Teresa S Neal, PhD
March 7, 2022
Sinus infections can be absolutely miserable and last for weeks. Several people I know who tested positive for the current variety of viruses, were either first diagnosed with a sinus infection, or later, the infection settled in to make their lives miserable for weeks after testing positive. For some of us, sinus issues have been a way of life that accompany seasonal allergies and/or flu symptoms.
We have become extremely vulnerable to viruses and their variants, to germs that cause common colds, and to other toxic pathogens that plague our world. In the past couple of years, these tiny destructive forces have changed how we think, the way we interact with others, the availability of jobs and resources, and how we live our lives.
I was exposed three separate times recently in direct, close-up interactions that lasted for hours or even days. The people involved either tested positive to the virus or stayed at home sick and miserable. In each case, they had previously been exposed to someone who tested positive. In one of those cases, I provided daycare for a child who was sick with a cough, runny nose, and lack of energy. Besides the tiredness, excessive lack of energy, and feeling like they “had been hit by a bus,” many people suffer from symptoms similar to, if not in fact, sinus infections.
In spite of the several cases where I was exposed, I did not become sick. Which is surprising because I frequently suffer from sinus issues. I isolated after hearing from my friend (whose home I had stayed at overnight while traveling) that she tested positive. She had a cough and tickly throat while I was at her house, but we thought they were symptoms of her seasonal allergies. She went in for a test just to be sure, and discovered she was positive with the virus.
After isolating for four days, I took the test, which turned out to be negative. I was not surprised because I had no symptoms, other than my usual sneezes from allergies.
How did I avoid the viruses? I credit healthy eating, exercise, good sleep, and four supplements (in addition to my daily dose of high-quality vitamins and supplements). I believe these helped support my immune system by overcoming some deficiencies. I will identify and describe them below.
Can We “Boost” Our Immune System?
It is important to recognize that we cannot actually “boost” our immune system. We can, however, support it by making sure we live a healthy lifestyle and eat the right variety of foods which include all the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. If your food intake lacks these essential nutrients, you may want to consider high quality supplements—but be sure to read the labels and know the efficacy of the ingredients you are adding to your body. Not all supplements are created equal.
Do you need the vaccine? Evidence indicates that vaccines may not stop viruses from entering our bodies, but they do seem to help reduce the severity of the symptoms and length of illness. They do this by teaching our bodies to recognize infections and send antibodies to fight off the pathogens before they settle in and make us severely ill. A strong, healthy immune system does that naturally.
It is also important to be aware of our surroundings. Avoiding crowded places where you risk loading your immune system with pathogens, such as the Omicron virus, can help protect you. Continuing to practice social distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing masks while in close contact with others are ways you can protect yourself and others.
We have learned to protect our environments, somewhat, with better ventilation systems. My personal favorite for house and office use is the air filter system by Puritii®. A variety of sprays are also available to disinfect commonly used spaces in our homes and office spaces.
Sinusitis, or sinus infections, can be a result of allergies, a cold or certain types of viral illnesses. Risks increase for people who have rhinitis (aka hay fever), cystic fibrosis, or who attend daycare, change altitude (as when flying or scuba diving), smoke, or have large adenoids. A weakened immune system, abnormal sinus structures, or contracting diseases that affect the cilia (small hairs in the sinuses) can also lead to sinus infections.
Infections in the sinus passages are medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, which is an inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are air-filled spaces located behind the cheeks, nose, forehead, and eyes. Mucus is produced in these spaces in order to keep the nose moist and healthy. When the sinuses become blocked, air is not allowed to move through the passages, and mucous production does not drain properly. Bacteria and other germs incubate in this moist area, increasing the likelihood of a long-lasting infection.
According to a description in Mount Sinai’s Health Library, three problems can cause sinusitis:
- The normal function of the cilia (sinus hairs) fails to drain the mucus.
- The common cold and allergies interrupt that natural flow of the mucus by producing too much mucus and/or blocking the opening of the passageways.
- Nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum, aka the nasal bone spur, sometimes block the sinus openings.
Symptoms of Sinusitis
Symptoms for both acute and chronic sinusitis are the same. For adults, acute symptoms generally occur when a cold persists or gets worse after 7-10 days. With chronic sinusitis, the symptoms may be milder but last longer than 12 weeks. When the swelling in the sinuses persists for 1-3 months, it is considered subacute sinusitis.
