If you’ve ever experienced a sinus headache, you know that the pain can range from a minor irritation to an excruciating annoyance. Whether your discomfort is mild or intense, you may have trouble going about your daily routine. Sinus headaches can make you miss work or other activities. Have you ever wondered how to get rid of a sinus headache especially when over-the-counter medications don’t work for sinus headache relief? These natural remedies may be more effective and have fewer side effects.
What Causes a Sinus Headache?
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, sinus headaches are caused by inflammation in your sinuses. Your sinuses are empty cavities that are located above your eyebrows, between the eyes, within your cheeks and along your nose.
What do these air-filled spaces do when they’re not throbbing with pain? Your sinuses reduce the weight of your skull. They also make your voice sound resonant. When you’re congested and your sinuses are clogged, your voice has a more nasal whine to it.
The primary function of the sinus cavities is to make mucus. The sticky substance lines the inside of your nose and protects it from dirt, dust and germs.
If your sinuses are healthy, mucus drains and air can circulate throughout your nasal passages. When your sinuses are inflamed, they become swollen. The thickened tissue can block the passages that allow mucus to drain. This can cause all kinds of problems, including pressure, pain and headaches.
Typically, you can fee a sinus headache coming on. Usually, you will feel the pressure buildup in your nasal cavity first. Many people will describe the feeling as a cloudiness that makes you feel like you are in a haze.
Sometimes, you can even feel it in the form of a tickle in the back of your throat. Many people often also experience difficulty swallowing or an increase in pressure swallowing.
Usually, if you go to bed feeling this way, then you Will typically wake up with severe congestion and blockage in your nasal cavity. This uncomfortable pressure will then all too often lead to a sinus headache.
Sinus headaches are often confused with migraines or tension headaches. It’s important to know the symptoms that differentiate sinus pain from other kinds of discomfort, however. Pinpointing the problem can help you treat it effectively.
Sinus headaches are often associated with a feeling of pressure, heaviness or tightness. This sensation can occur on the forehead, on the cheeks or around the eyes. It can be restricted to a small area of your face.
You can also feel pressure and pain in your jaw. Many people with sinus problems get toothaches and pain in the roof of their mouth.
Migraines can also cause a feeling of pressure around the face. However, people with migraines may also have nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. These symptoms do not often occur with sinus headaches. However, you may develop nausea if you have congestion and postnasal drip along with a sinus headache.
Pain When Bending Over
Sinus headaches can get worse when you bend over. You may feel as though you need to keep your head elevated to help with sinus pain relief.
Pain when bending over is one of the telltale signs of a sinus headache. Usually, you will feel the pain localized in your forehead. Others will feel the pressure in their temple and in their cheeks. When you stand up, this increase in pain will quickly alleviate itself.
When you lay down flat, the pain can increase as well, but usually, you can find some comfort by sleeping with your head elevated.
When you have a sinus headache, your face might hurt when you touch it. You might be able to feel fluid and inflammation when you palpate your cheeks or eyebrows. Though it is not usually common to be able to feel the fluid, it can still be palpable.
If there is a good bit of inflammation, you may even be able to feel the heat radiating off your face.
Pain Is Worse In The Mornings
Sleeping can cause mucus buildup that clogs your sinuses. For that reason, many people who suffer from sinus headaches say that the discomfort is worse when they wake up and subsides throughout the day.
Often times the gunk can be so bad that when you wake up, you will need to empty out some of the gunk or spit it out. The phlegm that comes out can be painful or even difficult to get out. While this is a great hassle, the good news is that the pain does alleviate itself as you go on throughout your day.
May Be Associated With A Cold
You’re more likely to have a sinus infection when you’re fighting a cold or respiratory illness. Even if the sickness has gone away, you might continue to have sinus headaches because your sinuses are still inflamed.
Some other symptoms that accompany sinus headaches are:
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Swollen nasal passages
- Mucus discharge from the nose
- General malaise
Natural Remedies for Sinus Headaches
Have you ever asked someone what to take for a sinus headache? Maybe your doctor or a friend has given you advice on how to get rid of this type of pain.
