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A simple cure for chronic sinusitis
Does your nose always feel a little BLOCKED ?
It’s more a sensation, than a reality.
And this is what makes it so hard to cope with. When it is real, you have options that can and do bring relief.
Just blow it out
Unfortunately the relief is often short term, but the problem is also manageable, when the little critter(s) that opened up the flood gates are TAKEN CARE OF, the passages clear and breathing is easy.
When this doesn’t go according to plan, it’s more often than not, because the culprit wasn’t a bacteria. A high percentage of nasal cavity infections are caused by fungi, not bacteria. This matters when it comes to nasal cavity exterminations, because antibiotics DO NOT kill fungi. Unfortunately a course or two of “inappropriate” antibiotics has the potential to aggravate the problem.
But I digress…
This story is about the stuffy nose for no apparent reason that is driving you crazy. The official name for the problem is chronic sinusitis.
Your doctor will shrug his shoulders and possibly blame pollution.
In exceptional circumstances, a sinus surgery might be suggested. This can work wonders when there is something genuinely wrong with the anatomy of the sinusoidal cavities. But, when there isn’t……..the benefits of the procedure are not astounding.
The blocked nose curse
It’s one of those things, for the most part, you just learn to live with.
This problem of subjective nasal patency came on the radar of a group of European researchers. They had the bright idea, that the source of the problem was the nerve that services the nasal cavity and set about investigating.
The nerve in question is the trigeminal nerve (or cranial nerve 5).
This is an enormous nerve crisscrossing your face, it enables your face to FEEL and it helps you bite and chew. The middle bit, is especially involved in regulating the “feelings” of the nasal cavity.
And it’s this bit that the researchers suspect has lost it’s tingle.
The consequence of this, is the ability to perceive the nasal airstream had been compromised, creating the sensation of a “permanent block”.
Now this idea is not unprecedented…….
Maybe “Vicks Vapour Rub” or some other menthol loaded product is part of your standard “cold treatment regimen”. You know applying this to your nostrils can bring temporary relief. What you might not know, is studies have shown, NOTHING CHANGES in terms of how wide the nasal passage.
But it’s not a placebo effect, it is very real.
The trigeminal nerve servicing the cells lining the nose, has the ability to FEEL COLD, thanks to the presence of “cold” receptors. When it feels cold it ends up constricting the blood vessels. And skinny blood vessels allow the air to move on by.
The menthol is able to TRICK the “cold” receptors.
And in the moment, the nerve responds AS IF THE AIR was ICY COLD, bringing a moment or two of relief. Eish !
It’s only a moment.
If you keep triggering the nerve, it adjusts to the “cold” and loses interest, leaving the blood vessel “engorged” so doesn’t flow quite a freely.
And you end up with the sensation of a blocked nose 24/7.
A nerve with many talents
Now regulating air flow is very high on the agenda of this nerve, but it does have a secondary function, it responds to smells: good ones, bad ones and everything in between.
NOTE : This propensity helps us to navigate our environment, keeping us safe and HAPPY !
With this in mind, the researchers started experimenting…………
Reasoning that the “blocked noses” could be the result of lazy trigeminal nerves, they put these nerves on a rigorous training schedule. In the study they signed up a collection of noses, some troubled (35) and some healthy (30).
At the start of the study, all noses underwent a “fitness” assessment.
The nose fitness tests involved a carbon dioxide stimulus test, as well as a SPOT which nostril is being exposed to a smell.
Each nose then went home with three little glass bottles containing “smells”, the “smells” selected were all “smells” known to get trigeminal nerves ALL WORKED UP.
- Eugenol (a clove-like smell)
- Acetic acid (vinegar)
NOTE : The smell bottles had been created by soaking a cotton pad with the relevant liquid.
The nose gym
Once the noses got home, the training began in earnest. Participants were asked to open the bottles and smell the odors for 10s, four times every day (at 3-4 hour intervals), for 70 days.
At the end of the training period, the noses were invited back to the lab, for a second fitness assessment.
Nose fitness quantified
There were improvements to nose fitness in terms of carbon dioxide sensitivity across the board, but only in those noses that that had been diligently been put through their paces.
The training made no real difference in the lateralization test.
This was a bit of a surprise ! The researchers suspected, repeatedly requiring the nose to sniff this that and the other and pinpoint where it was coming from was tedious. And many noses lost interest.
Drug free relief from chronic sinusitis
It did relieve the BLOCKED NOSE feelings, a little.
Below are the results of the self rated nasal patency in patients and health controls – patients perceived an improvement.
Not a magic bullet
But truth be told, it didn’t work for everyone.
In terms of success compliance was a biggest swing factor. So was age was also an issue. Unfortunately olfactory function is one of the things that deteriorates with age, so older noses were less likely to show an improvement. Eish !
The other factor contributing to success was the origin of the problem.
In this study, the patients signed up for the study, had all sorts of reasons for knocking on the door of the ENT practice, including
- infection and
- congenital conditions
The trigeminal training only helped when the problem was a lazy trigeminal nerve. Makes sense ! But since this was the problem for quite a few people, it makes this a potentially very useful strategy to treat, chronic sinusitis.
Give it a try
If chronic sinusitis is negatively impacting your life – I think it’s worth giving odour training a try. It’s relatively easy to whip up a batch of “smell” bottles and then GET SNIFFING.
The cells lining the sinus cavity defend themselves through nitric oxide production. By humming – you can boost nitric oxide levels, shore-ing up the defences.
You’re suffering from sinusitis. AGAIN ! Your GP prescribes another course of antibiotics. But the cure maybe the problem……
There are warm scents and cool scents – the classification your brain uses, can impact how many calories you end up eating, in a scented eating environment