The condition wherein the sinuses and nose are inflamed is known as sinusitis. Acute sinusitis is the manifestation of the same condition that has been lingering for 3 months or less characterized by symptoms such as loss or reduced sense of smell, facial pressure or pain, discharge (nasal drip) and congestion (blockage). Additional symptoms may involve fever, malaise, swelling, tenderness and toothache (affecting the upper teeth).  Sinusitis is considered a chronic condition if it endures for more than three months and is likewise associated with the aforementioned symptoms.

Bacterial or viral infections often are the cause of acute sinusitis. Conditions that can increase the susceptibility of a person to sinusitis include mechanical problems like a deviated septum, dental infections, diabetes mellitus, smoking, allergic rhinitis and upper respiratory infections. Complications that can result from sinusitis include meningitis, frontal bone infection, and infection surrounding the eye that can result in blindness.  Signs and symptoms of those potentially dangerous complications include indications of meningitis, extreme frontal headache, impaired vision, double vision, displacement of the eye, reddening of the eye, and swelling of the eyes or lids. Chronic or long-term sinusitis is atypical and often comes about due to acute sinusitis or impaired drainage of the problematic sinus, inflammatory alterations to the lining of the sinus due to infection, and occasional flare-ups of infection caused by these alterations.  There may be other causes or contributory factors for the rise of sinusitis. A stubborn allergy, for example, that inflames the sinus causing it to swell or obstruct the drainage pathway can lead to sinusitis.

The conventional way of controlling sinusitis involves the use of analgesics such as ibuprofen or paracetamol for pain relief that may come with codeine if needed.  Saline nasal solution or steam inhalation can also be utilized. Antibacterial treatment is justified only for sinusitis sufferers who are severely affected and manifest signs and symptoms or who are highly susceptible of developing severe complications.

Acupuncture Can Help Treat Sinusitis

Results from randomized controlled studies show how acupuncture can be effective in treating sinusitis symptoms like nasal congestion. Unfortunately, very few studies have been done demonstrating the ability of acupuncture to treat sinusitis. More randomized high-quality controlled research are required to test the efficacy of acupuncture in resolving sinusitis

Acupuncture can allay the congestion and pain in people with sinusitis by:

Improving local microcirculation that helps reduce the swelling
Boosting the activities of natural killer cells as well as regulating the ratio and number of immune cell types
Treating inflammation through the stimulation of immunomodulatory and vascular and factors
Activating nerves connected to tissues and muscles. This causes the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters and alters pain processing in the spinal cord and the brain
Boosting endorphins that aid in neutralizing negative affective states

Acupuncture is widely believed to stimulate the nervous system. This stimulates the release of neurotransmitters causing biochemical changes that positively affects the body’s homeostatic mechanisms. This then leads to emotional and physical well-being.  The activation of specific acupuncture points affects certain parts of the brain that are believed to lessen sensitivity to stress and pain.

Dominic Sembello is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist and the clinical director of Health Source Acupuncture in Linwood, NJ.