By Christy Lindsay
For many years I suffered from chronic sinus infections; at least two and sometimes up to five or six in any given year. I’m talking about infections that would completely knock me off the grid, lock me in my bed and make life utterly miserable. I tried nasal sprays, which did open things up sometimes (if I could breathe enough to actually use them), Azithromycin, which never had any real effect, and a combination of far infrared saunas and Mucinex. Some homeopathic remedies were added to the list and also did nothing to stop the infections.
Of all those methods, the combination of Mucinex and sauna sessions several times a day did the best when it came to reducing symptoms and narrowing the window of illness. But still, getting two to six of these things a year, even if I shorted the time span, still added up to lost days at work and misery.
I made a few dietary changes (reducing chocolates, eliminating dairy) just to mix things up, without thinking it would do anything for my sinus infections. Then I went for more than a year without one until I made a major mistake. It was the simplest mistake to make, really. All I did was start eating cereal with milk again and within a week I had a massive sinus infection that took almost two weeks to overcome. I cut out the milk again and voila. I haven’t had a sinus infection since. Because a doctor recommended probiotics, I drank some Kefir smoothies that are supposedly 99% lactose-free and now I have the sniffles. So I’ll be getting my probiotics another way.
Why would cutting out dairy help so much? According to Nathaniel Mead, MD in Natural Health, “dairy products are the leading cause of food allergy, often revealed by diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue. Many cases of asthma and sinus infections are reported to be relieved and even eliminated by cutting out dairy.”
Technically, cow’s milk is made for helping baby cows grow. It was never intended as a cross-species supplement. Some people seem to do ok with it or at least don’t equate it to their own health issues; others, like myself, can’t handle it at all. Why? Cow’s milk and products made from cow’s milk are incredibly mucous-forming. When a bacterial infection arrives, the mucous linings in our nasal cavities swells. The more mucous we have that can’t get out, the more bacterial growth can result. It turns into a vicious cycle.
This is why Mucinex and far infrared saunas helped; they assisted in opening up some passages and getting bacteria-laden mucous out of my system (as well as the general detox a sauna can provide). But Mucinex is like any other drug, it can be overused and I didn’t want to have to rely on medications several times a year, especially since each ensuing infection seemed to get worse.
So now when I want milk, which isn’t often, I use Rice Dream (soy milks and I do not gel). I was never a big fan of cheese so I haven’t investigated milk-less cheeses but friends have mentioned there are some good vegan options available (and I’m not a vegan either). Because dairy is in so many products it would be hard to completely cut it out, but I’ve eliminated the vast, vast majority and it’s been one of the most positive health changes I’ve ever made. Plus it’s easy to replace the calcium with other foods, so there’s no worry there.
I hope this is helpful. For the record, I am not a doctor and can not promise that eliminating dairy will cure your sinus infections. Doing so however will not cause severe allergic reactions, limb swelling or a plethora of other side effects that many sinus medications can. So breathe well, my friends.