Many medications can leave you feeling dazed, lightheaded or fatigued. Decongestants can dry out the mucus, unclogging your sinuses and relieving pain. However, they don’t address the cause of the inflammation and may come with a whole host of side effects.
Natural remedies for sinus headache treatment are abundant. Many deal with the root of the inflammation and can prevent sinus problems from returning. These sinusitis home remedies tend to have fewer side effects than medications.
Although you might have heard that adding a humidifier to your house can help with sinus pressure relief, the situation is a little more complicated than that. Dry air can thicken mucus. If your mucus can’t drain, you might end up with sinus pressure.
Many heat pumps and air conditioning units spew out dry air, which can exacerbate sinus problems. However, too much moisture can create mildew and mold issues, which can also be hard on your respiratory health. Excess humidity can also lead to more dust mites, which can aggravate allergy symptoms and lead to sinus inflammation.
The ideal home has a humidity level of about 35 to 40 percent. If your cloth furnishings and draperies feel damp, your house is too humid. Use a humidity gauge, and keep vaporizers and humidifiers clean. When used correctly, humidity is a natural sinus headache remedy, and the benefits outweigh the risks, according to Everyday Health.
Hot And Cold Compresses
When you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of a sinus headache, it’s natural to reach for a cold compress for sinus headache pressure relief. Ice provides a numbing sensation, which could reduce the pain. Alternating with hot and cold compresses can stimulate blood flow, however. Warmth can also help thin out thick mucus so that it drains.
Fill a bowl with hot water, and place several washcloths in it. Use one of those towels to apply a warm compress to your head for three minutes as you lie back with your head elevated. Then, drape a cold washcloth or ice pack across your forehead for 30 seconds. Repeat about four times. You can do this technique several times a day.
Irrigation sounds like something you do to your lawn. However, it’s an effective way to keep your sinuses healthy and get sinus relief. Irrigation involves flushing out your nasal cavity with saline solution. You can use sprays or a Neti pot to direct the flow of liquid into the nostrils.
Irrigating with a Neti pot is an ancient practice. According to WebMD, research shows that irrigation is an effective option for how to alleviate sinus pressure without taking medication. Your nasal passageways are lined with cilia, tiny hairs that help move mucus out of the area. Using saline solution can help the cilia harmonize for more efficient removal of irritants.
Whether you’re using a Neti pot, a syringe or a squeeze bottle, you’ll want to use distilled or previously boiled water. The water should be around body temperature. Combine the water with a saline solution, or buy pre-mixed saline solution at the store.
Lean over your sink, tilting your head forward. Turn your head so that one ear is pointing at the sink and the other is pointing at the ceiling. Keep your mouth open so that you can breathe through it. Gently pour some liquid into the top nostril, allowing it to flow to the back of the nose and out the lower nostril.
After a few seconds, gently blow the rest of the liquid and mucus out of your nose. If you swallow any liquid during the process, that’s ok. Repeat on the other side. Repeat once or twice a day for relieving sinus pressure. Once the pain has subsided, you can use this technique for maintenance about three times a week.
Saline Solution Recipe:
- 16 ounces water that’s distilled or boiled and cooled
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
Warm the water until it’s lukewarm. Test it by pouring some gently on the inside of your wrist. When it’s the optimal temperature, you shouldn’t feel it at all. Mix in the salt and baking soda until it has dissolved. Use it right away.
Add More Spices to Your Diet
Have you ever used too much wasabi on your sushi and had to blow your nose throughout your entire meal? Spicy foods can encourage mucus to drain. However, you don’t have to go overboard when it comes to eating highly spiced foods.
Hot spices work by irritating the sinuses. They can actually cause more inflammation. To reduce the irritation, your mucus goes into overdrive, which is why everything feels like it’s flowing again. In spite of this, you might feel more congested later because the inflammation has not been addressed.
You could always eat some pineapple after consuming spicy foods. The fruit contains a protein called bromelain, which can help reduce inflammation. Pineapple has other health benefits too.
