Your Go-To Guide To Surviving Sinusitis Season

While many medication treat the symptoms, vibrations created from chanting Om can help clear your sinusitis and ward off infections from its source.
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While many medication treat the symptoms, vibrations created from chanting Om can help clear your sinusitis and ward off infections from its source.
yoga pose in bed

While many medication treat the symptoms, vibrations created from chanting Om can help clear your sinusitis and ward off infections from its source.

Yogis have traditionally chanted the mantra "Om" to help with focusing the mind. However, this simple and most primal of chants may serve an important side benefit, particularly during winter months: The sound vibrations may help keep your sinuses healthy.

This news comes from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where the researchers Jon Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg discovered that humming can help to ventilate and open the sinuses. When they tested 10 men, they found that humming increased nitric oxide levels fifteenfold, compared to quiet exhalations without sound. The exhalations of people with healthy sinuses tend to have high nitric oxide levels, indicating that more air is able to flow between the sinuses and the nose.

The two researchers defined humming simply as exhaling with sound while the mouth is closed; they say that chanting "Om" produces the same effects. Chanting and humming both create sound vibrations, which encourage air to move back and forth between your sinus membranes and nasal passages. This air movement then opens tiny ducts, or ostia, that connect your nose to your sinuses, allowing your sinuses to drain properly.

Your sinuses consist of four pairs of air-filled cavities behind and around your nose and your eyes. They filter the air you breathe, keeping germs from getting into your lungs. To combat germs, such as the viruses that cause the common cold, your sinus membranes swell. Sometimes in response to these germs your sinuses can swell so that the ostia become blocked. Once these are blocked, the mucus cannot drain properly. Bacteria begin to breed inside the sinuses, causing a condition which is known as sinusitis.

Sinusitis affects approximately 37 million Americans each year; numbers are climbing in step with air pollution and antibiotic resistance. Common symptoms include facial pain and colored nasal discharge. Once you develop a case of sinusitis, you usually require antibiotics to cure it. However, daily humming or "Om" chanting may prevent such an infection from actually taking hold, according to Lundberg, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at Karolinska Institute.

"It is logical that daily periods of humming would be beneficial," he says. "The sinuses are effectively ventilated by humming. Previous research shows that poor sinus ventilation increases the risk for sinusitis."

In addition to daily chanting, you can also use a humidifier, as warm, moist air helps to lubricate your nasal and sinus passages and to thin mucus secretions. Many practitioners of Ayurveda also partake in a daily saline nasal washing using a neti pot to clean their nasal passages.

See also How To Decide If You Should Keep Practicing Yoga While Sick