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Medical Marijuana and Sinusitis

marijuana and sinusitis

Sinusitis is a painful condition that can either be acute or chronic. You may have been unknowingly suffering from sinusitis if you’ve ever felt as though you’ve had a cold that just wouldn’t go away. In this article, we look at what sinusitis is, symptoms to expect, the current treatments and their side effects. We also look at how medical marijuana can help you if you have a sinusitis diagnosis.

What Is Sinusitis?

Your sinuses are hollow spaces behind your nose, around your eyes and inside your cheekbones. They contain the mucus that supports your body to filter, warm and moisten the air you breathe. You could end up with a sinus infection if something blocks this mucus from draining effectively.

If you have sinusitis, you experience thick nasal discharge, nasal congestion, cough and facial pressure. These symptoms can be painful and difficult to get respite from. Additionally, you feel groggy and breathing through your nose can be difficult.

There are several different types of the condition, but acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis are the most common.

  • Acute Sinusitis. Your symptoms last less than four weeks when you have acute sinusitis. Most cases start as common colds and progress on to the condition. Symptoms typically dissipate within a week to ten days. However, some people go on to develop a bacterial infection.
  • Chronic Sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis is sometimes called chronic rhinosinusitis. If your symptoms have been going on for more than 12 weeks, your doctor may diagnose you with the condition. If you have already received a diagnosis of asthma or allergic rhinitis, you have an increased likelihood of getting chronic sinusitis. When you have either of these two conditions, your airways have an increased likelihood of becoming inflamed.

An immune system deficiency, infection, nasal polyps, a fungus or a deviated nasal septum can lead to sinusitis.

History of Sinusitis

There is no recorded history of the first person to ever suffer from the condition. Much like the common cold, sinusitis has been found in humans probably since our time on earth began.

sinusitis stats

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Look out for the following if you suspect you have sinusitis:

Acute Sinusitis Symptoms

  • Loss of smell
  • Congestion
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure
  • Facial pain
  • Sinus headache
  • Runny nose

You may also experience:

  • Dental pain
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

You might have acute sinusitis if you present with at least two or more of the above symptoms or if you have thick yellow or green nasal discharge.

Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms

You may have the following symptoms for at least 12 weeks or more:

  • Fever
  • A nasal blockage or obstruction
  • Discolored postnasal drainage or a runny nose
  • A feeling of fullness or congestion in your face

You may also have dental pain, headaches and bad breath. Feeling abnormally tired is also a sign of chronic sinusitis. Remember, though, there are many illnesses and conditions that have similar symptoms. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Effects of Sinusitis

Sinusitis can cause you a great deal of facial discomfort. You may have sore eyes, ears and a painful sinus headache you just can't seem to shake. The pain can make it hard to get a good night’s rest. So, on top of the tiredness you feel already from being ill, you feel even more exhausted.

If you have chronic sinusitis, you might have to stay off work for weeks, even months, which could then lead to isolation and financial stress. You feel weary and lethargic, which can lead on to depression. If you have other allergies, this can exacerbate your problems.

  • A study in the American Journal of Rhinology reports that individuals with both chronic sinusitis and depression experience worse sinus pain than others who aren’t depressed.
  • Another study in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology indicated that in individuals with chronic sinusitis, depression is associated with more doctor visits, increased missed workdays and more antibiotic use.
  • According to a study published in the European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology: Official Journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS): Affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, in people with chronic sinusitis, scores on anxiety and depression scales are closely associated with scores on the SNOT-22 questionnaire. SNOT-22 includes general quality-of-life questions as well as disease-specific ones.

If you’re suffering from sinusitis and feel conventional treatments are not as effective as you need them to be, medical marijuana for sinusitis could help.

Sinusitis Statistics

sinusitis effects

Current Treatments Available for Sinusitis and Their Side Effects

The overall goals of treating sinusitis are to:

  • Reduce sinus inflammation.
  • Reduce the number of flare-ups.
  • Keep nasal passages draining.
  • Eliminate any underlying cause.

Here are ways to reach the goals of treating sinusitis:

Symptom-Relieving Treatments. There are quite a few common options geared to help relieve sinusitis symptoms, but that don’t necessarily heal in infection. These include:

  • Nasal corticosteroids. These are sprays that treat and prevent inflammation.
  • Saline nasal irrigation. You can do this with solutions, nasal sprays or a neti pot.
  • Injected or oral corticosteroids. Using oral corticosteroids is not recommended long-term as side effects can be serious. Because of this, corticosteroids are typically only used when your symptoms are severe.
  • Aspirin desensitization treatments. If your sinusitis is caused by a reaction to this drug, you’re given increasingly larger doses under medical supervision, increasing your tolerance.

