Hi, and welcome to “ask the boogor doctor,” at boogordoctor.com. Please read my recent note on my gratitude for my readers, and my wish for your Successful and Healthy New Year! The majority of people who visit me here have children who are struggling with sinusitis or asthma. I receive many emails asking for information that is in articles on this site. So to be more helpful to my readers, I thought that it might be time to provide an update, with links to some of those articles. As you know, I focus on children with respiratory ailments, including childhood asthma and pediatric sinusitis. Here is an update to answer these questions:
- What are the sinuses?
- What is sinusitis?
- Who is at risk for sinusitis?
- What are the complications of sinusitis?
- How do I “read” a Sinus CT Scan?
- What are the alternatives to more antibiotics?
- How can we avoid surgery for our child with chronic sinusitis?
- How can we detoxify our home?
- How can we clean the air in our home?
- If surgery is necessary, what is the best?
- And much, much more
Sinusitis: Why Do We Care?
Sinusitis is increasingly common. And it’s a huge financial burden: between lost productivity from adults who have sinusitis, to lost hours on the job by parents caring for children with sinusitis, and all of the medications and lab testing, sinusitis costs us about 6 Billion dollars every year in the US!
As parents, we care because some of the complications of sinusitis can be very serious (more below). And we want out kids to be healthy, and safe.
What is Sinusitis?
Technically speaking, Sinusitis is inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses. Practically speaking, sinusitis is infection of these paranasal sinuses. Often a bacterial infection will occur following a viral upper respiratory infection (URI) or “common cold.” The swelling of the lining of the nose, causing the small openings to the sinuses to close off, provides a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and multiply.
Chronic sinusitis is one of the most disabling ailments: some studies suggest that chronic sinusitis has an even more-negative impact on quality of life measurements than other common cronic diseases that we think of as very disabling: like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or heart disease. Here is my article that reviews Sinusitis in Children.
Just exactly what are the “sinuses,” anyway?
You are not born with fully-developed paranasal sinuses. Your sinuses develop over time. And the several pairs of sinuses grow at different rates. Here are the articles that review the anatomy and histology of the nose and sinuses, and development of the sinuses in children. For those of you who don’t want to wade through a long article on anatomy and histology, here are the ”cliff” notes on sinus anatomy.
Why is Sinusitis Associated with Allergies and Asthma?
Children who are susceptible to getting sinusitis seem to also be those same kids who have asthma, and possibly allergies, and possibly recurrent ear infections, and possibly bronchitis, etc. This is due to something called the Unified Airway. This theory explains why the lining of our respiratory systems shares similar triggers, whether it’s the lining of our sinus or the lining of the middle ear or the bronchi of the lungs. Here is a review that explains the Unified Airway Theory in plain English.
The Truth About Sinus Headaches
In my clinical practice, the majority of children who were sent to me over the years because they had “sinus headaches” did not have sinusitis! Here is an article on the myth of sinus headaches, and what the national studies tell us is the real cause of those “sinus heaches.”
Complications of Sinusitis in Children
There are a variety of potential complications that can develop from sinusitis in children. Fortunately, most of the life-threatening complications are very rare in this day of antibiotics, advanced surgical and intensive hospital care. However, we do still see some of these complications of sinusitis, including some that are potentially lethal.
Again fortunately, the majority of sinusitis can be managed with avoiding surgery. There are several populations of children who are at increased risk for complications. These children must be monitored closely when they “catch a cold” so that early signs of evolving sinusitis can be more aggressively tackled. Here is an article on the risk of sinusitis complications in high risk children, and another article on the “Ciliopathies,” also known as dysmotile cilia syndrome, or primary ciliary dyskinesia (download FREE pdf). Also see the blog post on cilia function.
Amazingly, the way to prevent most of these complications is easy, and nothing to do with antibiotics! Read about the best, simple cure in this article about a 3-year-old boy who was hospitalized for severe sinusitis.
Your eBook provides excellent value for my money! The book provides easy steps to cleanse your LIFE of harmful chemicals that are known culprits to modern diseases. While these chemicals (and persticides) were meant to make our lives “easier” they have done nothing but pollute our bodies and our earth. Our lives will be so much healthier if only every one of us follows these simple steps you have mentioned – instead of buying a plastic bottle of expensive “tap water” I would recommend buying your ebook :)
Saba, Scottsdale, AZ
Why is Sinusitis Increasing?
I can only speculate, but it seems pretty clear to me: there are increasing pollutants in our lives. Pretty simple fact: there are more than 2,000 chemicals that can be measure in your blood today, that did not even exist when your grand-parents were children. They’re all synthesized, “man-made” chemicals. And they don’t belong in your body. None of them are good for you. They are toxic pollutants.
What is the effect of these pollutants on the lining of the nose and sinuses? Here is my article about the human pollution experiment.
What to DO About Sinusitis?
Perhaps your pediatrician has told you that your little boogor-head has sinusitis. Perhaps your child with asthma keeps getting sinusitis that triggers their asthma. Whatever the reason, you’re dealing with sinusitis now.
First order of business: Teach Your Child to Blow Their Nose!! You parents out there recognize that this is not necessarily an easy task. My friend, Dr. Hana, gives us some easy tips in that article. Thanks, Dr. H!
All the information above is just background. Now we’re getting into the useful stuff (like those two eBooks).
