Sinusitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, and the average sinus infection will clear up on its own within about two or three weeks. These cases are known as acute infections due to their relatively short duration. However, some people go on to develop chronic sinusitis, which is diagnosed if the condition lasts for longer than two months or constantly reoccurs.
If you’ve ever experienced either type of sinusitis, you’ll know just how uncomfortable it can be. The pain is often severe, especially behind the nose as well as around the eyes. In some cases, the pain also spreads to the forehead, or to the upper jaws. Most patients also notice a green or yellow discharge from the nose, which not only impairs breathing through the nose but can also cause a constant tickling or irritation in the throat when the mucus drains down from your sinuses.
You may also start coughing and suffer from intermittent fever, a sore throat, and a pounding headache. Since many of the symptoms of a sinus infection are common to both the acute and chronic forms, it’s wise to see your doctor find out more about the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.
Meanwhile, the good news is that there are plenty of home remedies you can use to relieve pain, clear congestion, and reduce your recovery time. In many cases, you may find that your sinusitis clears up without the need for any prescription drugs.
Steam Inhalation for Sinus Pressure
Breathing in steam is not just effective for treating sinusitis; it is also a tried and true way to reduce the congestion associated with an upper respiratory infection. The process can help to significantly thin mucus and drain the sinuses, easily the symptoms of congestion, and potentially shortening the duration of your illness. As a bonus, steaming is also used to help get rid of impurities in the skin, so this home remedy might give you a clearer complexion as well!
All you need to do is boil water in a saucepan and transfer it to a large bowl before covering your head in a towel and lower it over the basin. The cloth should create a tent to keep your face surrounded by steam. Some people find the heat overwhelming at first, but if you can stand the first minute or so then you will find that you adjust to the intense humidity. Breathe in and out through your nose, taking deep and slow breaths for up to ten minutes. When you emerge from under the towel, you should notice a marked difference in your ability to inhale and exhale through the nose.
To make the treatment even more effective, you can add essential oil with decongestant properties. Just a few drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, sage, or wintergreen will make the steam even better at draining your sinuses. However, note that if you have very sensitive skin then you might benefit from wearing an eye mask during the steaming treatment; it will protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
Cayenne Pepper for Sinus
Cayenne pepper is a common staple in the herbs and spices cabinet due to its ability to add flavorful heat to dishes. However, it’s also a very popular ingredient in home remedies, and one such remedy can be used to target the main symptoms of both chronic and acute sinusitis.
The active ingredient in cayenne pepper is a compound called capsaicin, and it can help to ease your suffering in a couple of different ways. Firstly, it thins mucus to make breathing easier. If your sinus infection is accompanied by a frustrating and unproductive attempts to blow your nose, cayenne could just be the solution to your problems. In addition, it is known to relieve the pain of a sinus headache, even when it extends to the jaw area or is felt in the ears. Studies have also shown a link between capsaicin and a reduction in the pain associated with cluster headaches, tension headaches, and even certain types of migraines.
To take advantage of the potent capsaicin in cayenne pepper, try making a spicy tea. Simply mix half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you have a high tolerance for spice) into a cup of boiling water and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Inhale the steam while it’s hot, and then drink the liquid like a tea when it comes down a little. Some drugstores also carry capsaicin nasal sprays, which aim to reduce irritation and are said to be useful for allergy symptoms as well as sinusitis.
Saline Rinse for Colds
A saline rinse (sometimes called a saline lavage or irrigation) can be used to help thin out the mucus that quickly builds up during a sinus infection, and it is very effective at clearing out the sinuses. Some people also believe that a saline rinse can help to prevent any sinus infection from spreading to the other nostril. As a bonus, it helps to keep the mucus membranes inside the nose moist, which can decrease your discomfort during illness.
You start by dissolving a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of warm water. Ideally, you should use water that was boiled, so that it is sterile, but it will need to cool for a while before it’s appropriate to use for a saline rinse (because the water should never be hot). Once the saltwater is ready, use a rubber bulb syringe or a Neti Pot to transfer the solution to your nostrils.
Tilt your head over the sink, with one ear facing the basin, then pour the saline rinse into the top nostril and allow it to flow into the sinus cavity and out the other nostril. Hold up your head and blow out the remaining liquid and mucus, then repeat the process on the other side.