Sinusitis symptoms include the following:
- Runny and/or stuffy nose
- Pressure and possibly pain around the nasal passage and behind the eyes
- Post-nasal drip, which is mucus draining down the throat
- Sore throat (often a result of the mucus dripping down the throat)
- Bad breath
An article from Mount Sinai health publications points out that for children, the symptoms are similar but need to be carefully watched:
- A cold or other respiratory issues that were improving but then begin to get worse
- High fever along with darkened mucus that lasts for at least 3 days
- Nasal discharge for more than 10 days with no improvement, which may or may not be accompanied by a cough
Generally, both children and adults heal from sinusitis without medical treatment. After a week or two, however, if the symptoms are not going away, it may be time to call a doctor. The CDC recommends medical care in the following cases:
- if the headaches, facial pain, or sore throat become severe
- symptoms seem to have been improving but then get worse
- the infection persists more than 10 days with little to no improvement
- a fever lasts longer than 3-4 days
- multiple infections have occurred within a year
According to the CDC, most sinus infections get better on their own. Antibiotics, which were once a common treatment, are generally not needed and can actually be harmful because of potential side effects. Some infections do require antibiotics, so you should check with your doctor. Watchful waiting is the common recommendation.
I have suffered from allergies, hay fever, and sinusitis for years. I have learned ways to deal with them, and can overcome the symptoms to some extent. But then I move to a new location or travel for a few weeks. Something happens and it seems I need to start over.
It’s bad enough that many of us suffer from sinus issues that often turn to sinus infections. To top it off, we now have our current crisis with viruses. They add additional worry and complications because they produce overlapping symptoms. One of my family members came down with covid more than a year ago. She went to the doctor and was told she had a severe sinus infection. Other members of her household tested positive for covid; she did not. When her condition did not improve, she went back in for another test. This time it was positive.
So, when we have symptoms, how do we know if we have sinusitis, a cold, flu or some variant of the coronavirus? And does it matter? For more information about the similarities and differences, see my article, “Common Cold, Flu, or Worse—8 Tips to Protect against Lurking Symptoms.”
We have learned so much about viruses in the past couple years, but there is still much to learn. One important practice is to recognize that when we are sick, we need to stay home. Not just for ourselves but for those around us as well. Before covid, we might go to work out of need or a strong work ethic. Now going to work when we are sick may jeopardize someone’s life.
Benefits of Zinc
Now back to my problem—and maybe yours or someone you know: the sinus infection. What if it’s just allergies? Can similar remedies protect against the common cold and more serious viruses as well? And how do we know for certain if it is just allergies? Basically, we cannot know with certainty unless we are tested.
One way to avoid the problem is to protect ourselves and make sure we don’t get sick in the first place. Prevention is so much better than waiting for a cure. Plus, we won’t lose time off work or be stuck in isolation away from our work, family, and friends.
How do we protect ourselves when we don’t know for sure what we have? One answer is Zinc. There is a definite correlation between zinc deficiency and allergies, between zinc deficiency and those who suffer from asthma. There are now studies indicating that zinc may help relieve and possibly even prevent other respiratory tract infections caused by a variety of viruses as well.
In a fact sheet for consumers published by the NIH, Zinc is described as an essential mineral found in cells throughout the body which is needed for good health. Zinc is used by the immune system to fight against bacteria and viruses that attempt to invade our bodies. Our bodies use zinc to make proteins and DNA. For children’s bodies to grow and develop effectively from pregnancy and infancy through childhood, zinc is essential. Zinc affects our sense of taste and smell and provides healing qualities for wounds. Zinc also speeds up recovery time for people dealing with the common cold.
Zinc, Respiratory Infections, and Allergies
According to Sarah Hyland, writing for A.Vogel UK Health, numerous studies on zinc levels and allergies indicate the value of using zinc to protect and heal people with allergies:
- Skin complaints like atopic dermatitis were found to be more prevalent in patients with low zinc levels.
- Zinc supplementation has been shown to relieve the symptoms of respiratory allergies and to shorten the length of common cold symptoms.
- People with asthma and allergic rhinitis were found to have lower levels of zinc in their blood and sputum. Zinc is shown to have a protective effect on the respiratory system.
In April of 2020, the International Journal of Internal Medicine published a report indicating that Zinc possesses antiviral qualities and can act as a barrier that protects our respiratory epithelium. A simpler way of saying that is, zinc blocks a variety of bacteria and viruses, including the current problematic ones, that attempt to incubate in our respiratory system. This includes our sinus nasal passages as well as our lungs.
