The Hidden Cause of Sinus Infections & How To Destroy It

Found in 96% of Mayo Study Participants
By Dr. Joseph Mercola and Rachael Droege

About 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal sinuses commonly known as a sinus infection, each year and for many this is a chronic problem that can seriously affect the quality of your life. Most cases of sinusitis are treated with antibiotics, which may help to cover up symptoms in the short-term but are a disaster when used in the long-term.

Sinusitis can be acute or chronic, and can last for months or years if not addressed. Symptoms of sinus infection include:

● Runny nose
● Nasal congestion
● Thick, colored nasal drainage
● Cough
● Head congestion
● Headache
● Post-nasal drip
● Facial pain or swelling
● Toothache
● Fatigue
● Diminished sense of smell and taste
● Fever

And despite constant treatment with antibiotics, many people’s sinusitis continues to return. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, not only is sinusitis one of the most expensive disorders in the United States, but also its prevalence is on the rise, indicating that the common treatment methods are not getting to the root of the problem.

So what is the root of the problem? Researchers have found that most cases of chronic sinusitis are not caused by infection but are actually an immune disorder caused by fungus. In a 1999 study, the researchers discovered that fungal organisms were present in the mucus of 96 percent of patients who had surgery for chronic sinusitis, and inflammatory cells were clumped around the fungi, which meant the condition was an immune disorder caused by fungus.

Fungus and mold spores are in the air all the time and are commonly inhaled so most people have fungi lodged in the mucus lining of the sinuses. However, only people who are prone to chronic sinusitis will experience an immune response to the fungi that results in the symptoms of sinusitis.

They took the research a bit further and in the next study found that a fungicide was effective in decreasing inflammation and nasal swelling among participants suffering from chronic sinusitis. The researchers are hoping the study will lead to the development of new antifungal medications to treat the condition.

Although antifungals may be more effective than antibiotics–antibiotics make fungal infections worse–there are other steps you can take to lessen your risk of sinus infections by getting at the underlying cause.

Make Your Body Less Hospitable to Fungus

As the body attempts to destroy the fungus, the immune system damages the sinus membranes, which causes the symptoms of sinusitis, the researchers say. To combat the fungus and prevent the immune system reaction, you’ll need to create an environment that makes it more difficult for fungus to thrive. Here are the top natural cures for sinus infection:

Avoid Eating Sugar or Grains

Fungus feeds on sugar and grains (which break down to sugar in your body), so reducing or eliminating these foods is necessary to keep fungus under control.

Consume Fish or Cod Liver Oil

Consume a high quality cod liver oil or fish oil every day. The high order omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA are essential to maintaining and improving your immune system. Don’t get fooled by taking any general omega-3 supplement. The ALA in flax seed oil won’t give you the same benefits. Not only will cod liver oil or fish oil improve your sinus infection, but they will also improve your health and brain and reduce your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Eat Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. However, be careful with which oil you choose, as many coconut oils contain fungal toxins. This is because they are commonly made with copras, or dried coconuts, which are often contaminated with mycotoxins. So in order to fully enjoy the benefits of this coconut oil, you will want to be sure that you find a company that uses only fresh coconuts to make their oil, like the Tropical Traditions virgin coconut oil on this site.

Avoid Eating Mycotoxic Foods that are contaminated with mycotoxins (fungal toxins).

How Temperature and Humidity Can Make You Feel “Stuffed Up”

Rhinitis is the medical term for “stuffy nose.” Vasomotor rhinitis is a non-allergic condition, characterized by chronic runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. Changes in temperature and humidity have already been identified as a potential triggers. (Other triggers include strong odors, perfumes, smoke, fumes, and bright sunlight.)

The results of the featured study indicate that the sensory feedback from nasal airflow can contribute to the feeling of congestion, and that by altering temperature and humidity levels of inhaled air, you may experience some relief.

