miserable.
Your sinuses are hollow spaces behind your nose, cheeks, and forehead. They are lined with soft tissue and are coated with a thin layer of mucus that traps bacteria and keeps the tissues moist and healthy.
Antibodies, enzymes, and proteins in your mucus recognize bacteria and work to kill them. The sinuses need to remain clear to drain excess bacteria, mucus, and other invaders. If your drainage path gets blocked, you may experience sinus problems and infection.
Why Is Sinus Health Important?
Sometimes your sinuses become compromised, and mucus and toxins can build up. If you’ve ever experienced this, you can attest to how miserable it can make you feel.
Sinuses can also be damaged themselves, causing issues. Blocked or infected sinuses can lead to a variety of issues. Some complications involving the sinuses include: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Deviated septum
- Sinus allergies and sensitivities
- Sinus headaches
Common Root Causes for Sinus Issues
There are a variety of ways your sinuses can become blocked, irritated, or infected. Mold, other environmental toxins, and parasites can cause sinus problems that in turn could harm your entire system. In addition to irritating your sinuses, these unwanted critters and toxins can wreak havoc on your nervous system, organs, skin, and overall health. (7, 8)
Mold exposure can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including some affecting your sinuses. You may experience a runny nose, sneezing, chronic sinus infections, and similar issues. Outside of the sinuses, mold exposure can cause significant damage to the immune and nervous systems.
Mold exposure can hit you in two different ways. One, through dormant spores in the air, leading to mold allergies. Or two, through mycotoxins (toxins released from active growing mold), leading to mold toxicity. Both of these can trigger similar symptoms in the sinuses, but mold toxicity is a more serious level of exposure.
You can be exposed to mold in water-damaged buildings, either at work or at home. At times, you will be able to spot it growing in bathrooms, walls, window seals, etc. But it’s not always visible. That dusty smell coming from the attic or an old bathroom could be mold growing.
Inhaling these mold spores or mycotoxins can harm your mitochondria and hamper your immune system. This may show up in your sinuses as allergies, headaches, recurrent infections, and more. (9)
Other environmental toxins
Besides mold, other environmental toxins may cause blockage or infection in your sinuses. Inhaled environmental toxins can contribute to chronic sinus issues. Some common environmental toxins include air pollution, car emissions, pesticides, skin care products, and tobacco products.
You are exposed to air pollution and other toxins in the air each time you walk outside. Since there’s not much you can do about outdoor pollution, you can instead work to limit exposure to toxins in your home. Looking for natural alternatives to chemical-laden products is a great start. You can also keep your lawn pesticide-free, and use indoor HEPA filters. (10, 11)
Although you may have only heard about parasites in the context of international travel, parasites do not respect borders. Because they naturally exist all around us, you are likely to pick them up in your day-to-day life. Parasites can enter the body in a variety of ways. You can get parasites from contaminated animals, food, soil, water, and even from a bug bite. (12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
Parasites do all they can to stay in your nice, cozy body. These critters can use various tactics to evade and manipulate your immune system. Single-celled parasites can change the proteins on their surface, so your immune cells don’t recognize them. Some parasites alter their form — such as changing into a protective cyst to evade your immune system.
Parasites can also obstruct parts of your organs and disrupt their function. Some worms can block the valves between your intestines or clog your bile ducts. They will intentionally interfere with your digestive and immune systems to prevent your body from detoxing them naturally. (17, 18)
This all leads to a variety of symptoms, depending on the types of parasites and the amount in your body. But common symptoms include allergies, anemia, anxiety, body aches, chronic fatigue, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, skin rashes, and sleep issues. The list goes on and on. And parasites unfortunately don’t stick to one place — they can travel throughout the body, and even take over your sinuses. (19)
How Does Toxicity Manifest in Your Sinuses?
Mold, other environmental toxins, and parasites can all interfere with sinus health. If you experience any of the following conditions, toxicity is likely at the root. (20)
Often, the true source of allergies is toxicity. An accumulation of toxins can overwhelm your immune system and cause your body to overreact to stimuli like dander and pollen.
There are so many toxins from consumer products and the environment that it’s no wonder so many people suffer from allergies. Hundreds of thousands of toxic chemicals are released into the environment every day. Strengthening your immune system can help fight the effects environmental toxins have on your allergies.
Mold spores are also allergy triggers. Because mold impairs the immune system, living in an environment with mold can cause you to develop sudden allergies. These symptoms may include breathing difficulties, eye irritation, headaches, itching, rashes, and sneezing. If you think your home may have mold, contact a remediation specialist.
Parasites can also cause allergies and asthma symptoms. Studies show that people with parasites have a four times greater risk for developing allergies and asthma than others. Again, this may relate to how parasites hinder the digestive and immune systems. (21, 22)
Nasal congestion can have causes besides the common cold.
Toxic pollutants are inhaled through the nose. They accumulate on the mucus and are absorbed in the nasal cavity, causing excess mucus and nasal blockage. Irritation of the nose and sinuses from these pollutants can lead to congestion, inflammation, and infection. (23)
Mold and mycotoxins can cause an excess of mucus to form in the nasal cavities, causing congestion, coughing, shortness of breath, and sneezing. (24)
Parasites can cause airway obstruction and inflammation, leading to congestion. (25, 26)
Sometimes, the body produces more mucus or thicker mucus than usual. If that thick mucus runs down the back of your throat, that is known as post-nasal drip. Post-nasal drip can cause a sore throat, coughing, wheezing, and a constant need to clear your throat.