Antibiotics. A course of antibiotics may be necessary if you have a bacterial infection. Unfortunately, these medications aren’t always powerful enough to get rid of sinusitis. You could also develop a resistance to them over time. Another negative is that antibiotics often produce side effects such as rashes, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach upsets.

Immunotherapy.You may be advised to have immunotherapy (allergy shots) if your sinusitis is brought on by allergies. Doing this should help reduce your reaction to specific allergens. It’s hoped that your condition will then improve.

Surgery.You may be offered endoscopic sinus surgery if your case of sinusitis is severe and resistant to medications and treatments. A doctor explores your sinus passages with an endoscope. If they find an obstruction, they may use instruments to remove it or to shave away any nasal blockages such as polyps. They could also elect to enlarge your sinus openings for better drainage.

Medical marijuana. Cannabis can be used to help improve breathing, relieve headaches and reduce the pain associated with sinusitis.

Why Look for Alternatives to Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids may help treat your sinusitis. However, these drugs come with a variety of potentially adverse side effects as we mentioned earlier. Oral corticosteroids are particularly worrisome as they affect your whole body rather than targeting one particular location. The side effects you experience depend on the dose of the drug you take and can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated pressure in your eyes (glaucoma)
  • Problems with behavior, mood, memory and other psychological effects
  • Swelling in your lower legs caused by fluid retention
  • Weight gain, including fat deposits in your face, abdomen and the back of your neck

If you continue to take oral corticosteroids long-term, you may experience:

  • Fractures and thinning bones (osteoporosis)
  • Cataracts
  • Increased risk of infections
  • High blood sugar (that can bring on or worsen diabetes)
  • Slower wound healing, thin skin and bruising
  • Suppressed adrenal gland hormone production

Side Effects of Inhaled Corticosteroids

When you inhale corticosteroids, a little of the drug may stay in your throat and mouth rather than reach your lungs, potentially resulting in:

  • Hoarseness
  • Oral thrush

Side Effects of Injected Corticosteroids

You may find you experience temporary side effects after a corticosteroid injection, including:

  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Facial flushing
  • Skin thinning
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of color in your skin

The side effects above may make you leery of taking corticosteroids for sinusitis, whether they are in the injected or inhaled form. Read on to find out more about how medical cannabis for sinusitis can help to relieve your symptoms naturally.

How/Why Marijuana Is an Effective Treatment for Sinusitis

Marijuana has been used medicinally for centuries. Thankfully, the stigma associated with pot is now diminishing. With many states legalizing medical cannabis for qualifying conditions, weed is going mainstream.

Research has shown cannabinoids are extremely effective and powerful antibiotics. They could be the key to halting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, like those found in chronic sinusitis, in their tracks. This is an exciting concept that could mean by using medical marijuana, you can go on to live a normal life free from medications and their side-effects.

marijuana cbd

The cannabinoids found in marijuana may have anti-microbial properties and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Smoking pot probably may not be the best route if you have sinusitis as your breathing is already affected. Edibles, tinctures and so on may be more appropriate. Speak to your medical marijuana doctor as to which form is best for you.

What Symptoms of Sinusitis Can Marijuana Treat?

If you’re looking for a natural way of managing sinusitis, you can use it safely without worrying about harmful side effects associated with many medications. Cannabis can be helpful to:

  • Open airways. As it’s a bronchodilator, cannabis makes breathing easier, breaks up congestion and opens sinus passages.
  • Deaden the pain in sinuses. Pot can be an effective painkiller.
  • Treat inflammation. Pot is useful for reducing inflammation.

Medical Marijuana and Sinusitis Congestion

When it comes to congestion, expectorants are the favorite medication. Thus far, medical marijuana has not been found to serve as an expectorant. However, medical marijuana has been shown to be a bronchodilator, which can help individuals who have sinusitis and difficulty breathing breathe a little easier. The buildup of mucus, sore throat and postnasal drip can make it hard to breathe.

Of course, you should not smoke medical marijuana if you’re having difficulty breathing. A physician can suggest a better method of ingestion such as eating the medication or using a vaporizer.

