Sinus pain and pressure is a common ailment almost everyone has suffered from at least once in their lifetime. To put it in numbers, 37 million Americans have sinus problems every year. And these are just the ones that go to the doctor or the pharmacist for help. There are millions more who decide to treat themselves, at home, using natural sinus pressure relief remedies or simply ‘sleep it off’ as doctors put it.
No matter into which category you fall, you should know that sinus problems are quite serious and should not be taken lightly. Even so, there is no need to run directly to antibiotics at the first sign of trouble. There are a lot of things you can do on your own, which is why we have put together this guide, to walk you through the best 10 home remedies for sinus pressure relief.
Understanding the biology of sinuses
Before we can speak about treatments and medicine, we need to delve into what sinuses are, where are they located, and how they work. Apart from that, it’s imperative for you to try and determine what is the actual cause of your sinus trouble. The reason is that the cure depends on it. Sinusitis can be caused by allergies, hay fever or severe infections, just to name the major categories. Curing it will mean different approaches, ranging from taking a steam to a full-blown antibiotic treatment. Therefore, here are the basic things you need to know about sinuses and how they work.
Simply put, sinuses are 8 hollow cavities located in the skull. They are normally paired, two by two. The largest of them measure approximately 1 inch across while the others are rather smaller. The pairs include:
- The maxillary pair – the biggest ones, located in the cheekbones, close to your teeth.
- The frontal pair – located in the forehead, low center.
- The ethmoid pair – located at the nasal bridge, right between the eyes.
- The sphenoid pair – located in bones which are to be found behind the nasal cavity.
Sinuses are usually lined with tissue, soft and pink in color, which is called mucosa. When the body is functioning normally and is healthy, sinuses are empty, except for a thin layer of mucus that has the purpose of lubricating the mucosa. When the body becomes ill, the sinuses start to produce mucus abundantly, which leaks into the nose through a channel called the middle meatus.
A curious thing about sinuses is that scientists and biologists are unclear what their purpose really is. There are many theories, of course. It is believed that sinuses help humidify the air we take in when we breathe or that they enhance our voices. Seeing as they are hollow, they act as cavities which reverberate the echo our voices makes. Other theories state they are simply a vestigial organ, such as the appendix, which we no longer use and which will disappear organically as time goes by and the human body evolves.
However, until then, we still have to fight the never ending battle that seems to be sinus infection. Here are the main conditions you can suffer from as far as sinuses go.
- Acute sinusitis – this is an infection of the sinuses caused by a virus or a bacterium. The sinus cavity inflames and it causes severe mucus secretion, headaches, discomfort in the forehead and around the eyes, and nasal congestion.
- Chronis sinusitis – this is basically the above mentioned acute sinusitis that simply won’t go away. In other words, it’s the persistent acute sinusitis for which you need to see a doctor or even change the environment you live in.
- Allergic rhinitis – it’s caused by pollen, pet dander, dust mites generally and particularly by anything that upsets your sinuses. The symptoms that differentiate it from sinusitis are itchiness and constant sneezing.
- Deviated septum – the septum is that little cartilage that separates your nostrils. If it’s not straight down the line of the nose and it deviates to one side or another, the airflow gets obstructed. It can usually be straightened with surgery.
- Turbinate hypertrophy – this happens when the septum’s ridges are enlarged, which again, blocks the airflow.
- Polyps – These are small growth that sometimes occur in the nose, as a response to a particular inflammation, such as asthma, infections, and rhinitis.
Home remedies for sinus pressure relief
Once you have established what exactly ails you and what caused it, you can try several natural home remedies before reaching for the antibiotic. Easy to make and to procure, home remedies might be the very solution you are looking for. One of the main reasons people turn to these solutions rather than straightforward medication is that sinusitis is a recurring problem. This means pills will only solve it for a period, after which the cycle begins again. Taking medication every time, especially antibiotic may have damaging secondary effects.
#1. Drink as many liquids as you can
Liquids include water, broth, and hot tea. Stay away from sugary beverages, coffee, and alcohol, as these dehydrate your system and will cause your mucus to thicken. The idea is to drink as many liquids as you can so as to dilute the mucus as best as possible.
When diluted, it has an excellent chance of running into your nose, and you can expel it. If it remains thick, it will clog inside the sinuses, and you will need to take some extreme measures to flush it out. These include a visit to your doctor who will squirt salted water in there so as to flush everything out. Therefore, it’s best you drink as much water as you can.
#2. Eat spicy foods
Another great way of diluting the mucus trapped in your sinus cavities is by eating spicy foods. You may have already noticed how you get a runny nose every time you eat a taco or spicy Indian food. This is an excellent remedy, and you can reach out towards cayenne pepper, jalapeno, horseradish, and wasabi.
Cayenne pepper can be mixed with apple cider vinegar and some lemon juice to create a solution guaranteed to dissolve any hardened mucus. The drink also boosts your immune system and ups your energy levels. It will help you heal faster, reduce dizziness, the sensation of ‘cloudiness’ in your head, as well as the ringing in your ears. One word of caution – do not snort this concoction.
