Reader Questions

Healing yourself is connected with healing others.

~ Yoko Ono

The following are some questions readers of Sinus Allergy Care have submitted over the years. Hope you find them informative and useful. Please be aware that my responses to these inquiries are not meant as medical advice and certainly not meant to replace a need to consult with a medical professional. They are simply my opinions based on my own experience dealing with allergy and sinus problems over many years.

(Questions may be edited for length and clarity and names are withheld for privacy purposes.)

Using Neti Pot

Can I use a neti pot when I have nasal polyps and would it help to shrink the polyps?

A neti pot would help with clearing out the irritants and mucus in the nasal passages so breathing would be enhanced even if you have nasal polyps, which can severely restrict airflow. I am not certain how much saline rinsing assists in actually reducing the polyps, if any, at all. I would recommend proper medical examination to find out if surgery is necessary to remove blockages such as polyps. This was the case with my son who had only limited benefit with nasal rinsing prior to a surgical procedure. Using a neti pot would be much more effective after structural problems are resolved.

Allergy or Sinusitis?

I have headaches, painful throat, feel dizzy due to the pressure around my nose and eyes, burning eyes, and fatigue. I don’t sneeze but occasionally get the runny nose. Do I have allergy or sinusitis and what would work best for the condition?

It is challenging to make clearly assessment whether one has allergy or sinusitis. People who have allergies are more prone to have sinus infections than those who don’t. Allergy and sinusitis share common symptoms, such as facial pain, post-nasal drip, and nasal congestion. What may be the key difference is the color and consistency of the mucus. Sinusitis tend to produce yellowish, thick mucus where as allergy sufferers’ mucus is mostly clear and thin. It seems sinusitis’ symptoms are concentrated more in and around the head while allergic reaction could affect areas beyond it, such as itchy skin. In your case, based on your symptoms, I am inclined to think it may be combination of both sinusitis and allergy (of course, you should check with your medical doctor. I’m not making any diagnosis). I support a holistic approach to treating and healing allergy and sinus related conditions. That means we have to examine all aspects of our lives. Factors that include lifestyle, diet, stress, and environment all could contribute to the disease and trigger reactions. In other words, it’s crucial to address the root cause behind the surface symptoms. There are no quick, easy cures. Please visit Holistic Treatments, Home Remedies, How-to pages on this site to learn about natural, holistic treatment options and helpful techniques to relieve the discomfort.

Child Asthma

My 13 year-old daughter has a mild asthma. She isn’t in a band but after hearing that playing a flute can help her symptoms, she may join. Is this true?

Yes. The conscious breathing technique involved in playing a wind instrument has shown to be beneficial for asthmatics by teaching proper breathing and improving lung function. A Music Industries Association newsletter article noted that a recent research found significant improvement in the condition of children with asthma who learned to play wind instruments.


I’ve been trying to figure out what caused my sinus problems. I’m learning about how our mind can create illness in the body. What about emotional causes of sinusitis?

Our mind and body are essentially one. They are not separate parts but interconnected and interdependent. How we think and feel directly affects our physical body and vice versa. Just recall a time when you felt nervous or anxious. You had certain thoughts that produced those feelings. What happened to your body then? You likely experienced tension, rapid heart beating, sweaty palms, headache, dizziness, tight chest…you get the picture. Stress is a major factor in sinusitis as well as most of all illnesses. It is widely understood that often emotional stress is the primary cause of immune dysfunction. Certainly, other elements (diet, environment, etc.) contribute to sinusitis or allergies. But it is possible that emotional stress is the final trigger of these conditions. Therefore it is critical to learn effective ways to manage stress. We must be aware of our thoughts and feelings and how they influence our physical body. It’s good to remember that under the physical illness, there are emotional and mental triggers directly related to it.

Food Allergy

Wondering if what I eat or drink could make my nasal allergy worse. What should I avoid?

Try to stay away from spicy, starchy, fried, refined, and processed foods in general. It would be good to avoid foods that have additives (sulfites and sodium nitrite), artificial colors, and artificial sweeteners. These all pose health risks. Select foods that are low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber. Generally, fish, nuts, soybean, and wheat are essential part of healthy diet. But be aware that they are primary triggers of allergic reactions for many people. You can learn more about food allergy on this site.

Oil Pulling

Is oil pulling beneficial for sinusitis and/or sore throat? It just seems weird to do it but if it works I would like to try it.

Yes. There are many folks who have benefited from oil pulling to alleviate symptoms of sinusitis and sore throat. It is known to clear nasal congestion quickly, relieve headache, treat bleeding gums, just to name a few. Oil pulling works by causing enzymes to absorb toxins from our blood. Click on “Know More” on this site to learn more about this helpful healing method.

Nasal Blockage and Vocal Tension

Sometimes I have sinus and nasal blockages. I need to sing in my school musicals… can this cause vocal tension?

