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How to improve sinus health

Are sinus issues always caused by seasonal factors?

“The vast majority of what I treat is based on what people eat and inhale—and those things can be regional. In New York City, for example, I see more sinus infections and allergies in the summer since people are unknowingly blowing allergens like mold into their homes through their air conditioners.

In general, cities have abnormal pollen in spring and summer. Landscapers prefer to plant unnatural combinations of male trees because, unlike female trees, they don’t spread seeds when they bloom. Instead, they spew allergenic pollen. If you have pets, you likely spend more time with them outside during warmer months. That traps things like pollen and dust in their hair or fur, giving allergens a way into your home.

Spring allergies are often the worst because winter can make people Vitamin D deficient, which affects the immune system. From October to March, I suggest supplementing daily with 5,000 IUs each of vitamin D as well as bromelain (pineapple core enzyme) and omega-3 fish oil, which indirectly boost immunity by easing inflammation.”

What can people do to combat mold?

“Mold is rampant; it’s really everywhere. In the winter, humidifiers are a main culprit; in the summer, AC units are.

There are two things you can do to clear the air in your home: Place an industrial air purifier in every main room and big, leafy plants wherever you can to produce more oxygen. Choose ones that are easy to grow and have big leaves: Devil’s Ivy, Peace Lilies, and Dumb Canes, for example.

Instead of a humidifier, apply Neosporin inside your nose or use a personal steam inhaler, which is hydrating and antibacterial.

People think of allergies as being wet, but keep in mind that they manifest in many ways: bloody noses, sinus infections, or dryness in the eyes and nasal passages.”

How does diet impact sinus health?

“Most of my patients with chronic sinus infections, post-nasal drip, or allergies also have gastric issues. Usually the first thing I’ll suggest is a special diet to combat yeast overgrowth, a major cause of inflammation.

To starve out the yeast, we’ll cut out the top foods and drinks that can cause sinus inflammation: wine, beer, wheat/gluten, dairy, and sugar. Kombucha is horrible for sinuses because it is all yeast and sugar.

I also recommend eating low-glycemic simple carbs (like basmati rice) as well as taking fluconazole, an anti-fungal medication, and prescription-strength probiotics, which your ENT can prescribe.

Yeast is very hard to kill unless you hit it at all levels. Most patients have a miraculous response within two weeks of being on this type of diet.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for publication.