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March 19, 2018

7 Home Remedies for Sinus Infection

home remedies for sinus infection
artwork courtesy of Pixabay

Few things are as miserable as a sinus infection. Your head feels like it’s being squeezed in a vise, your nose is congested, and your throat feels raw. Antibiotics are the standard course of treatment for a sinus infection. However, there are many home remedies for sinus infection that can relieve your congestion and other symptoms. In fact, most sinus infections clear up without prescriptions of any kind.

The following remedies can help you get relief and recover from a painful sinus infection. Just remember that this is not a definitive list. If you have a serious infection, you should still seek a doctor’s care to avoid potentially serious complications.

#1. Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation is one of the most effective home remedies for sinus infection and congestion. It’s also easy to do. This process involves flushing out your sinuses with a saline solution and a neti pot or bulb syringe.

Create your own saline solution by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sea salt and a pinch of baking soda in 1 pint of filtered or distilled water. Do not use tap water or table salt. Standing over a sink, squirt the saline solution into one nostril while your head is tilted so it can flow out of your other nostril. This process can flush away bacteria that can contribute to an infection.

Just make sure you are using your neti pot as recommended. These products are safe when used properly, but they must be used only with sterile or distilled water and sterilized between uses. Never use tap water as it has low levels of bacteria and amoebas that are safe to ingest but may cause a life-threatening infection in the sinuses.

#2. Bromelain

Bromelain is a natural extract made from pineapple stems with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This solution has been used by fighters for years to reduce swelling and research backs up that it can be effective at reducing nasal passage swelling. According to one study, bromelain helped people who suffered from chronic rhinosinusitis or sinus inflammation.

Talk to your doctor before taking bromelain. It can interfere with certain medications, including ACE inhibitors and blood thinners. As one of the most popular home remedies for sinus infection, bromelain should be taken as a standard dose of 200 to 800 mg between meals.

#3. Steam Your Sinuses

Steam is an effective way to moisten sinuses and relieve congestion. The easiest way to steam your sinuses clear is taking a hot shower.

The best way to steam your sinuses is filling a sink basin with very hot water. Add a few drops of methol or eucalyptus oil. Lean over the sink and drape a towel over your head to help retain the steam. This will have a more concentrated effect than taking a hot shower.

#4. Alternate Cold and Warm Compresses

One of the best home remedies for sinus infection is also the simplest: switching between warm and cold compresses. Warmth can loosen secretions in the nasal passages. However, alternating between cold and warmth is best for relieving sinus pressure and pain.

Recline somewhere comfortable with a hot damp washcloth across your sinuses for a few minutes. Afterward, replace the washcloth with a cold compress for about a minute. Alternate a few times and repeat up to several times a day.

#5. Capsaicin

Capsaicin, the primary component in hot peppers responsible for their heat, has long been used as a remedy for arthritis pain. Research also suggests it can help clear the sinuses and relieve sinititus symptoms.

Capsaicin is one of the most versatile home remedies for sinus infection as it can be added to your diet or used as a spray as needed. It’s believed to work by reducing the body’s pain perception. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve sinusitis symptoms and infection.

According to one study, using a capsaicin nasal spray is safe and an effective way to treat non-allergic rhinitis, or nasal inflammation and pain. Taking cayenne pepper capsules during meals may also help clear up a sinus infection.

#6. Avoid Triggers

There are many things that can trigger sinus pain and worsen an infection. For instance, you should avoid over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays. These can offer relief for a few days but make pressure in your sinuses worse.

You may also notice an increase in pain and pressure with alcohol, diving, and swimming. To reduce exposure to allergens that can worsen symptoms, clean your dehumidifier and wash your bedding.

#7. Use a Humidifier

Increasing the humidity in your room is an effective treatment for sinus infection and congestion. That’s because thick, dry mucus in the sinuses can block drainage and trap bacteria and viruses. Increasing the humidity in your air increases the amount of fluid that enters your body and nasal passages to thin out and clear mucus. Using a humidifier is considered good for sinus health, especially in the winter when the air gets cold and dry.

There are several types of humidifiers you can use in your home. A central humidifier is built into your AC system for whole-home treatment, or you can use a portable model in your bedroom.

For the best effect, use the humidifier with distilled water only. Don’t allow your indoor humidity to exceed 50%, which can increase mold spores and dust mites in the air. Make sure the humidifier is cleaned regularly to keep mold and bacteria from growing in the water.

Final Thoughts

Most sinus infections clear up on their own. The American Academy of Otolaryngology also recommends using home remedies for sinus infection as part of a “wait and see” approach. That’s because antibiotics are only effective in about 2% of cases. If your symptoms don’t improve or you develop a fever, it’s a sign you should see a doctor.

What’s your favorite remedy for sinus infection and pressure? Leave a comment and share your thoughts, including techniques that do and do not work for you.

Image source: 1, 2, 3

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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