A common cold or infection can lead to inflammation of the paranasal sinuses. The symptoms of pressure, blockage, discharge and other miseries can last anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks. Here are some tips you can try at home to relieve the pain.
An over-the-counter (OTC) nasal spray can give relief from nasal congestion and the pressure build-up inside of the sinuses. Look for oxymetazoline (Afrin), phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine), naphazoline (Naphcon), and chlorzoxazone (Forte). These work the fastest, often giving relief in three minutes. The nasal spray is designed to reduce swelling, relieving pressure and clearing the airway. Do not use nasal sprays for more than three days in a row. They become less effective and can be habit forming. One suggestion is to do what is called "rebounding." Spray into only one nostril each time you dose. Then alternate between nostrils when dosing. The medication is still effective, and you will use less.
The nasal cavity and sinuses are sensitive to dry air. A humidifier will return moisture to the air and soothe symptoms. This is especially helpful if you are in a dry climate, or in winter when dry, heated air is used to warm houses. If you are prone to sinusitis, using a humidifier during dry times of the year will often prevent infection.
Hot Water Bath
Much like the humidifier's affects, taking a hot water bath decongests the sinus area and liquefies the mucus accumulated inside.
If you don't have time for a luxurious bath, a steamy shower can help, too. Even better, inhaling the vapors from a pan full of steamy hot water with a towel or cloth wrapped around your head to create a tent will help clear the nostrils, thus opening the nasal passages. Try including a piece of onion to the water or 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil and inhale the vapor for additional help.
Hot and Cold Compress
Especially useful for sinus headaches, alternating between a hot and cold compress placed directly over the sinuses can reduce swelling and provide relief from pressure.
Massage your eyebrows, especially in the middle of the brow, in a circular motion using your fingertips for about 15-20 seconds at a time. The massage can be repeated to get relief from pressure build-up. Enlist the services of your spouse or partner for added relaxation!
Drinking lots of fluids including water, both hot and cold, will thin out the mucus accumulated inside the nasal passages. Hot tea with fenugreek, anise, or fennel added to it will help to thin out the mucus even more.
Watch Your Diet
Starchy or fried foods like white sugar, rice, pasta, pies, cakes, and candies can irritate sinuses. Stick to fresh veggies and fruits that have the added bonus of returning natural fluids to the body. Diets rich in vitamin A help build and maintain healthy mucus membranes.
Because sinusitis is often the result of an infection, if your symptoms persist, it is always best to seek professional sinus treatments. Antibiotics prescribed by your physician will often be the best course of action to relieve your symptoms.