Do you dread change in season because it always triggers a sinusitis attack? Do you fear those 4-10 days of extreme discomfort when your nose seems to launch a World War III attack on your body? Millions of people worldwide are acute or chronic sufferers of sinusitis.
Sinusitis: What and How?
Whether Acute (lasting for less than four weeks) or Chronic (lasting for more than four weeks), sinusitis means an inflammation (-itis) of the lining of the sinuses. The skeletal system has air pockets in many places of the body; the facial bones have three pairs of sinuses. When these sinuses are dry, they are completely unnoticeable. If for some reason, they become filled with liquid and bacteria, viruses or fungi, the result is a painful attack of sinusitis.
The main symptoms of sinusitis are:
- Pain in the face (around the eyes, forehead and the cheek bones)
- Sneezing fits
- Nasal discharge and congestion (yellowish-green)
- Loss of the sense of smell (and subsequently, sense of taste)
- Low grade fever
- Sensitivity to light
- Redness and watering of the eyes
- Dental pain (sometimes)
All in all, this is a very painful and uncomfortable infection that anyone would be glad to get rid of it as soon as possible. Most doctors treat a sinusitis infection with antihistamines, painkillers and antipyretics (for fever). They also prescribe taking steam and bed rest. In rare cases, where sinusitis has become extreme, the doctor drains the sinuses of any built up fluid, surgically.
Sinusitis: How can you help yourself?
Though doctors can prescribe good OTC medications for sinusitis infections, you too can take palliative measures and home remedies to help you get over this nasty infection. It is wise to see a doctor if your symptoms persist even after a week of trying these sinusitis home remedies.
1. Know your Triggers:
Different factors can trigger a sinus infection in different people. It may be a change in seasons, exposure to the sun, a cold, hay fever, allergies, etc. If you see a pattern of triggers that always brings you down with a sinus infection, avoid them. As with every other illness, prevention is better than cure
Sinusitis becomes aggravated by dry air. Make sure you sleep and rest in a room with enough humidity. Too much humidity again can actually make the infection worse by giving the microorganisms a breeding ground. If you use a humidifier, place it close to your bed. If you normally use a vaporizer, ensure that you use it at least 3-4 times a day to keep that nasal passage comfortably moist.
3. Stay Cool:
It is no rocket science that exposure to too much heat will dry up the nasal passages and sinuses. Dryness of the sinuses and nose aggravates and/or triggers a sinus infection. Steer clear of the sun in hot, dry weather. During colder weather, do not overheat the room temperature. It is better to keep the room temperature a little low and put on woolens rather than keeping it at 28 degrees and wearing just a T-shirt.
If you live in a permanently air conditioned and shuttered up house, there are many other infections that can set in besides sinusitis. Never ignore the benefits of fresh air. Open the windows and doors on days that are warm even if it is for just 30 minutes. Allow all the stale air to be eliminated. If you work in a 24/7 air conditioned office, you can’t open the windows; instead you can go out during breaks to get that much needed fresh air.
5. Detox your Surroundings:
Many times, it is not just the weather that triggers a sinus infection. Household chemicals may also be behind your sinus woes. Find out if irritants like passive (or active) cigarette smoke, household cleaners, deodorants, hairsprays, pet hair are aggravating your sinusitis. Try to eliminate the irritant and replace it with something organic.
6. Stay Hydrated:
We can never say enough about the many benefits of water. Stay hydrated to avoid dryness from within. Have your daily recommended 8-10 glasses of (non-cold) water, drink hot fluids like tea and soups, and take hot showers or steam. Water is good for your sinus infection in any of these forms. Avoid alcohol and coffee as they are both dehumidifiers and will cause the throat and nasal passages to dry up and cause a lot of discomfort.
Home Remedies for Sinusitis:
7. The Neti Pot:
Is it all a big hue and cry over nothing? No, the neti pot works in a sure shot way for sinus infections. The Neti pot kind of looks like a small teapot with a long, thin spout and can be purchased at most drugstores easily. To use it, take some distilled water at room temperature or slightly tepid water and add a teaspoon of common salt to it in the Neti pot. Now tilt your head sideways over a wash basin. Place the tip of the pot’s spout in the nostril facing up and gently pour in the saline solution. The solution will flow in the upper nostril and drain out from the second one. You might get some in your throat as well. This will drain, humidify and disinfect your sinuses and bring down the painful inflammation. It is a time-tested method, though it might seem very uncomfortable at first.
Some additives for the Neti pot: Besides a simple saline solution, here are some other things you can add to the Neti pot and use very effectively:
- A few drops of Betadine or Providone Iodine
- Apple cider vinegar
- An OTC anti-microbial solution
- Sea salt
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Oil of Oregano
8. Nasal Flushing:
This is the Western alternative to the Neti pot which originated from Indian Yoga. To do a nasal flush, make a saline solution as mentioned above, again in tepid or cool water. You may also add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the sting of the salt. Now fill a bulb syringe with this solution and flush your nostrils with it gently. Stand over a sink as this will expel water and built up mucus. Take care not to blow your nose too hard as that dries up the sinuses too much and can cause extreme pain.
