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If you suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever or sinusitis), it may be time to examine your lifestyle. The aggravating effects of alcohol and smoking on the respiratory system are well documented, as are those of stress, overwork and air pollution. Eliminating cigarettes and alcohol will immeasurably increase your body's ability to reduce its hyper response to allergens. Similarly, many studies have shown that food allergies play an important role in asthma and sinusitis. Elimination diets have been successful in treating food allergies.

Sinusitis is defined as an infection of the paranasal sinuses, typically secondary to obstruction of normal sinus outflow. Sinusitis occurs when there is an undrained collection of pus (a fluid product of inflammation) in one or more of the sinuses. Disorders that cause swelling of the membranes of the nose, such as allergic rhinitis or vital respiratory infections, are the most common cause, because the swelling prevents the fluid draining out of the sinuses normally. Occasionally swimming or immersion of the head in water may allow water and bacteria to enter the sinuses, causing irritation and infection. The fluid trapped in the sinuses may then become infected with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Dental infections such as a tooth abscess may spread into the sinuses and infect it directly. The pain of sinusitis results from the inflammation itself or from the pressure within the sinuses from the accumulation of undrained fluid.

Symptoms of sinusitis include severe headache (in the front of the head or around the eyes), facial pain around the eyes or in the forehead or cheeks, pain in the roof of the mouth or teeth, excessive nasal drainage, fever and chills, feel generally ill, occasionally facial swelling around the eyes, sore throat, earache, frequent nosebleeds, and breath odour.

The physiotherapist has certain options for therapy. Use can be made of nebulisation, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, short-wave diathermy, and rinoflow therapy, to mention but a few of the treatment modalities. Perhaps the present best known form of therapy is nebulisation. Use can be made of a compressor type or ultrasonic nebuliser. Physiological saline solutions are nebulised, which has a hydrating effect on the mucous in the sinus cavities. Nasal cannulae can be used, or in the case of an ultrasonic nebuliser, the rate of flow is set at 'high'. Laser (light amplified stimulated emission of radiation) therapy is used directly over the sinus cavities to reduce inflammation of the mucosal lining of the sinus. Alternatively, ultrasound therapy makes use of sound waves conducted through a hypoallergenic gel to reduce inflammation of the mucosal lining as well as to loosen the accumulated mucous. A fairly new option is called rinoflow therapy, which is basically a micronised endonasotracheal wash. Rinoflow is a specific compressor microniser chamber system used for the treatment of diseases of the upper respiratory tract where catarrh, mucous and purulent and crusty secretions are present. Besides use in treatment of sinusitis, it can be used to treat rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, chronic rhino-sinusitis, chronic purulent rhinitis, adenoidism and secretory otitis media. Physiological saline or medicated saline is used to hydrate the mucosal lining of the nasal cavities, rhino-pharynx and the paranasal sinuses, which assists with drainage of the sinus cavities. Excellent results are normally achieved in two to three treatments with the abovementioned physiotherapy techniques. Bear in mind, however, that results depend on the state of the sinusitis (i.e. acute or chronic), patient compliance (i.e. whether cutting down on smoking, attending treatment) and most importantly, early referral achieves quicker results which inevitably saves on medical costs.