Zinc lozenges and syrups have been available for decades to reduce the length of the common cold, but they need to be taken with care. Too much zinc can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, and headaches. The benefit of the lozenges is that the substance stays in the throat where the zinc can come into contact with the viruses that attempt to lodge in the moist passageway.
Zinc Nasal Wash
A new, highly effective product with few to no side effects is Zinc+ Skin and Nasal Wash. This product is a Daily Hygiene wash made of an exclusive mineral compound discovered by NASA scientists researching the effects of accelerated aging caused by space travel. The mineral blend includes zinc, copper, and magnesium—three minerals of which many people are deficient, especially as we age.
The over-the-counter version provided by pHresH Functional Nutrition is diluted in an ultra-purified IV fluid quality-saline solution. Each of the minerals in this special compound act in specific ways to help our bodies reject and/or fight off infections.
- The zinc in this solution acts as a barrier to block viruses from incubating and triggering a replication process.
- The copper allows production of healthy white blood cells which our bodies use to attack foreign debris, fungi, and bacteria. It protects against viral infections and produces antibodies to fight infection and help us heal.
- Magnesium in the compound is an anti-stress mineral. Stress creates dis-ease in our body, which weakens our immune system and makes it more difficult for us to combat viruses and other unwanted pathogens.
Zinc for Sore Throats and Skin Infections
Besides the use of Zinc Plus as a hygiene wash for the nasal passages, it can be diluted in distilled water and used as a gargle to relieve sore throats. Cuts and wounds may be washed with Zinc Plus to nourish skin cells, promote healing, optimize the barrier function of the skin, and reduce the risk of infection by cleansing away unwanted substances.
Suggested Use: Use 1-5 sprays in each nostril every day, morning and evening, or as often as cleansing is beneficial to clear unwanted substances. Repeat use whenever exposed to elements outside of your own environment.~pHresh Functional Nutrition
Magnesium and Choline to Help Manage Asthma
People suffering from asthma resulting from allergy attacks may find relief by supplementing with magnesium, according to Renue Pharmacy, a member of the Texas Pharmacy Association.
Magnesium has been recommended by medical experts for treating asthma. When a person’s bronchial muscles have become inflamed, magnesium helps calm the muscles and allow air to flow through more effectively. A daily dose of magnesium could help manage asthmatic symptoms and improve overall health of the respiratory system.
Magnesium is a vital mineral for health and wellness. It is particularly valuable in calming the body and reducing the effects of stress. Almost fifty percent of people in the US suffer from a magnesium deficiency and may need to find the right choice of supplements. People with asthma typically have even lower levels of magnesium than the average person. Magnesium comes in a variety of types, so it is important to understand which kind you are taking and for what purpose.
Choline is another nutrient that is helpful to those who suffer from asthma. If coughing is a factor in your life, you may need more choline. This essential nutrient, which is valuable for health and wellness in general, can help clear up coughing.
Renue Parmacy reported that choline is particularly valuable for supporting both our nervous system and a healthy liver, as well as other benefits. Research also suggests that choline combined with other vitamins may alleviate respiratory illnesses. Continued research is needed, but the outlook is good for how effective choline may be for relieving those who suffer from asthma.
According to pHresH Functional Nutrition, choline is known as “brain food” and is necessary for producing optimal IQ not only in developing babies but for the health of both active and aging brains as well. Choline determines how effectively energy is transferred between cells and how well the cells and the liver can flush out toxic wastes that accumulate in our bodies.
Our bodies take in choline from food such as raw eggs and pastured organ meats. If these foods are not common in your diet, you may benefit from supplements. The AMA recommendation of choline for men is 550 mg and 425 mg per day for women. Whether we eat foods rich in choline or take supplements, pHresH Funtional Nutrition reports that choline taken with magnesium “provides for better blood sugar stability, healthy hormone balance, and a sense of calm.”
My favorite product that includes both magnesium and choline is MagneCALM. This nutraceutical product, offered by pHresh Functional Nutrition, combines choline, essential B-Vitamins, and MagTein. MagTein is the only clinical-proven form of magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier. When used consistently, it has been shown to reverse short term memory loss and improve sleep patterns. For more information, see “Beauty Sleep Is Possible: 7 Tips for Better Sleep.”
Superfoods and Superfruits
The fourth nutritional source for helping to avoid or recover from sinus problems is a healthy boost of superfoods and superfruits when the food you’re eating doesn’t provide what you need. You may have heard of fruits, such as bergamot, acai, Tahitian Noni fruit, blueberries, and of healing mushrooms, such as shiitake and lion’s mane, and others that are considered superfoods. Superfoods are foods we consume, rich in nutrients and antioxidants, that support our immune system and help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.
