Drain your sinuses before it drains you

Drain Your Sinuses, Get rid of phlegm



We are all familiar with coughs and sneezes during the winter months. Is it just a flu? Or are you struggling with sinusitis and might not even be aware of it? This article will help you to get familiar with sinusitis and know how to treat it.

What Causes Sinusitis?

Some people tend to struggle with long term sinus problems without knowing what causes it and how it can be treated. Each year 10-15 million people develop sinusitis. Sinusitis, also called rhinosinusitis, is inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose. The sinuses are air filled spaces in the skull that are lined with mucus membranes. The tiny hair in the sinuses ensures that mucus gets dispelled. Viral, bacterial and fungal infections can block the sinuses and increases mucus production which results in sinusitis. Other causes can also include allergic reactions, structural abnormalities, dehydration and medication that dry out the mucus membranes in the nose.

The diagram is a representation of how a cold can lead to sinusitis.

What are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?

Sinusitis can either be acute or chronic where acute sinusitis lasts for a shorter time, normally less than four weeks. Chronic sinus infections are persistent for more than twelve weeks or tend to recur frequently.

Symptoms include:

  • Nasal Discharge

Nasal discharge comes from the infected sinuses resulting in frequent need to blow your nose. This discharge can be cloudy, green or yellow in colour (indicates infection) and can cause a postnasal drip. resulting in coughing at night.

  • Throat Irritation and Coughing

A postnasal drip can cause throat irritation, coughing, a sore throat and a hoarse voice.

  • Nasal Congestion

The nasal congestion can cause difficulty in breathing through your nose and might affect your taste and smell.

  • Facial Pain

Facial pain is caused by the inflammation and swelling as well as a dull pressure that might even lead to headaches. The table and picture below shows the different sinuses and the areas where the facial pain can occur.

Areas of sinuses

How Do You Treat Sinusitis?

Tips to help relieve sinusitis:

  • Add humidity to the air using a humidifier.
  • Sip hot liquids and drink plenty of fluid
  • Apply moist heat with warm towel against your face.
  • Don’t use nasal spray/ decongestant for more than 3 days.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Get plenty of rest. Lie on side that lets you breathe best.
  • Use Saline to flush your sinuses (Your physiotherapist will help you with the procedure).

Most important: Physiotherapy can help!!

Physiotherapy treat both acute and chronic sinusitis but might show faster and more effective results in relief of acute sinusitis. A course of at least four treatment sessions is recommended to achieve maximum effects. Physiotherapy aim to treat sinusitis in the early stages of inflammation, to facilitate drainage of mucous, reduce swelling and manage pain. Physiotherapy can also prevent you from being admitted to hospital.

How can Physiotherapy help???

  1. By thinning secretions– We use humidifying mist that consists of saline and a mucolytic prescribed by your doctor that will thin the secretions and ensure easier drainage of the fluids.
  2. Opening the sinuses and moving the secretions– We have electrotherapeutic modalities such as Laser and Ultrasound that encourages mucus clearance.
  3. Mobilization– By performing neck/head mobilization it helps to ‘open’ the sinuses.
  4. Dry needling– This aid in decreasing pain and swelling.
  5. Fascia Release – Fascia release in the face area has show great results in draining the sinuses. Your physio will do fascia release over the face and can also teach you some self treatment techniques that you can do at home.

Don’t delay make an appointment today to get rid of any sinus problems.

Book an Appointment

Last but not least: When to call your doctor??

Call your doctor if you have a fever and any sinusitis symptoms for 10 days or longer or when these symptoms keep recurring.

Written By: Ranien Swanepoel (BPhyst, OMT1)

Revised By: Adrien Dannhauser (BPhyst, SPT1)