Patient: Raghav Kumar
Weight: 90 kg
Symptoms: Pain in back of eyes/face, chronic headache, nasal congestion, fever, runny/stuffy nose
Raghav’s misery started three weeks ago when he felt a slight pain around his eyes and face. Caught up with his hectic work schedule he ignored the pain as a minor inconvenience. However, the pain intensified and was soon accompanied by a chronic headache that made concentration difficult. In addition, his nose was either completely stuffed up or running profusely. In spite of the acute discomfort, Raghav dismissed it as a heavy cold and did not seek any medical advice. It was only when he developed a fever that he decided to visit the doctor.
Raghav was diagnosed with sinusitis. The doctor explained that sinuses are interconnected cavities in the skull located in front of the eyes, behind the nose, cheekbones and forehead. They are usually empty and lined with a thin tissue known as mucosa. In Raghav’s case, the tissues were inflamed and filled with fluid. They had blocked his sinuses and allowed germs to grow leading to an infection. The doctor prescribed medication and warned Raghav that sinusitis attacks could recur.
Alarmed at the warning that the inflammation could reappear, Raghav decided to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner in Kerala. He had heard a lot about the skills and expertise of Ayurvedic practitioners in the State. Often described as the home of Ayurveda, Kerala attracts several patients who undergo successful treatment for various diseases.
Raghav’s Ayurveda doctor confirmed the diagnosis of sinusitis. He also explained the cause for the infection and suggested that a few modifications in lifestyle and diet can help prevent the recurrence of sinusitis.
Ayurveda’s Explanation for Sinusitis
Ayurveda explains the cause of sinusitis in terms of doshas and body imbalances. The root cause is a malfunctioning digestive system and the build up of ama (or toxic fluids) in the body. The ama can neither be used by the body nor expelled. It is therefore added to the phlegm. When the excessive phlegm overwhelms the body, it cannot be secreted out anymore and gets accumulated in the hollow sinus cavities, affecting the Kapha dosha. The blocking of the sinuses with phlegm affects the movement of air in the lungs and sinuses, thus creating an imbalance in the Vata dosha too. The restrictions and blockages affect the flow of energy or the body’s Pitta. Thus an acute case of sinusitis ends up unbalancing all the three doshas and hits the patient’s immunity. Germs, viruses, poor eating habits, stress and other factors can aggravate the imbalance worsening the patient’s condition.
How to Tackle Sinusitis
Diet: Diet is an important aspect of any Ayurvedic treatment regimen. In case of an attack of sinusitis, it is very important to avoid cold and heavy foods. Eat meals which include spices and vegetables like cumin, basil, garlic, onions, turmeric, ginger, fennel, cinnamon and cloves. These foods are warming in nature. Avoid all foods that may aggravate the Kapha imbalance. Milk, sugar, flour, egg-plant, banana, tomato, refrigerated products, junk food should be kept off the dining table. A good home remedy is to mix ginger powder and jaggery powder. Take half a teaspoon of the powder 3-4 times a day. Ayurvedic practitioners also stress that persons afflicted with sinusitis should eat only warm food.
Massage: Massage therapy is recommended to treat sinusitis, especially head and face massages. Medicated oils rich in herbs are massaged into the head. A face massage is important as in acute cases of sinusitis pain and the blockage can affect the entire structure of the face. The muscles, bones and nerves in the face are affected, leading to a structural imbalance. A facial massage can repair and soothe the muscles and nerves thus reducing the distortion. At first the marmas (or critical points) on the face are identified and massaged. Once the marmas are relaxed, a few drops of oil are massaged into the face using broad strokes.
Nasya: Nasya is the use of nasal drops to treat diseases that occur in the region between the head and the shoulder. Head, eye, throat, ear and nose can be kept healthy if nasya is undertaken at regular intervals. The procedure involves administering medicated oils or powders through the nostrils. Pradhamana nasya, where dry, medicated powders are blown into the nostril with a tube, is very effective for sinusitis. In case oils are prescribed, coconut oil or sesame oil (depending on the person’s constitution and the season) combined with calamur and ginger is introduced gently into the nostril.
Steam Inhalation: This is an extremely effective way of easing blockages in the sinus. Put a handful of tulsi leaves into a pot of just boiled water and inhale the fragrant vapours. Repeat 3-4 times a day for acute cases of sinusitis.
Tips to Keep Sinuses Unclogged
- Gentle exercises like a daily walk are essential to keep the digestive agni working properly.
- Stick to regular meal timings to prevent any digestive problems.
- Eat plenty of seasonal fruits.
- Pranayam and meditation reduces stress and prevents an aggravation of body imbalances.
- Have herbs and spices like asafoetida, ginger, black pepper, licorice and turmeric on a regular basis.
- Avoid exposure to elements like dust and pollution that irritate the sinus.
- Inhale aromatic oils like menthol, eucalyptus or lavender to keep the sinus passages clear.
Post treatment, Raghav has diligently followed the advice given to him by his Ayurveda doctor. Gentle exercise, warm foods and regular meals have become a part of his lifestyle. In addition, he does a quick nasya at home every day by gently applying prescribed aromatic oils on his nostrils. His sinusitis has disappeared and Raghav is hopeful that it will not recur.