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Can You Ease Sinus Woes by Avoiding Dairy?

One reader found that dropping dairy products eliminated sinus woes. Could this be a symptom of a food allergy?

Hay fever and other seasonal allergies can cause a lot of discomfort. The congestion such allergic reactions cause can lead to sinus woes that seem to last a long time. But what if the problem is not  simply seasonal and you end up with chronic sinus troubles? One reader found that changing the diet could make a big difference.

Overcoming Sinus Woes by Dumping Dairy:

Q. In recent articles you have addressed nasal issues causing painful sinuses and facial discomfort. Years ago, I used to wake up every morning with “face aches,” aka sinus pain. I went to different doctors who prescribed sulfa until I became allergic to it. Then I read an article that said many sinus woes are caused by an allergy to the milk protein casein.

I stopped drinking milk and have never had the “face aches” again. I use unsweetened almond “milk” for my morning oatmeal, and all is good.

A. There is a popular belief that consuming dairy products can contribute to nasal congestion. We have struggled to find research confirming this connection. We think, however, that people suffering with ongoing sinusitis might want to try switching to non-dairy beverages and foods as an experiment.

Allergies to Dairy Are Fairly Common:

A recent review demonstrates that more than 10 percent of US adults have food allergies, with shellfish and milk most common (Gupta et al, JAMA Network Open, Jan. 4, 2019).  People who suspect an allergy would do well to see a doctor about allergy testing.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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