You may find it uncomfortable to do a saline rinse the first few times, and you should be aware that some people report a mild burning sensation. However, this should be easier to tolerate after the first few times you do this type of irrigation.
Horseradish Sinus Remedy
Horseradish is a popular medicinal plant with mild antibiotic effects thanks to the allyl isothiocyanate that it contains. As such, it can be used to form the basis of a wide range of home remedies for common infections (including bacterial sinusitis). A further property that makes horseradish especially suitable for sinusitis sufferers is that it can boost facial circulation and promote the discharge of mucus, helping to clear blocked airways.
To make a horseradish-based remedy for the discomfort of a sinus infection, get hold of large horseradish root and grate it into fine pieces. Next, add a full tablespoon of honey and the juice of one lemon, and stir the ingredients until they are well combined. Store the mixture in a sealed jar, and take one tablespoon four times a day. Other people prefer to combine horseradish with apple cider vinegar, but the honey component of the traditional remedy is incredibly soothing on a raw throat.
An alternative approach is to put one teaspoon of grated horseradish in your mouth and hold it there for as long as possible. This can help to clear your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. When the flavor of the horseradish dissipates, you can swallow it to assist your body in clearing mucus at the back of your throat. It is also worth noting that horseradish is packed full of vitamin C, which gives you a further reason to try these remedies. As you probably know, vitamin C helps to support immune system function and may improve your resistance to disease.
Raw Garlic and Sinus Infections
Garlic is famous for its potent medicinal properties, and some of them are especially relevant to treating sinus infection. Allicin and other sulfur compounds are found in garlic, and they have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. They can help fight a sinus infection while relieving swelling in the nasal passages.
Unfortunately, these compounds are degraded when garlic is cooked. This means that you have to turn to raw garlic if you’re going to get the benefits you need. To get the most from your garlic, try to find some great recipes that incorporate it in its raw form. Some people prefer to just chew on raw garlic cloves, but if you don’t have the stomach for that then there are plenty of other ways to get your garlic fix. For example, you can make a tasty topping for bread. Just peel three cloves and finely chop them to release the allicin, then add a little olive oil and salt and spread the mixture onto crusty bread.
Alternatively, you can toss chopped garlic cloves in a dressing. One popular approach involves a cup of raw apple cider vinegar, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of basil, two cups of olive oil, and about half a teaspoon of onion powder. You can mix this up with just about any salad and it will taste great. It also keeps for a while in the fridge, so you can make double the amount and use it as a staple for the next few weeks.
Turmeric for Respiratory Infections
Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that can help to reduce swelling. As such, it is found in a lot of home remedies for the pain associated with inflammatory diseases like arthritis and ulcerative colitis. However, it can also be very useful when you’re suffering from a sinus infection, due to the swelling in your sinus cavities. Turmeric also acts as a decongestant.
There are loads of different ways to get turmeric into your body, and one of the most enjoyable approaches is to make a turmeric smoothie. Try blending a three-inch piece of fresh turmeric root with a ripened banana, a cup of water, and honey to taste. Swallowing the smoothie will ensure that the turmeric comes into contact with any swelling in your throat as well, making it the perfect home remedy whenever you’re suffering from an upper respiratory infection (not just sinusitis).
If the fresh root is not available, you can substitute two or three teaspoons of powdered turmeric. It’s also a great spice to make a habit of using in your cooking, with its warm spicy flavor adding a tasty kick to rice-based dishes and curries. It’s also worth noting that you can get turmeric capsules in some health food stores and that taking these could be useful if you have chronic sinusitis in particular. However, you should avoid these supplements if you’re taking medications that slow blood clotting (such as anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs). Turmeric can make these drugs more potent, raising the risk of excessive bleeding.
Cold and Hot Compress for Sinus Pressure
There are mixed messages out there when it comes to whether heat or coldness is best for a sinus condition. That’s because both approaches actually have something significant to offer! As such, the smartest thing you can do is use a hot compress at some points and then a cold one.
The cold compress will help to reduce some of the pain that you feel, while heat is great at bringing down the inflammation. Using compresses can also help to loosen mucus in the nasal passages, which in turn makes it easier to breathe and can help you recover more quickly.