The authors of the study suggest that the interaction between temperature and humidity influence “nasal cooling” as the air moves through your nasal cavity. This nasal cooling is detected by “sensors” inside your nose, which stimulate the sensation of air flow being either easy or obstructed, with cooler air resulting in feelings of less obstruction. Essentially, nasal congestion can be sensory related.

According to lead author Kai Zhao, Ph.Dd, a bioengineer, an effective treatment for nasal congestion may need to include restoring optimal humidity and temperature to the patient’s nasal airflow.

What’s the Ideal Level of Humidity?

According to Dr. Robert Ivker, D.O., former President of the American Holistic Medical Association, the ideal level of relative humidity for sinus health is between 35-45 percent. This level is also generally recommended to avoid mold damage in your home. (To accurately determine the relative humidity in your home you would use a hygrometer, available in most home improvement stores.) In the featured study, the two types of air conditions associated with the most effective decrease in feelings of congestion were:

Cold air, and Dry air at room temperature
If your home or office is too humid (above 45 percent), you may want to consider reducing the amount of moisture in the air, as excessive levels may also cause mold and fungi growth that could wreak havoc on your health—it may even be the root cause if you’re suffering from chronic sinus infections. To decrease humidity, you can:

● Use a dehumidifier
● Run the air conditioner
● Take colder and shorter showers
● Install a fan in your kitchen and bathrooms, and leave them on for a while after you’re done cooking or showering


You must be VERY careful about making sure your humidity levels are not too high. This does not need to be due to high outdoor humidity but more commonly is due to some type of water intrusion in the home from a leaky roof, foundation or plumbing. The high humidity will cause mold to grow and could devastate your health as I have written about previously. So the key is to find the cause of the increased humidity and repair it. It would be wise to use a large commercial dehumidifer in your home to lower the humidity until the problem is fixed.

However, very dry air is also known to increase feelings of congestion because drying out your sinus membranes can irritate them further. So depending on your individual circumstances, if the air in your home is excessively dry, then increasing the humidity may help.

To increase humidity, you can:

● Use a vaporizer or humidifier
● Create a steam bath by taking a hot shower, or filling your sink with hot water, then placing a towel over your head as you lean over the sink
● Breathe in the steam from a hot cup of tea

Do You Have a Sinus Infection?

Sinus infections (sinusitis) affect over 39 million Americans every year. It typically occurs when the mucous membranes in your nose and sinuses become irritated by a cold, allergy, or pollution, for example, which then cause them to become inflamed. Once inflamed, the motion of your cilia (the tiny hairs that coat the mucous membranes and are responsible for moving mucus over their surfaces) slows down. At the same time, the irritation stimulates your mucous glands to secrete more mucus than usual to dilute the bacteria.

As a result, mucus gets trapped in your sinuses, where it can easily become infected.

It’s important to understand that antibiotics can spell disaster for this problem. If used long-term, they can lead to very serious complications that may be very difficult to remediate against, including chronic yeast infections and impaired immune function. Furthermore, as I will discuss below, the vast majority of chronic sinusitis cases may be due to exposure to mold or fungi rather than bacteria, which antibiotics will have no effect on at all.

Symptoms of sinus infection include:

● Congestion and pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead
● Thick, green or yellow mucus
● Toothache
● Cold symptoms lasting more than 10 days
● Postnasal drip (excess mucus dripping down the back of your throat)
● Fatigue

Beware: Sinusitis is Often Misdiagnosed

The problem with sinus issues is that that they’re very easily misdiagnosed. Sinus problems and post-nasal drip can actually be a tip-off that you’re being affected by mold or fungi.

In fact, research done by the Mayo Clinic in the 1990s that strongly suggests NEARLY ALL chronic sinusitis is caused by fungi, but blamed on bacteriathen mistreated using antibiotics. The findings were published in 1999 in two peer-reviewed journals, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Mayo Clinic Proceedings.iii Yet, most physicians are still unaware of this study, or at least of its significance. A 1999 Mayo Clinic press releaseiv stated:

“Mayo Clinic researchers say they have found the cause of most chronic sinus infections—an immune system response to fungus.

