5 Top Causes of Sinusitis and Sinusitis Treatment

Are your sinus problems coming from your gut?

If you’ve ever had chronic sinusitis, you know that it may be hard to get rid of. You may have tried over the counter medicine. Or you may have seen your doctor and been prescribed antibiotics - even multiple doses of antibiotics - only to find that you may still have the problem. Why?

Antibiotics are often prescribed because sinusitis is frequently treated as a bacterial infection even though most chronic sinusitis is not caused by bacteria. While bacteria may be the cause in some cases, antibiotics are not the answer when the sinus problem is more often viral or fungal. 

Treating sinusitis with antibiotics may only make the problem worse. This is because both the body’s good and harmful bacteria get wiped out. In essence the antibiotics create a fertile environment for a fungal infection, such as yeast or candida overgrowth, that probiotics alone will not fix. 

At the Digestion Relief Center located in Chico, California, we look at Sinusitis differently. In simplest terms, Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinus. It can be caused by our immune system’s response to bacteria, viruses, fungus and reactions to toxins and allergens, or what we call the “Snotty 5”. 

To understand how the Snotty 5 creates sinusitis, it helps to understand the relationship between our sinuses, our immune system and our gut.

The Role of the Sinuses 

Causes of Sinusitis

The sinuses consist of 8 air filled cavities in the forehead, cheeks, and nose lined by mucous membranes. The sinuses filter and regulate the temperature and humidity of the air we breathe. On a cold, dry day for example, your sinuses warm and moisten the air entering your throat.

The sinuses’ mucous membranes provide an immune barrier to prevent infection. When we have an infection or inflammation, specialized white blood cells known as “mast” cells, trigger a histamine reaction that releases extra mucous in an attempt to sweep out and destroy the invaders. These mucus membranes are lined with histamine that release mast cells, which go to work to protect us from bacteria, viruses, fungus, toxins and allergens.

Think of mucus as a protective gel-like coating. This mucus can become inflamed when any one or more of the Snotty 5 exceed our body’s capacity to expel the harmful substances. For example, blowing our nose is a direct way to try to clear out harmful substances from the sinuses. 

The Role of the Gut in Sinusitis

Just like our sinuses, our intestinal tract is lined with mucous membranes that act as a barrier to infection. And just like your sinuses, the mucus lining of your intestine can become inflamed. Again, like our sinuses, our intestinal mucus membranes are lined with histamine releasing mast cells that protect us from the every day bacteria, viruses, fungus, toxins and allergens. 

The Sinus and Gut Connection 

Note that our intestines and sinuses have some similar infection fighting responsibilities. That’s because there is a direct anatomical connection between the sinuses and the gut that is often overlooked. When an embryo develops, the gut and the sinuses are formed at the same time. Chinese physicians recognized this connection between the sinus and the gut thousands of years ago. They identified that the stomach meridian ends over the maxillary sinus (located in our cheeks just under the eyes).

The Role of the Immune System in Sinusitis 

Most of us know the immune system’s role is designed to protect us. You may have heard that 70% of our immune system surrounds our gut. It’s no accident that our gut has the highest concentration of immune tissues in the body. Immune tissues and cells line the gut for the purpose of blocking harmful bacteria, viruses, fungus, toxins and allergens from entering the blood stream.

Basically, the same Snotty 5 that cause inflammation of the sinuses cause inflammation of the gut and immune system. In essence, when one or more of the Snotty 5 inflames the gut and the immune system, our sinuses become the overflow valve. 

The connection is so strong that we view sinusitis as a symptom of gut inflammation. Because both the gut and the sinuses are major parts of the immune system, treating only the sinuses without consideration of the other is an incomplete and ineffective approach to treating chronic sinusitis.

Food allergies and Sinusitis causes

How Do Food Allergies Relate to Sinusitis? 

Have you ever noticed how your nose starts to drip or get stuffy after eating a certain food? Why? How are food allergies and a runny nose connected?

You may have a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to the food, which promotes inflammation of the sinuses and gut concurrently (because of the anatomical connection described above). 

If you are unable to digest the food you are eating, the undigested food feeds the bacteria and yeast in your gut. Excessive amounts of bacteria and yeast create toxins that inflame the gut. When this occurs, particles of undigested food leak into blood stream, and in the lymphatic tissues surrounding the gut. A steady stream of foreign particles entering our blood and lymphatic tissues promotes a systemic inflammatory reaction and potential toxic overload that affects the entire body, including the sinuses.

For example, some people have “agglutination” reactions to certain foods. Agglutination reactions basically gum up the works, allowing glue-like sticky residues to form, promoting inflammation in the gut and sinuses.

Two common agglutinating foods are wheat and milk, (Agglutination is different from a lactose intolerance). Some people don't process milk properly, and a smaller group does not process wheat. We suggest that you stop dairy for 2 weeks or wheat for 2 weeks to see if your sinus symptoms improve. However, that may only be part of the picture because of the sinuses interconnections with our intestinal and immune systems. Call our office in Chico, California for more information.

How We Can Help 

Because sinusitis could be caused by more than just a bacterial infection, improving sinusitis requires a more holistic approach. A better approach addresses all five factors that may be causing your sinusitis - bacterial, viral, or fungal infections and reactions to toxins and allergens. 

The key to eliminating recurring chronic sinusitis lies in reducing inflammatory causes and reducing the body’s immune system stress. Since our gut plays such a major role in the development of systemic inflammation, healing the gut must be considered as a primary factor in providing relief for chronic sinusitis.

If you suffer from a stuffy nose or chronic sinus problems, find how we can help you breathe easier. Call our Chico office at the Digestion Relief Center (530) 899-8741 to set up a consultation with Dr. Patrick. 

Since 1999, Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC has helped patients from Chico, Redding, the Sacramento Valley, and across the United States by using a whole-body systems approach to health. He specializes in providing natural relief for food and environmental sensitivities, intolerances and digestive problems. For more information contact Dr. Patrick at 530-899-8741 or visit www.DigestionReliefCenter.com 

© 2017. Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS. All Rights Reserved

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First Published in the Lotus Guide for Healthy Living Issue #62, Spring 2017

Digestion Relief Center 

2639 Forest Avenue, Suite 120 Chico, CA 95928


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