9. Steam It Up:
For mild sinus infections, nothing works better than a few minutes of warm, moist, wonderful steam. Believe me, you will feel like a new person each time you take steam inhalation. To do this right, use a vaporizer available at most chemist shops or a pan from the kitchen.
Fill hot water in the utensil and sit crossed-leg on the bed. Now cover your head and torso over the pan with a thick sheet of big towel so that it makes a sort of ‘tent’. Next, bask in the glorious steam, inhale and exhale deeply from the nose (this might be difficult to do with a stuffy nose; it will become possible as the steam opens the nose up). Inhale the steam for about 5-8 minutes, taking care not to blow your nose wildly into a tissue. Rather, wipe away any discharge with a tissue to avoid aggravating the infected sinuses. When you finish, don’t uncover the face and chest immediately. Lie down for about 10 minutes, wrapping the same sheet or towel around your head and chest like a shawl. This is the perfect home remedies for sinus cold, pain, headache & all other sinusitis symptoms.
Various things to enhance the steam inhalation process: To add to the curative power of the steam inhalation, you can add a little quantity of the following to the steaming water:
- Essential oils of eucalyptus, pine, or rosemary (they help in reducing headache and act as natural decongestion agents)
- A commercial decongestant balm
- Sea salt (it has disinfectant properties)
- Tea tree oil
- Chopped or mashed Onion!
- Thyme oil
- Crushed garlic
Touted by generations as a great cure for sinus infections, black or herbal teas work well by giving you the moisture your sinuses and throat need. There are many natural additives that you can add to the tea to enhance its efficacy. Some of these variants are:
- Mashed garlic cloves
- Thyme leaves
- Sage leaves
- Lemon juice
- Crushed ginger
- Cinnamon powder
- Lemongrass leaves (just about 2-3)
These teas should be sipped and not gulped. They provide relief by either acting as an anti-microbial agent or by giving medicated steam. Remember not to add any milk, as dairy products often act as triggers of allergies and can worsen your sinus problems.
11. Acupressure Point:
Another simple home remedy for sinusitis is to apply acupressure at the point recommended for the sinuses. Place your thumb at the point where your eyebrows would meet if they were extended. Now apply gentle but steady pressure at this point for about 30 seconds. Relieve the pressure and then re-do it for about 5-8 times. You will feel relief from the headache and facial pain almost immediately.
12. Nasal Swabs:
Applying a palliative herb to the insides of the nostrils with a cotton swab can also give you some relief. You can try the following and find out what works best for you as all sinus infections react differently to different remedies:
- Tea tree oil
- Cayenne pepper (just a tiny dab or else it will sting a lot)
- OTC nasal sprays
- A small quantity of a mentholated vapor rub
13. Hot and Cold Compresses:
To relieve the facial pain that is the bane of sinusitis sufferers, you can take a bowl of hot water and another of cool water (not ice-cold or chilled water). Take two washcloths and dip them in either bowls. Now take the hot, moist towel, squeeze it and place it on your head. Tilt your head back and let it rest there for a minute. When it begins to feel cold, replace it with the cold water washcloth. Let the cold towel also rest there for about a minute. You can give yourself alternating treatment of warm steam for moisture and a cold compress for bringing down the swelling and pain. You will surely find relief with this best home remedies for sinus headache!
14. Load up on Vitamins:
Vitamin D3 has special properties that keep infections away. Add Vitamin D3 to your diet by taking pills and get a lot of sunshine during the days you fear you will get a sinus infection. You can also buy OTC Vitamin D3 drops. Another thing that works is taking a diet rich in Vitamin C as it is your body’s immune system reinforcer. If you want, you can also take large doses of Vitamin C tablets.
15. Onion Poultice:
Thinking I’m from the Middle Age? I’m not! This remedy really works. At bedtime, slice or dice an onion and wrap the pieces in a piece of gauze or any light cloth. Tie this cloth around your neck for the night. The onion has very strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and soon you will find relief from your headache, blocked nose and ears, and stuffy nose. You might even find yourself expelling nasal mucus.
These sinusitis home remedies and preventive measures do not guarantee a 100% cure from sinusitis for life; they can give you relief from your current infection. Make sure you take proper measures to protect yourself from burns while taking steam inhalation as too much direct contact with steam can and will cause severe burns. Also, while using the Neti pot, take care not to place the spout too far into the nostril as it might cause injury. With all home remedies, taking ample rest and a lot of fluids is a constant. I hope you will definitely find the home remedy for sinusitis that works best for your case.