Yes, when the sinuses and nasal passages get congested with mucus and irritants, postnasal drip often occurs, which irritates the throat. Repeated need to clear the throat creates further raw tenderness and the quality of voice changes as well. My work involves extensive speaking and the excessive mucus in the throat diminishes my ability to speak comfortably and clearly. It would be wise to take steps to clear the blockages so there is better airflow and less mucus build-up. Also, try effective home remedies to soothe your throat and practice relaxation techniques to facilitate overall calmness of body and mind.

Distorted Taste and Smell

What can I do to restore my sense of taste and smell. Everything tastes and smells like garbage. Sinus surgery, drugs, acupuncture, anti-depressants, ENT exam at Mayo Clinic have not helped. Would hypnotherapy work?

Sorry to hear about the problem with your sense of smell and taste. Based on medical procedure and other treatments you received, it seems some kind of sinus problems and ENT related issues were present. I’m wondering whether the loss/distortion of these two senses which are closely connected occurred before any medical condition or afterward as an aftereffect. We know that sinusitis, allergies, and/or colds can affect these senses, particularly the smell. Also any head injury affecting the part of brain that controls these senses may be responsible. Not knowing details of your medical history, I can only speculate and speak generally.That said, I know that hypnotherapy is highly effective method many smokers use to quit and consequently, their sense of smell and taste returned or greatly improved. Although I’m talking about smoking cessation here, since hypnotherapy utilizes mind/body connection where all senses are actively engaged, I would think that hypnotherapy could prove to be worthwhile. But first, check with your medical doctor and seek out a professionally trained and licensed therapist in your area. Since hypnotherapists often specialize in certain areas, you may look into ones who deal with smoking cessation or allergies. Good wishes to you!

Dry Nose and Runny Mucus in My Throat

Not sure if the dry nose and runny mucus is rhinitis or acid reflux?

If you experience dry nose and a great amount of mucus in your throat, most likely you have rhinitis. One of the main symptoms of rhinitis is excessive post-nasal drip which occurs when mucus from the nasal passages and sinuses (see the picture on ‘Sinusitis’ page) drains into the throat. Acid reflux is when the acids from your stomach flow back into the back of your throat and cause the painful discomfort commonly known as heartburn and create a bitter, acidic taste in your mouth. Other symptoms include hoarseness, regurgitation, and chest pain.

Sinusitis and Fatigue

Can severe sinus problems make you exhausted? I experience frequent fatigue and it’s affecting my work and life in general.

Definitely yes. Most, if not all, people who have sinus problems experience extreme fatigue, which tends to be ongoing and does not provide relief even though you have had enough sleep. There is a clear drop in the energy level. Sinusitis is a systemic illness meaning it affects the whole body. So you feel sick all over. When sinusitis is properly and aggressively treated, you will regain energy and feel less exhausted over time.

Bloody Nose

During allergy seasons, I tend to get bloody nose with some facial pain. Could this be a sign of sinus problems?

There can be many, various causes of a nosebleed. That said, bloody nose can be directly related to sinus and allergy problems. Reasons may be an infection, nasal dryness, presence of nasal polyps, and allergies. Often the blood stops once it starts to clot but when bleeding is severe, avoid blowing your nose and seek medical attention.

Clearing Nasal Congestion

Stuffed up nose kills me. Can’t breathe well and can’t get good night’s sleep. What is the quickest way to clear up nasal congestion?

The quickest and safest way to alleviate nasal congestion, in my opinion, is to use a neti pot to flush out mucus, bacteria, dust, and others things clogging your nasal passages. You will feel immediate relief with easy breathing. Perform the nasal rinsing 3-4 times a day when the congestion is severe. You can reduce it to twice a day (morning and evening) later. You can also try oil pulling (found on “how-to” page on this site) and steam inhalation via hot shower or pot of boiling water over stove.

Sinusitis and Chinese Suction Cup

I heard that Chinese suction cup method can help sinusitis. How?

The technique is called “cupping” and it’s used along with acupuncture needles when treating sinusitis or related allergy problems. The suction cups are often used to the acu-points on the back to promote stronger stimulation while the needles are applied to more delicate areas such as face, ears, and hands. The ultimate purpose for using both tools is to boost the body’s natural defense system to fight against triggers that aggravate sinusitis while supporting immune and respiratory systems to reduce the symptoms.

Relieving Sinus Pressure

I often have awful pressure in my head. How can I relieve sinus pressure holistically?

One of the most effective and quickest way to alleviate sinus pressure is to work on acupressure points on your face and hand. Also, relieve congestion, which contributes to painful pressure, in your sinuses and nose by using a neti pot to flush out irritants. Breathing in hot steam over boiling water or putting a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel over your sinus areas is very helpful as well (be cautious not to burn your skin). Learn more about treating sinus pressure on this site by visiting Home Remedies I.

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