Ten home remedies to relieve sinus pain and pressure

This article originally ran as a blog post in Allina Health’s Healthy, Set, Go. It was authored by Jessica Dehler, Physician Assistant (PA-C). Jessica specializes in family medicine and sees patients at the Allina Health Dean Lakes Clinic in Shakopee. Read more stories like this at allinahealth.org/healthysetgo.

The pressure is building in your forehead, your nose is running, and you just don’t feel good. You suspect that you may have a sinus infection, or sinusitis. Most sinus infections will resolve themselves in seven to 10 days, just by taking care of yourself at home. Here are the top 10 at-home treatments to help alleviate sinusitis symptoms and get rid of your sinus infection faster.

Flush. Use a Neti pot, a therapy that uses a salt and water solution, to flush your nasal passages. Nasal irrigation using the Neti pot has been a tried-and-true method for centuries. I have patients who swear by Neti pots and will use them daily or weekly to keep their sinuses flowing well. Remember to only use distilled water.

Spray. Use an over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray that contains salt water to help keep your nasal passages moist, unblock congestion and treat inflammation. Some sprays, like Afrin®, can only be used for a maximum of three days. If you exceed three days, you will get “rebound” or worse nasal congestion. Other nasal sprays, like fluticasone, are more effective the longer you use them.

Hydrate. Drink a lot of fluids–water and/or juice–to help thin your mucus. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, which can cause dehydration.

Rest. Get plenty of rest to help your body fight infection and speed up recovery. While you sleep, prop yourself up with a couple of pillows. Staying elevated can help you breathe more comfortably.

Steam. Breathe in steam from a pot or bowl of warm (not too hot!) water, or take a hot shower. You can also place a warm wet towel on your face followed by a cool towel to help alleviate sinus pain and open your nasal passages.

Spice. Eat spicy foods to help clear your nasal passages. Add hot peppers, hot sauce, horseradish or wasabi to your meal.

Add humidity. Use a humidifier or vaporizer in your room while you sleep to add moisture to the air and help reduce congestion. Dry air, tobacco smoke and chlorinated water can irritate the mucus membranes in your nose and create an environment ripe for sinus infections.

OTC medication. Take over-the-counter deconges- tants, antihistamines (if allergies are the culprit) and pain relievers to reduce sinus pain and pressure. Be sure to check with your doctor first if you have any health issues or take other medicines. Never give decongestants or any over-the-counter cold medicine to children under age 4. Nasal suction is the best form of “decongesting” for young children. This also reduces post-nasal drip and overall lung irritation.

C is key. Up your intake of vitamin C. This may help fight off infection faster, reduce sinus inflammation and relieve the duration of a cold and cold symptoms.

Know your triggers. Know what can trigger a cold and be prepared. Start taking an antihistamine prior to allergy season or use a Neti pot right away at the onset of a cold.

When should I see a doctor?

If your sinus symptoms are not getting better with at-home treatments and if your sinus symptoms last longer than seven to 10 days, you should see a doctor for treatment options.

If you have frequent or reoccurring sinus infections, you may want to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT, otolaryngologist) for your treatment options.


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