The Mayo Clinic study suggests that 96 percent of the people who suffer from chronic sinusitis are “fungal sensitized,” meaning they have immune responses triggered by inhaled fungal organisms! This explains why antibiotics are so ineffective for chronic sinusitis as they target bacteria, NOT fungi. Antibiotics and steroids can actually worsen fungal-related infections by destroying your body’s natural biological terrain, creating an internal incubation ground for further fungal growth.

The bottom line is, if you have chronic sinusitis, you MUST approach it from the perspective of a fungal infection FIRST, not a bacterial infection, even if it means having to educate your healthcare provider. A good place to start is by sharing the Mayo Clinic study referenced above. The book, Mold: The War Withinv is also a useful resource.

How to Treat Sinusitis Without Drugs

For chronic sinusitis, please refer above about how to address sinusitis caused by mold and fungi exposure. The following natural treatments can help you get over an acute sinus infection without the use of antibiotics and unnecessary OTC drugs, by keeping your cilia healthy and functioning, thereby preventing excess mucus build-up in your sinuses.

Drink hot liquids, such as tea or hot chicken soup. It will help moisturize your mucous membranes, speeding up the movement of your cilia and thus washing mucus out of your sinuses more quickly.

Apply warm compresses to your face, three times a day for five minutes. A small towel soaked in warm water, placed over your face below and between the eyes, will help increase the circulation in your sinuses, which will also help speed up the movement of your cilia.

Irrigate your sinuses. In a 2007 study from University of Michigan Health System researchersvi, saline irrigation was found to decrease nasal congestion more effectively than saline sprays. It appears to work by thinning mucus, decreasing swelling in your nasal passages and removing debris, bacteria, allergens and inflammatory substances from your nose, hence decreasing swelling that makes it hard to breathe. (If you’ve never done this before, see these Nasal Irrigation Guidelinesvii by the University of Michigan.)

To make your own preservative-free saline solution, just add one teaspoon of himalayan or sea salt to one pint of distilled water. Make sure you use a saline solution that does not contain benzalkonium, a preservative that can impair your nasal function and might sting and burn.

Clear your sinuses with an aromatherapy steam bath. To help open up congested nasal passages and sinuses, put a couple of drops of eucalyptus or menthol aromatherapy oil into a bowl of hot water, then breathe the vapors. In lieu of aromatherapy oil, dabbing some Vick’s VapoRub on your skin underneath your nose can also be effective.

Unclog your sinuses with the right foods. Horseradish, grated on top of a sandwich, or some Japanese wasabi mustard can also help open up congested sinuses.

Elevate your head when sleeping.

Dust your bedroom. Dust and dust mites can wreak havoc on your mucous membranes, especially when you’re asleep and your cilia are at rest. Using a HEPA filter air purifier is also beneficial in keeping your air as free from allergens as possible.

How to Prevent Sinus Infections Before They Start

Poor food quality, excessive exposure to toxic chemicals and a high-stress lifestyle puts you at greater risk for not only sinus infection but all disease. Therefore, maintaining a robust immune system and creating an environment inhospitable to bacterial and fungal proliferation can help prevent sinus problems and infections from occurring in the first place. Here are some of the basic strategies to keep your immune system in top form:

Avoid eating sugar or grains.

Take a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement such as krill oil, which acts as a potent anti-inflammatory

Optimize your vitamin D levels by getting appropriate amounts of sun exposure year-round. Alternatively, use a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields. Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight.) If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement.

Consume organic coconut oil. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal

Avoid eating mycotoxic foods

Get proper sleep

Get regular exercise especially Peak Fitness type exercises

Legal CMA Disclaimer:

Although this article may contain factual information, the information contained in this article has probably not been evaluated by the FDA nor is it in any way intended to be medical advice.

Unfortunately I must recommend that for any change in medical or health behavior or for any change in the way you use prescribed drugs by your healthcare providers or before acting upon any of the advice given in this or any other article, that you consult with your licensed healthcare provider or physician.

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