Postnasal drip, as this mucus problem is medically called, is a common symptom of draining sinuses. The main sinuses are located behind your forehead, above the eyebrows, with tiny ones either side of the bridge of your nose between the eyes, and another bigger pair under the cheekbones. Sinuses are hollow caves in the skull and their main function is to discharge small amounts of mucus from their linings into the nasal passage to moisten it and protect it from infection and invaders. Sinuses also add acoustic value to our voices, as sound resonates in these chambers.
Sometimes, however, too much mucus is discharged into the sinuses. The main trigger, perhaps surprisingly, is the gut and primarily constipation. This is because toxins are unable to be eliminated normally, so they get reabsorbed into the bloodstream, and the body tries to get rid of them via mucus in the sinuses. Other gut problems, including diarrhoea, digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, and consumption of certain foodstuffs (particularly daily) can lead to an increase of mucus in the body. This means that excess mucus is accumulated in the sinuses and phlegm in the respiratory tract. Other causes of sinus problems are allergies such as asthma and hay fever, allergic reactions to certain foods, and, of course, smoking.
If the mucus production is continuous and it drains well from the sinuses, it comes into the throat as a discharge or postnasal drip. This is uncomfortable rather than painful, but it often makes the tonsils or the throat get inflamed, resulting in a sore throat.
More seriously, the mucus may not drain well and the sinuses become blocked. Congested sinuses cause a lot of discomfort and pain (as do polyps growing in the nose, so your doctor should check to see if this is the problem). The face hurts and the forehead throbs because there is pressure on the mucus packed into the cavities. You can have surgery to drain the sinuses, which does bring great relief from the pain.
- Don’t consume very cold foods and drinks.
- Avoid dairy products such as milk, cream, cheese and yoghurt, as well as sugary foods, citrus fruits and juices, curries, bananas, mangoes, canned food, alcohol and coffee.
- Do not smoke.
- Use a nasal douche, which, in India, is called a jal neti pot. Fill the neti pot with lukewarm water and add half a teaspoon of table salt. Tilt your head to the left and, breathing through the mouth, pour the saline water through the nozzle into the right nostril. It will drip in a fine stream out of the left nostril. Repeat on the other side. After that do a cleansing breath (see below) to dry any droplets of liquid left in the nostrils.
- Use Dr Ali’s Sinus Oil or sesame oil: close one nostril then put two drops in the other, open the nostril and sniff up. Repeat in the other nostril. Do this before going to bed. This helps to drain the mucus and give instant relief.
- Take the Ayurvedic supplement Khamira Nazli: half a teaspoonful daily for one month. This will help reduce the excess mucus discharge.
- Massage the sensitive points with your thumbs at the inner ends of the eyebrows, using a little peppermint balm or white tiger balm. Do this for one minute, morning and evening. This will help the excess mucus drain out.
- Standing, look ahead and then up. Now breathe out forcefully ten times making a whooshing sound, while contracting your diaphragm. Look straight ahead and repeat ten times, then look down and repeat ten times.
- Alternate nostril breathing will help clear your nose. Make sure the nasal tract is dry. Place your right thumb over your right nostril, your right first finger over your left nostril. Lift the thumb slightly and breathe in through your right nostril to a slow count of three. Lower the thumb on to your right nostril and raise the finger on your left, then breathe out through your left nostril counting slowly to six. Then repeat, but in through your left and out through your right.
Try the following treatments for a few months before thinking about surgery:
Yoga exercises to cleanse the breath