The first bits of information that you should be armed with when entering the medical “corporation” with your child with sinusitis are:
- How to “Read” a Sinus CT Scan
- What to Expect (and how to prepare your child) for Your Child’s CT Sinus Scan
Next, understand that chronic sinusitis is different from acute sinusitis. Once your child experiences several bouts of sinusitis, there is a likelihood that the bacteria that are causing it are never really going completely away. They simply stop growing and dividing, and wait for the course of antibiotics to wash away, and then they start again.
You may be familiar with this phenomenon, whether it’s ear infections, sinus infections, or whatever: your child gets better while they are on the antibiotics, but the problem is back only two weeks after they complete their antibiotics. Sometimes even sooner!
This is most often the result of bacteria that form a biofilm. And it can be very difficult to eliminate. Here is an article on Biofilm and Chronic Sinusitis. Because I personally struggled with my own chronic rhino-sinusitis (CRS) for decades, and because I managed these children in my Rhinitis/Asthma/Sinusitis Center, I am very familiar with how to get rid of chronic sinusitis caused by biofilm.
Know that my approach is to use Integrative Medicine: that is, any remedy that has evidence to back it up; evidence from randomized, controlled clinical trials. There are some good studies in the area of complementary and alternative health for children, now that NIH has been funding better research studies. Let’s start with the 8 Basic Principles to Control Your Child’s Sinusitis (download free pdf). That’s the place to start for managing your child’s sinusitis. Then consider this 5-Step Program to Eliminate Chronic Sinusitis. You may not be able to do every step for your child, but do what you can.
If you are struggling with a child who has asthma or chronic sinusitis – or, commonly, both – you should be aware that reflux (GER) is a common factor in these respiratory ailments. Another common cause of allergies, asthma, and sinusitis in children is dust mites. Dust mites are ubiquitous; they are in every human home! Here are 12 Steps to Reduce Dust Mites in your home.
Control those allergies:
Finally, here is the main-stay of “curing” chronic sinusitis – for children and adults: Nasal Saline Rinses.
Here are the links to the 4-Part Series on The Benefits of Nasal Saline Rinses:
- Nasal Saline Rinses: What Good Are They? The Concept
- Nasal Saline Rinses: What Good Are They? The Medical Evidence
- Nasal Saline Rinses: What Good Are They? How to Do It
- Nasal Saline Rinses: What Good Are They? How to Make Your Own
Now, you may have heard some scary news articles about a year ago on “Brain-Eating Amoeba” from people doing saline nasal rinses. Because I use saline nasal rinses every day of my life (to prevent my CRS from returning), I was understandably concerned.
So I called up an expert on Amoeba, Dr. Robert Tolan, and asked his expert opinion. It was a pretty interesting conversation, because he told me that his wife struggles with sinusitis, and that she does nasal saline rinses. Here is my report on my Conversation with Dr. Tolan Regarding “Brain-Eating Amoeba.” Bottom line: you must use either boiled water, or distilled water from the store, especially if you live in the Southern United States, where amoeba are endemic in the water supply!!!
More Natural Tools for Combating Chronic Sinusitis
Because I struggled with my own chronic sinusitis for so many years, I diligently read every new research study that was published. And, when the remedies were backed by good, solid evidence (randomized, controlled, double-blind trials), I added those tools to my toolkit to fight sinusitis.
Here are a couple things that you might consider in your own fight against sinusitis:
Not all honey is created equal with regard to the antimicrobial strength. Here is a recent update on the best: The Benefits of Manuka Honey Keep Growing.
Quercetin: Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine compound that occurs naturally in various fruits and vegetables. Just one more reason to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Consider adding quercetin as a supplement if you struggle with asthma, allergies, or sinusitis. Read this article on Quercetin for Asthma, Rhinitis, and Sinusitis for details. Here is the Amazon affiliate link for the quercetin that I use (it’s the Orthomolecular “D-Hist” product. Note that we use the “Dehist-Jr” for our kids).
Xylitol: Like honey, Xylitol is powerful antimicrobial that occurs in nature. For treating chronic sinusitis, it often helps to have nasal saline rinse solution that is stronger than physiological concentration – “hyperosmotic.” The problem is that making it stronger concentration by just adding more salt to the solution also makes it burn. Here are a couple Amazon affiliate links for Xylitol products:
The other way to make the saline higher osmolarity is to add something that is not a salt: honey or sugar come to mind. Honey is okay, because it has innate anti-bacterial properties. Normal table sugar, though, invites bacterial growth. That’s where the Xylitol comes in. Read this article on the Benefits of Xylitol. Thanks to my friend, Dr. Lon Jones, Xylitol is easy to get these days. Be sure to check out his company, Xlear, for some of those great products (no financial relationship; just good products).
Two Valuable Resources for Parents: I want to give a shout-out to a couple of awesome resources for parents; a couple of folks who happen to be dear friends (for transparency: I have no financial relationship with them).
When Surgery Becomes Absolutely Necessary
Finally, what to do when you’ve tried EVERYTHING else for your child? What to do then?
- When Your Child Absolutely MUST Have Sinus Surgery: Part 1
- Part 2: Minimally-Invasive Sinus Surgery (Balloon Sinuplasty)
I hope that answers some questions about sinusitis: I hope it’s enough, and not too much.
Thanks for visiting, and see you here next time. Until then, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor ;~D)
Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog. That wonderful photo of me is by Chris Stranad; here is his site: http://www.chrisstranadphotography.com/Index.html
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