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Treating Rhinitis and Sinusitis: Surgery may not be the answer

Maintaining the good condition of the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses are vital to our wellbeing. However, the most common nasal and sinus related disorders are rhinitis and sinusitis. Those are ailments of the nose, which is centrally located on the face.

Having the disorders, then, could be translated as the center of your life is disrupted. Surely, those would not cause much concern, if they are healed properly. However, the problem lies in their intractability. A common cold can trigger the symptoms to recur and surgical operation might not be ideal, as it does not ensure complete protection from colds. Putting the methods and effectiveness of the conventional treatments aside, I would like to introduce an alternative therapy consists of herbal tincture, acupuncture and suction, based on the unique advantage of traditional Oriental medicine.

◉ Rhinitis

Acute Rhinitis, Chronic Rhinitis, Hypertrophic Rhinitis, Atrophic Rhinitis Allergic Rhinitis

Rhinitis means inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. Depending on the symptoms, rhinitis categorized into acute rhinitis, chronic rhinitis, hypertrophic rhinitis, atrophic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis.

Acute rhinitis may accompany the symptoms of bodily discomfort, slight fever, chills, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and headaches. People may feel the burning sensation in the nasal cavity and rhinopharynx that stimulates the nerves of the nasal cavity to induce a fit of sneezing. After the phase, nasal discharge and inflammation of the nasal mucosa cause nasal congestion. Without having secondary infection, the nasal cavity returns to normal within 6 to 10 days. In the absence of proper treatment, there could be complications, including sinusitis, otitis media, bronchitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, lymphadenitis, and pneumonia.

The most common symptoms of chronic rhinitis include nasal congestion. Often, the nose gets congested one at a time, however, both sides may get congested in severe cases, induce mouth breathing. If this continues, chronic rhinitis is diagnosed. Hypertrophic rhinitis accompanies severe nasal congestion. Persistent chronic rhinitis that failed to respond to drug therapy to secure clear nasal cavity may be recommend for surgical treatments. Atrophic rhinitis is caused by atrophy of the nasal concha, (or the turbinate) an anatomical structure inside the nasal cavity. Although the nasal passages are widened due to the atrophy, patients may still complain of nasal congestion. The sub-performing secreting glands of the mucous membranes may cause the patients to feel their noses dry.

Rhinitis sufferers complain 3 major symptoms of stuffy nose, nasal discharge, and sneezing that undermine their quality of life. Rhinitis caused by nasal cold can be easily treated with conventional medications, however, the time will come when congestion cannot easily be resolved after recurring episodes. From thereon, seeking help from hospitals and medicine may fail to offer adequate solution. Why is that so? Why rhinitis became an intractable disorder?

Let's take a closer look at the aspect has been under a veil of secrecy: why chronic rhinitis is hard to treat with medications. The nasal mucous membrane consists of sponge-like tissues, embedded with mucus secreting glands to keep the membranes moist. This also serves as the acceptor to receive odor molecules, moist controller and air filter when breathing. If the membranes have no secreting function to keep the moisture level constant, the dryness in the nasal mucosa might cause a severe pain.

We need to focus on it consists of secreting tissues. This also could mean it can be easily inflamed to swell up. Therefore, infection in the tissues induces much larger inflammation compare to any other tissues. This in turn, increases their secretion, resulting continuous nasal discharge as a broken, leaky faucet. The constricted nasal passages become congested.

Drug treatment alone suffice to treat acute rhinitis at its early stage. However, recurring rhinitis diminishes the effectiveness of the treatments, patients do not feel their noses clear. Prolonged inflammation causes the nasal mucosa to lose much of its elasticity, however, there is more important reason. This can be explained by the post-rhinitis swelling which remained inflamed to a certain degree. The swelling is not caused by an infection, but by remaining hypertrophic tissues. If this repeats year after year, cold after cold, the hypertopic tissues accumulates to block the nose, which are hard to relieve with anti-inflammatory drugs. (The inflamed nasal mucous membrane secrets more mucus relative to its engorged state; this currently describes as chronic rhinitis.)

The limited efficacy of the drug therapy in treating the mucous membranes leads to volume-reduction treatments to widen the space of the nasal cavity. This would reduce the secretion and therefore, congestion would be resolved. Western medicine, therefore, has to offer no other than surgical options. Alternatively, Oriental medicine provides a non-surgical solution.

This is an ideal as killing two birds with one stone, as acupuncture also relieves blood stasis to revitalizes the membrane.

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