When your body cannot filter all of the toxins to which it’s exposed, mucus will accumulate in the sinuses and can lead to an annoying post-nasal drip.
Mold-triggered allergic reactions can cause a buildup of mucus, increasing the chances of you developing post-nasal drip. (27)
Parasites can also cause a variety of allergic reactions in the sinus cavities, post-nasal drip being one. When the body suspects an invader, it produces excessive mucus to try to eliminate the unwanted visitor. When that happens, the mucus has nowhere to go, so it begins to drip down the throat. (28, 29, 30)
What Can I Do to Limit My Exposure to Mold?
Mold can form in any moist environment. It is important to take measures to reduce or eliminate mold wherever possible. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure and eliminate mold from your environment. (31)
- Add mold inhibitors to paint when redecorating
- Avoid areas where mold is obvious and get a remediation specialist when necessary
- Clean countertops and other surfaces with bleach and water to prevent mold growth
- Do not carpet bathrooms and basements
- Do not overwater houseplants as mold can grow on the soil
- Keep humidity levels under 50% with air conditioning and dehumidifiers in your home
- Make sure all ventilation in the home is clean and in good working order
- Throw away any moldy items, such as books, carpets, clothing, and upholstery
What Can I Do to Limit My Exposure to Other Environmental Toxins?
Although it is virtually impossible to avoid all environmental toxins, you can take steps to limit your exposure. Here are some helpful hints that may help you reduce the toxin load, starting in your home. (32, 33)
- Avoid synthetic fragrances, which can irritate your allergies and sinuses
- Choose natural cleaning supplies that come from fruit extracts and oils
- Clean your home and its surfaces regularly
- Eliminate any mold that may be accumulating in your home; if you suspect mold growth in your home, look for mold professionals near you to perform an inspection
- Look for pure sources of water to avoid exposure to chemicals and radioactive elements
- Make sure your home is well-ventilated and your ducts are free of dust and mold
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of humidity and moisture in your home
- Use a shower filter to reduce the number of toxins and heavy metals coming through your water
What Can I Do to Limit My Exposure to Parasites?
Parasites can be tricky and sneak into your body while you’re doing seemingly harmless activities, like swimming or petting a dog. Here are some ways you can reduce your chances of getting parasites:
- Avoid raw food
- Avoid walking barefoot outside
- Bathe your pets regularly
- Cook food to its recommended temperature
- Drink clean filtered or bottled water, especially when traveling
- Eat healthy foods — such as grass-fed meats, nuts and seeds, and whole foods and vegetables — to clean your inner environment so parasites can’t thrive
- Stay away from unclean or polluted bodies of water
- Stay hydrated with fresh, clean water to keep your intestines moving
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water
Nasal Rinses: Neti Pot and Navage
Taking steps to avoid exposures can help your sinuses in the long haul. But to clear current sinus issues, nasal rinses and cleanses have proven effective. In fact, conditions such as chronic sinus infections, snoring, and other issues involving the sinuses have been successfully cleared using nasal rinses.
A neti pot or a Navage nasal rinse system with saline can help clear out debris and unblock sinuses. A Navage nasal rinse system will have the directions for use inside, as each system may differ. For a live Navage demonstration, go here.
If you prefer a neti pot over the Navage system, here are the steps for using a neti pot: (34, 35)
- Add the saline solution to a clean, dry neti pot
- Bend over the sink and look straight down at the sink basin
- Turn your head at a 45-degree angle
- Gently press the spout of the neti pot into the nostril closest to the ceiling
- Make sure you have a seal between the neti pot and your nostril (the neti pot shouldn’t touch your septum)
- Tip the neti pot so the saline solution reaches your nostril
- Keep the neti pot tipped while the solution runs through your nostril and leaves through your other nostril
- Continue to pour the solution into your nostril until the neti pot is empty
- Once you’ve used all of the solution, remove the neti pot from your nostril and bring your head up
- Breathe through both nostrils to clear out your nose
- Repeat the steps above to use the neti pot on your other nostril
Additional Ways to Support Sinus Health
There are several things you can do to clear your sinuses of excess mucus and debris. (36, 37)
- Drink lots of water to remain hydrated and help flush out your system
- Take hot showers or breathe in the steam from a pot of hot water (not hot enough to burn you)
- Use a nasal saline spray to help keep moisture in your sinuses and break up the mucus
- Take binders to remove mold, pesticides, and other toxins from the body and help with chronic sinus issues
- Try a parasite cleanse to target parasites throughout your body
- Support the liver and bile pathways to help clear the sinuses and the body of mold and other toxins, as well as strengthen the immune system
Environmental toxins, parasites, and other irritants can wreak havoc on your sinuses. By reducing the number of parasites, pollutants, and toxins in your home and body, you can help heal chronic sinus issues.
Making some changes to your home and what you put in and on your body can go a long way to help clean up your inner and outer environment.
What changes can you make today to improve your sinuses and your health?