The term catarrh denotes secretion of too much mucus. In fact, this is a very atypical word and not in use very much in contemporary times. Precisely speaking, catarrh means mucus secretions that are produced in the airway as well as sinuses. When people use the word catarrh to denote such secretions, they actually want to express the presence of surplus mucus. When there is an excessive secretion of such mucus, it generally points to some type of basic health conditions which are creating trouble.
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At times, people expand the meaning of catarrh to express that there is surplus production of mucus within the body. Several parts of our body are involved in producing secretions and when this takes place in excess, the condition may be described as catarrh. In fact, even the mucus produced in the vagina, which is generally a normal occurrence, may be included in a catarrh condition. Nevertheless, in a number of instances, the definition of catarrh is restricted only to the unusual production of mucus in the airway (respiratory tract) and sinus.
There are several reasons that may result in catarrh - for instance excessive mucus production in the respiratory tract and sinuses. In addition, there may be an accumulation of mucus owing to ailments caused by viral infections, such as common colds and/ or health disorders due to bacterial infections, for instance, sinusitis. There may also be excessive mucus production and secretion when an individual is suffering from specific forms of allergies, particularly when they suffer from hay fever. It is important to note that although catarrh is frequently related to nasal discharge, it may also simply develop within the respiratory tract and have its origin in inflamed airways.
Similar to the causes of catarrh, the symptoms related to this condition are also varied. Generally when people are affected by sinusitis they experience runny or stuffy nose and sometimes may also have itching in the nose. The presence of excessive mucus may also result in exerting pressure on the sinuses, which may be manifested in the form of headaches and/ or soreness of the face.
People with catarrh may experience a symptom known as postnasal drip wherein the secretions trickle down the throat. When this occurs, the individual may experience scratching or soreness in the throat and may require clearing his/ her throat quite frequently. In addition, the excessive mucus secreted may also exert some pressure on the ears, resulting in infections inside the ear. As the mucus secretion accumulates in the airway, it may result in too much coughing and eventually result in or aggravate conditions related to the respiratory tract, such as bronchitis, asthma, and/ or pneumonia.
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Treatment guidelines for catarrh are usually based on the fundamental causes. If one is suffering from too much stuffy nose, he/ she may use decongestants, or antihistamines or occasionally antibiotics to treat hay fever. In addition, such people may also like to use nasal rinses with a view to clear the build-up of excessive mucus secretion inside the nose, as doing so will ease the condition, albeit temporarily. However, if the person is suffering from cough or any type of pain in the ear, they will require more attention, because these conditions may possibly be an indication of infections.
While treating catarrh or taking a decision on whether you should visit a physician for treatment, you should consider a number of issues, especially the extent of uneasiness caused by the condition and the duration of the condition.
In fact, mucus secretions having a deep brown or greenish, or sometimes having a trace of blood usually suggest that the person is suffering from a further acute inflammatory reaction as well as infection. If you are suffering from fever, especially if it has been continuing for two or additional days, it is a warning that you need to visit a physician to cure your condition. Similarly, if the cough has deteriorated to such an extent that it is disturbing your sleep or making you feel that breathing has become difficult, it is essential for you to immediately check with a physician.
Generally, catarrh is a very widespread and bothersome health problem caused by any form of allergy or infections. Usually catarrh continues for a brief period and makes the sufferer feel very uncomfortable. In fact, catarrh may even occur in the form of a chronic condition in some people. Plenty of possible treatments for catarrh are available; especially those that are caused by allergies, and trying any of these or experimenting with them may possibly significantly help in easing the congestion of the nose or the airways.
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When one inhales contagious agents like bacteria or viruses or any irritant from the atmosphere, his/ her immune system releases leukocytes (white blood cells) to combat the irritants as well as the infection. Consequently, the leukocytes result in inflammation in the internal nasal lining and that of the throat causing them to produce mucus, which is a dense sticky fluid, to ensnare the germs and prevent them from getting inside the body. Such inflammations cause the nasal passage to become constricted making the sufferer experience congestion in his/ her nose. There are a number of agents that activate catarrh and some of them are mentioned below.
The most common agents that trigger catarrh include viral infections like flu and the common cold virus. Bacteria that infect the throat and tonsils are also responsible for occurrence of catarrh. In addition, people who have allergic reactions to dust mites, pollens and foods are also susceptible to catarrh. Other agents that trigger catarrh include air pollution, smoking, consumption of spicy foods and alcoholic beverages as well as nasal polyps. Sometimes weather changes are responsible for catarrh.
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Taking steam inhalants with or without essential oils only provide a short-term relief from catarrh problems. Hence, using herbs and supplements is more effective in providing long-term relief from the symptoms of catarrh. Apart from adding some leaves of each of eucalyptus (botanical name Eucalyptus globulus), peppermint (botanical name Mentha piperita) and chamomile flowers to one litre boiling water and inhaling the steam, you may try using any of the herbal infusions mentioned below for treating catarrh effectively.