#3. Try a facial massage
Activating your facial pressure points will allow for instant ease in your breathing. It’s a very easy procedure and, when done correctly, amazingly relieves you of pain. It has five steps, and it takes approximately two minutes to perform. However, you should note that this is only a temporary solution to your congestive problems, meant to be used in times when nothing else is available. It’s not a very good idea to use before going to bed at night because its effects will wear off soon.
#4. Take a steam
Inhaling steam is one of the best ways to clear up your sinuses and have them running again. It will dissolve all the thickened mucus in the sinus cavities and have them run into your nose, from where you can quickly dispose of them.
Take it one step further and pour one or two drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil into a pot of steaming hot water. Place a towel over your head, so as to cover both you and the pot of water and inhale the steam for a few minutes. Do not add too much essential oil, as it will burn your eyes and nasal passages. You can also pour a bit into your humidifier, should you own one. There are some appliances which even have a small tank embedded meant especially for this.
#5. Rinse everything off with salt water
For this treatment regarding sinus pressure relief, you will need a Neti Pot. It’s a ceramic device which usually retails for about $10 and which was specially designed for clearing out your sinuses. You can buy saline solution over the counter from the pharmacy, or you can make it yourself, at home. However, if you decide for the latter, make sure you use sanitized water, seeing as the one from your tap is not clean enough to pour into your nose.
Mix the hot water with a few teaspoons of salt, pour the concoction into the Neti pot and, using its elongated nozzle, pour it into one of your nostrils. Tilt your head to the side a bit, so as to allow the water to flow through your nose and come out through the other nostril. Blow your nose hard after you’ve finished and be careful not to inhale through your nose while you do this. Sinus pressure relief is guaranteed.
#6. Use grapefruit seed extract
This is a natural antibiotic produced by grinding grapefruit seeds into a very fine powder. It can be administrated in a nasal spray format so as to remove the mucus and aid in the sinus pressure relief process. Apart from that, it can also rid you of microbes and bacteria that may settle into the mucous membrane and cause inflammation.
Nasal spray enriched with grapefruit seed extract is available for purchase at approximately $5. You can also buy liquid concentrate which you can then mix with water to create your own treatment.
#7. Use turmeric or ginger as natural decongestion solutions
Turmeric is a very aromatic spice you can usually find in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It has anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to all the curcumin it contains and it’s also an anti-oxidant. If you mix it with ginger and make some hot tea out of them, it will loosen up all the clogged mucus in your sinus cavities or the nasal passage and make it easier to eliminate. It will also reduce the sinus pressure you normally feel in your skull and make you feel better on the whole.
Ginger is an added value element here, as it calms upset stomachs. This is one very frequent side effect if your sinuses drain excessively during the night.
#8. Use apple cider vinegar
Yet another great natural home remedy for sinus pressure relief is apple cider vinegar. When mixed with hot water and drank three times a day, it will liquefy all the excess mucus and relieve the congestion. If you find you cannot drink it as it is, you can always mix it with a bit of sugar, honey or Stevia.
#9. Boost your immune system
Another thing you need to focus on apart from actually fixing your sinus problem is your immune system. The old saying that it’s always better to prevent than to treat is very much true in this case. Here are a few ways in which you can do that.
- Take Vitamin C regularly
This essential vitamin is available in many shapes and sizes, from syrups to tablets to natural sources such as fruit and vegetables. It will improve your overall health and boost your immune system. For a perfect absorption into your body, pair it with a supplement that contains Acerola.
- Take fermented cod liver oil
This particular nugget of health is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D. Apart from helping with your sinuses, it will also treat any skin condition you might have, balance your hormones, and straighten out some auto-immune diseases.
- Take oregano oil
Yet another oil that works wonders on the human body. You need to add a few drops to one cup of liquid, be it water, juice or tea and drink it. Its properties are antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antiviral. If you choose to ingest it, it will also cure your cold sores, any fungus you might have on your nails, and your dandruff condition.
You can also inhale it via steam. If you’re thinking about choosing this solution, you need to be aware that it doesn’t smell as pleasant as other essential oils, and you might not be able to tolerate it. However, it does work wonders for sinus pressure relief.
#10. Eliminating the causes
Boosting your immune system is in allegiance with eliminating the causes when it comes to sinus problems. If you eliminate all the reasons why you develop these problems in the first place, your life will be much easier.
- Take care of all indoor allergens
These include dust mites, hair, dust, and pet and human dander. All you need to do is to make sure your house is very clean at all times by vacuuming regularly. You can also replace your air filter more often than you normally do. If you can, leave your pets outside, so that there is no chance you inhale their residue.
- Protect yourself against outdoor allergens
Outdoor allergens can mean pollen, car exhaust smoke, and smog. If you are aware that you’re sensitive to these irritants, wear a mask while outside.
- Start a cleaner diet
Food irritants can cause sinus problems as well. Sugar, dairy, and gluten are known to inflame your sinus cavities, for example. The simple solution is to remove them from your diet altogether if you notice they give you trouble.
When it comes to home remedies for sinus pressure relief, the best way to approach it is by trying every single one we described above and see which one works best for you. When you find the right solution or combination of solutions, all the stuffiness, headaches, and discomfort will vanish. Saying goodbye to all these problems without the aid of medication is a comforting thought indeed.