Chronic Sinus Infections and the Gut
Have you ever wondered why you are experiencing chronic sinus infections? This question has come up more frequently lately, and the connection to the gut is ALWAYS an initial surprise to clients. Let's talk about a case study of client, Betty:
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Betty, 45yo female, presents with environmental allergies with chronic sinusitis
Betty was 45 and had dealt with environmental allergies as a child, which became chronic sinus issues throughout her adult life. The sinus infections started in college, perhaps shortly after taking multiple rounds of antibiotics for repeated UTI’s and maybe not eating as well (more pizza and beer than previous years living at home).
Now 20+ years later, the number of, and severity of her infections was worse than ever despite eating relatively “clean,” and reducing sugar and alcohol in her diet. She still took antibiotics multiple times a year because that is what her doctor recommended, and it seemed to be the only thing that worked. She figured this was just her life now. Fortunately, a friend explained that maybe she needed to “work on her gut,” and Betty ended up in my office. She had never really connected the dots that antibiotics and poor diet could have triggered a “perfect storm” of inflammation leading to her first of many sinus infections, but it made sense once I explained how the gut is the central hub of communication, which then affects all other areas of the body.
We did a stool test, and found that Betty had bacterial overgrowth in the gut (common result of repeat antibiotic use), inflammation, and suboptimal digestion. She also had low levels of beneficial bacteria and prebiotics.
Are you thinking, "Wow, I'm Betty"?
If Betty’s story sounds familiar, you’re not alone! So many clients come to see me not even thinking about asking for help with allergies or sinus issues! It may not seem connected to the gut, but it is-all of it! In seeking resolution of symptoms, it’s important to look for a root cause which often has at least partial contribution from imbalance in the intestinal bacteria that help digest food, support immunity, and help keep inflammation in check.
DIY options to support sinus (and gut) health:
In order to fix sinus infections, we have to start with the gut. There may be other facets, but gut health comes first in order to maximize the body’s nourishment and detoxification capabilities.
In the meantime, here are some DIY options to support (gut and) sinus health:
Consider an elimination diet, avoiding wheat/gluten and/or dairy.
These foods commonly irritate an already inflamed gut, which then triggers excess mucus production. Also consider corn is a common trigger due its potentially high mold content. It may be most helpful to eliminate all three, and then after 2-4 weeks slowly reintroducing one at a time to test for a reaction.
Rinse your nose, daily.
I like Xlear nasal spray because it contains Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that surprisingly also acts like a biofilm disruptor which means it cuts through stubborn, inflammation-causing bacterial slime. You can also use a more traditional method such as a Neti pot with a saline or herbal solution. Rinsing daily can keep nasal passages clear and calm.
Supplement for extra support.
Extra support can make a big difference if started early. Vitamin C is a great natural antihistamine, as well as stinging nettles and quercetin which can calm an overactive immune response. Olive Leaf has strong anti-viral properties and so can sometimes stave off a full-blown infection if used early.
Nourish the gut from the inside out.
Foods like homemade bone broth and fresh-pressed vegetable juice can provide concentrated gut-healing nutrients. A probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus species may also help mitigate sinus troubles. A specific strain, Lactobacillus caseii, has been shown to specifically reduce incidence of rhinitis and sinusitis.
If you read through this blog and were nodding your head and/or gasping in shock the whole way, just know you are not alone and you don't have to suffer through your sinus infections for the rest of your life.
For additional support, I invite you to book a free 15 minute Intro Call so we can see how the Carolina Functional Nutrition team can support you on your journey to being sinus infection free!
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