Catmint (botanical name Nepeta cataria): Taking an infusion prepared with this herb is helpful in providing relief from nasal congestion and also enhancing circulation through the passages in the nose.
Elderflower (botanical name Sambucus nigra): This herbal infusion possesses anti-inflammatory attributes and is effective in diminishing the distension of the membranes as well as providing relief from excessive production and secretion of mucus.
Golden rod (botanical name Solidago virgaurea): Using an infusion prepared with this herb will help in toning the membranes as well as reduce surplus mucus production. In fact, it possesses anti-astringent properties.
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Hyssop (botanical name Hyssopus officinalis): This herb is especially excellent for slackening the dense phlegm. At the same time, it helps to normalize breathing and effectively provides relief from restiveness as well as sleeping disorders owing to breathing problems.
Ingesting garlic on a regular basis is extremely helpful in developing resistance against different types of respiratory infections. Ideally, garlic should be taken raw. As the strong smell of garlic will prevent others from getting close to you, it will also help to prevent the spread of cold. In effect, the malodorous garlic oil is most effective in combating/ preventing infections and roughly 99 per cent of this oil is expelled through the lungs and, hence, it has a very potent action on the respiratory system. People who loathe the smell of garlic may also take garlic capsules or pearls. While they are odourless, they are not as effective as the raw garlic.
In addition, it is recommended that people with catarrh should take vitamin C as well as zinc supplements. Drinking orange or lemon juice once or two times daily is also extremely helpful in treating catarrh. Both these juices are excellent natural remedies for this condition.
Aromatherapy is a wonderful means to treat catarrh, especially when an individual is suffering from extreme nasal congestion. In such conditions, the sufferer will get immediate relief if he/ she inhale a steam with essential oils. For immediate and temporary relief from congestion one may use peppermint essential oil, which is an effective decongestant.
For optimal results, it is advisable to use peppermint essential oil together with either tea tree or eucalyptus oil, as this will help to slacken the dense, viscid mucus and also combat infections, provided there is any. If you are seeking long-term relief from the problems caused by catarrh, it is advisable that you use pine oil, rather than peppermint, preferably blended with chamomile, tea tree or lavender oil.
Some people also turn to homeopathic remedies for treating catarrh. You too may consider any of the homeopathic remedies mentioned below.
Arsen Alb. is excellent for treating running, diluted catarrh accompanied with a trickling nose.
People who experience a continuous post-nasal drip will find Hydrastis beneficial. The post-nasal drip may possibly be related to the congested Eustachian tube, which connects the nose to the middle of the ear and may result in a somewhat deafness.
Pulsatilla an appropriate homeopathic remedy for treating chronic conditions, wherein the color of catarrh is different from time to time changing from limpid to a greenish-yellow.
Kali Bich. is appropriate for people who suffer from dense, gristly mucus, which cannot be removed easily.
Apart from using conventional remedies, inhalants, herbs and supplements, aromatherapy and homeopathy, you may also try a number of natural remedies whose effectiveness has been established to treat catarrh. While these natural remedies are effective in easing your problems, they do not give rise to any adverse side effects.
First of all, you need to stay away from all foods which make you susceptible to allergic reactions or catarrh. For instance, you should avoid taking dairy products, sugar, all processed foods and white flour bread at least for the first few days after developing catarrh.
At the same time, it is important for you to drink plenty of water, fruit juices, and herbal teas as well as consume lots of fresh vegetables and fruits for at least one day. On the subsequent day you should eat rice and vegetables, but very little chicken and other foods containing proteins. While preparing your food, ensure that you add enough onion and garlic, as these vegetables are very effective natural decongestants.
Inhale steam with a view to clear the congested nasal passage. Preferably, you should add some drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the hot water prior to inhaling its steam.
Specific herbs, such as goldenseal, possess natural aptitude to ease the symptoms related to catarrh. It would be beneficial if you took powdered goldenseal in the form of capsules once daily, especially when you have nasal catarrh.
You may use tepid saline water to gargle when you are suffering from inflamed tonsils and throat. Salt possesses anti-bacterial attributes. You may also use nasal saline drops or nasal saline spray to ease nasal congestion.
It is best to inhale steam and also use homemade saline nasal drops or spray to alleviate catarrh. Put some hot water in a bowl and breathe in the steam. Adding some drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the hot water and inhaling its steam will provide better results. Make a saline solution just by adding one teaspoon of salt to one glass of water. You may use this saline solution in the form of a nasal spray or a nasal drop. Use a few drops of this saline solution every time and use it at intervals of about an hour.