Medical Marijuana and Headache Associated With Sinusitis

Medical marijuana can have a similar effect as codeine in that it can relieve as much pain as codeine in cancer patients, according to one study. It is a known pain reliever. However, many pain relievers are not successful in relieving headaches. That is not the case for marijuana. Individuals with some of the most painful headaches possible — migraines and cluster headaches — have had positive results using medical marijuana to relieve their headache pain.

Medical Marijuana and Sinus Pain From Sinusitis

As mentioned above, medical marijuana is an analgesic. It can relieve nerve pain, headache pain, muscle pain and more. Trials have shown it can reduce dependency on opiates by replacing their pain-relieving effects. It relieves pain in chronic pain sufferers. It can even provide relief for treatment-resistant pain. Sinusitis can cause pain in the nose, face, throat, ears and head. Medical marijuana relieves pain in people who respond well to it.

Of course, alternative methods to inhalation should be discussed with a doctor to reduce the risk of further irritating the throat and sinuses.

Medical Marijuana and Reduction of Inflammation in Sinusitis

One area of study right now in medical marijuana research is medical marijuana and inflammation, particularly in Crohn's Disease. There is evidence medical marijuana can relieve inflammation in individuals with digestive disorders.

There is also testimony by marijuana users that it can relieve skin inflammations and other inflammatory ailments. Since inflammation accounts for some of the pain and discomfort associated with sinusitis, relief of that inflammation with medical marijuana can help relieve the other symptoms.

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Sinusitis

So, now you know more about marijuana and sinusitis, but you may wonder what strains are best. It’s a good idea to talk to your marijuana doctor or a knowledgeable budtender for advice. To help you get started in the meantime, we've compiled this list of strains of cannabis for sinusitis that could help.

Bronchodilator Effects

The following strains are excellent for helping open up your airways:

  • Dance World. Dance World, a medicinal strain, is a great all-rounder. Not only is it useful for helping you breathe more easily, but it also boasts anti-pain, anti-anxiety, anti-spasm and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Royal Medic. Royal Medic is a new hybrid of two Spanish strains: Critical, known for its large yields, and the medicinal, Juanita la Lagrimosa. This strain can provide you with pain relief as well as having a bronchodilation effect.

Painkilling Effects

Suitable strains for treating pain include:

  • Sour Diesel. Sour Diesel is a strain that provides an uplifting effect and is excellent for treating the depression that’s often associated with chronic sinusitis.
  • White Widow. White Widow is a popular strain for pain relief. It provides an energetic and euphoric feeling. It’s also good for depression.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Using pot to treat sinus inflammation is both natural and effective. Some strains for treating inflammation are:

  • Cannatonic. Cannatonic is commonly used to treat pain, seizures, epilepsy and inflammation by people suffering from chronic illnesses. It’s fast acting, but its pain-killing effects are short-lived. Therefore, you may need to medicate several times a day.
  • Harlequin. Harlequin is a sativa strain that’s useful for reducing pain and helping you remain clear-headed. You feel relaxed but not sedated when you take it.

What’s the Best Way to Take Medical Marijuana for Sinusitis?

You need to be aware of the various methods of delivery to make an educated decision about how to take your medicinal pot.

  • Smoking. Smoking is probably not a good idea when you have sinusitis as it will likely further irritate your sinuses.
  • Vaping. Vaping may also irritate your sinuses due to the smoke released during the process. However, if it appeals to you, this method of delivery is less harsh on your lungs than smoking and gives you instant relief. Start off small, inhale lightly and exhale immediately. Wait for a few minutes to give the pot time to work. If you need more, take another hit.
marijuana edibles
  • Edibles. You can buy all sorts edibles, or you can have a go at making your own. Pot-laced foods are an excellent choice if you don’t like inhaling. You can also carry these around with you to eat whenever you need to. A slight downside is that they can take longer to feel their effects than it does when you smoke or vaporize marijuana.
  • Sub-Lingual Sprays and Tinctures. You usually spray or squirt these under your tongue and wait for the solution to take effect.

These are just some of the most popular methods of taking pot. Ask your medical marijuana doctor for more advice on cannabis and sinusitis.

You may have tried a host of different medications and treatments for sinusitis but to no avail. If your sinusitis is not responding well to conventional antibiotic treatments and you believe you can benefit from the use of cannabis, we will help you find relief for your sinusitis. Search for a medical marijuana dispensary or doctor today to find natural symptom relief from sinusitis. It’s time to take back control of your health. 

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This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals.  If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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