Soak a towel in hot water, ring it out and place it over your eyes and nose for three minutes. Then switch to a cold compress for 30 seconds. Continue to alternate the compresses until you feel relief. You can repeat this process up to six times a day during the peak of a sinus infection, and it can be highly effective.
As well as helping with the nasal symptoms, a hot compress on the forehead is very good at calming the pain of a sinus headache.
Some people also suggest adding certain essential oils to a moist compressed, so that their smell can help with some of the major symptoms. Peppermint or tea tree oil can help to improve your breathing, while something soothing like lavender can help to relax you and make it easier to sleep through your sinusitis at night.
Eucalyptus Oil Sinus Infection
Eucalyptus oil contains a compound called cineole, which is a nasal decongestant and a respiratory anti-inflammatory. You can use it to make a skin treatment that also gives off medicinal vapors. Simply stir a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a tablespoon of olive oil, and then apply the oil to the swollen, sensitive areas of your face. You can also gently apply some along the edges of your nostrils so you can breathe in the cooling vapors.
There are a few other ways to use eucalyptus oil to help your troubled sinuses. You can mix 5-8 drops of it with a bowl of boiling water and use it to make a stream treatment (as discussed earlier). However, you can also buy eucalyptus oil extract capsules, and taking this could help with the symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis.
For example, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the oil has powerful antibacterial properties and is an expectorant when swallowed (which means that it helps to loosen up the mucus buildup characteristic of sinus infections).
You should always discuss eucalyptus oil supplements with your doctor before taking them, as they are known to interact with a wide range of common medications (such as anti-diabetes drugs, and drugs are broken down by the liver). And if your doctor does approve your use of eucalyptus oil, you should still be vigilant about side effects.
The good news is that you can get the best of the oil without having to take the supplements; a steam bath or facial treatment can work wonders.
Apple Cider Vinegar Sinus Wash
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly versatile. You’ll likely have seen it as an ingredient in homemade cleaning products, but it’s also a common ingredient in natural remedies for a wide range of health problems.
Those with sinus infections can benefit from the antiseptic properties of apple cider vinegar, which helps to infection. In addition, apple cider vinegar contains a hefty dose of potassium, which eases mucus formation. After you’ve used a commercial nasal spray, you can recycle the empty bottle to apply a fine mist of vinegar to your nasal passages.
First, sterilize the spray bottle in boiling water to ensure that it’s clean and fresh. Next, pour in a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar then fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake to combine. Spritz the solution up your nostrils up to three times a day, and notice the difference it can make to your breathing.
You can also make an apple cider vinegar drink that may reduce the major symptoms of sinusitis. Combine two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with about six ounces of lukewarm water and some stevia to improve the taste. You can drink this twice a day, or even gargle it to help your throat.
The antiseptic properties will help to kill off bacteria in the painful tissue, and the anti-inflammatory nature of apple cider vinegar can help to bring down the swelling. Some people also swear by this very same remedy for allergies, partly because apple cider vinegar is a natural antihistamine.
Massage Your Sinuses
Finally, it’s worth considering a simple face massage whenever you have sinusitis. This can help to unblock your nose and provide temporary relief from sinus pain, and you can administer the massage by yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Use both your index fingers to apply rotating pressure to your forehead, at the inner corners of your eyebrows. After about 20 seconds, move your fingers down and continue the rotating massage on either side of the bridge of your nose. Next, apply pressure to your cheekbones.
Stroke your face from cheekbones to ears, and use your index fingers to push down behind the earlobes. If you find this helps, you can repeat the process every couple of hours to ease your pain. You can also have a partner or family member do the massage for you if you find it difficult to do by yourself or want to feel more able to relax into the sensation.
As you can see, there are plenty of fantastic home remedies at your disposal when you have sinusitis (whether you’re struggling with the acute or chronic form of the condition). With the help of these innovative and straightforward approaches, you should find your symptoms dissipating.
However, whenever you think you have a case of sinusitis, it’s always important to have the diagnosis confirmed by your doctor. After all, it’s possible that you’re suffering from some other health problem that might need different treatments. In addition, if your sinusitis doesn’t get better within a few weeks, return to the doctor just to confirm the diagnosis and register that you’ve developing a chronic case of the condition.