It’s wonderful when we have access to a wide variety of healthy foods, especially those foods that are considered to be superfoods. For many of us, however, there may be seasonal limitations or maybe we don’t take the time to make the best choices while shopping, preparing food at home, or ordering our meals from restaurants. Too many of us are not absorbing enough of the essential vitamins and minerals we need.
We may not be eating enough superfoods or at least not a good enough variety. When that happens, our bodies begin to wear down. We need to listen to our bodies and give them the support they need.
I have learned so much about what to eat, what not to eat, why certain foods are considered healthier than others, and why my body doesn’t absorb all the nutrients I need even when I think I am eating right. That is why I try to shop for and eat a large variety of healthy foods. That is why I also research supplements and other healthy living options so that I can keep myself and my loved ones as healthy as possible.
In the superfoods category, my favorite nutritional food options is MOA® by Nutrifii™. MOA has become my go to whenever I feel a sinus issue coming on. And when I do have a sinus infection, I drink MOA instead of taking the OTC medicines I used to take (which often dried up my nose too much and would irritate my stomach).
When I first discovered MOA, I experimented with it the first time I knew my sinus blockage would turn into an infection. Instead of the 3 weeks of suffering, I had to deal with the symptoms for only 3 days. Then I learned to drink an extra MOA or two whenever I felt the telltale signs of a sinus irritation. Using both MOA and Zinc Plus, my sinus issues now last maybe 3 hours instead of 3 weeks. I always keep at least one box of MOA on hand and a couple pouches in my purse.
MOA comes in a small food pouch making it easy to grab and go. What’s more important is that MOA combines the juice, extracts, and purees of 36 superfruits and superfoods into one Go Pouch. It includes a revitalizing blend of mushrooms, a clinical dose of bergamot, noni, and nigella seeds. The 36 superfoods work together to amplify the body’s natural immune system.
Our optimum goal is to support our immune system and let it work for us to stay healthy. For that to happen, though, we need to be aware of how we can support our own bodies so they will continue to allow us to do all the activities we were born to do. Eat a good variety of healthy foods, practice moderate exercise at least three to five days a week for twenty minutes or more, rest, avoid stress, and sleep an adequate number of hours a night for your age and health level.
For optimal results, learn about high quality supplements that will compensate for any deficiencies in the essential vitamins and minerals that you need to live optimally. Above all else, establish a healthy mindset that will guide you toward living a good life.
CDC, “Sinus Infection (Sinusitis), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” reviewed Aug. 27, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sinus-infection.html
Frothingham, Scott, “Zinc for Allergies: Is It Effective?” Healthline, April 4, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/dr/zinc-for-allergies
Hyland, Sarah, “Can Zinc Help Your Allergies?” AVogelUKHealth, Apr. 6, 2020, https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/allergic-rhinitis/can-zinc-help-your-allergies/
Kala, Sadhana, “Boost Immunity, Beat Omicron,” The Times of India, Dec. 23, 2021, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/methink/boost-immunity-beat-omicron/
Milsosavljevic, Nada, M.D., “The Benefits of Zinc,’ Spartan Up Podcast Health, July 15, 2019, recorded on Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBseaQTBh3E
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Zinc: Fact Sheet for Consumers,” National Institutes of Health, updated Dec. 8, 2021, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/#:~:text=Signs%20of%20too%20much%20zinc,the%20%22good%22%20cholesterol
pHresH Functional Nutrition, “MagneCALM,” reported in Kwik, accessed December 2021, https://api.kwikclick.io/getKwikLinkByKey?key=snp1646660245538_kwikclick.io
Renue Pharmacy, “4 Supplement Options to Reduce Asthma Symptoms,” June 5, 2020, https://renuerx.com/general-health/4-supplement-options-to-reduce-asthma-symptoms/
“Sinusitis,” Mount Sinai Health Library, accessed Feb. 16, 2022, https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/sinusitis
Skalny, Anatoly V., et al., “Zinc and Respiratory Tract Infections: Perspectives for Covid-19 (Review), International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Apr. 14, 2020, doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2020.4575
Superior Compounding Pharmacy, “What Is a Sinus Infection?” recorded on Youtube, Aug. 14, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXKlJYDHPZQ&t=4s
“What Is a Sinus Infection,” Superior Compounding Pharmacy, www.superiorcompounding.com, recorded on Youtube, Aug. 14, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sinus-infection.html