It can improve your immunity, helping you fight off the virus that caused your sinus problems in the first place. Eating pineapple can also reduce mucus in the throat, helping you breathe and stopping the coughing that might accompany a sinus headache.
Take A Foot Bath
It sounds strange that soaking your feet is one of the effective home remedies for sinusitis headache. However, experts say that when your feet are in a warm bath, the blood flow to your throat and nose improves.
Take a foot bath by adding piping hot water to a tub or large container. Sit with your feet in the water for approximately 30 minutes. This is a great time to place cold and warm compresses on your head. You can also add essential oils to the water.
Steam works like humidity to break up mucus and reduce sinus headaches pressure. If you’re wondering how to relieve sinus headaches with steam, it’s simple. You can inhale steam from a hot shower or use a vaporizer while you sleep. You can also fill a heat-proof bowl with hot water and lean over it, breathing in the moisture.
One of the best ways to find relief, especially before bed, is to take a long hot steam bath. A steam bath will allow your nasal cavity the opportunity to break up all the gunk and mucus that is clogged in there.
If you want even more power to help get rid of the mucus, then you may even want to use some Vicks vapor rub on your chest to help your nasal cavity decongest. The menthol in the Vicks vapor rub can work wonders as it will help calm you down and relax you.
Eucalyptus oil can help mobilize mucus, clear out irritants and reduce swelling. It also has antimicrobial properties. Therefore, it works on several causes of sinus headaches.
You can dilute the eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil like jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut oil. To do this, add two drops of eucalyptus to one tablespoon of carrier oil. Apply to your temples, your chest and the bottoms of your feet.
Use eucalyptus oil as aromatherapy by putting it on a cotton ball and breathing it in throughout the day. You can also add the oil to a vaporizer or diffuser. Be aware that eucalyptus oil may not be safe for children younger than six to breathe in.
When peppermint oil is applied to the forehead, it stimulates blood flow in the region. The cooling sensation can also distract you from the headache.
To use peppermint oil for a sinus headache, dilute two or three drops of the oil with a carrier oil. Apply to the temples, forehead, back of the neck and shoulders.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Inhaling it can help ease sinus infections and reduce inflammation.
You can use tea tree oil like eucalyptus oil. Add it to a cloth or cotton ball to inhale throughout the day. You can also add it to a bath, foot soak, vaporizer, Neti pot or bowl of steaming water.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory. The pungent phenols and oils in ginger root work as an expectorant, helping mucus flow more easily. Ginger also inhibits the emission of mucus from the cells in the respiratory passageways. It can promote the healthy function of the cilia.
Many health food stores sell ginger tea, which is one of the more useful remedies for sinus headaches. You can make your own ginger tea by cutting off a chunk of fresh ginger root and boiling it in water for 10 minutes. Strain out the ginger, and sip the tea.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many benefits for your health. The many vitamins and nutrients it contains can help boost immunity. The vinegar is also known to reduce allergy symptoms. After taking it, you should immediately notice that your mucus is thinner and clearer.
Use organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother,” a colony of friendly bacteria that help with the fermentation process. Organic apple cider vinegar also tends to taste sweeter and milder than non-organic vinegar.
Drink the vinegar by adding one tablespoon to 8 ounces of water and sipping throughout the day. Apple cider also makes a delicious hot drink.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over 1 teaspoon of honey in a mug. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Pour boiling water over the mixture, and stir. Sip like tea, breathing in the vapors. Drinking apple cider vinegar regularly may help keep sinus infections at bay.
Some people also add apple cider vinegar to a Neti pot. However, you may experience a burning sensation if you do this.
Basil has been used in Chinese medicine to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis. It reduces phlegm, helps expel mucus from the chest and fights bacteria and fungi. It can also strengthen your immune system.
Ayurvedic medicine recommends making a tea from 10 basil leaves, 10 peppercorns and a knob of ginger. Grind the ingredients into a paste, and add them to 8 ounces of boiling water. Remove it from the heat when the liquid has reduced by half. Add honey, and sip the concoction like tea.
You can also buy tulsi tea at the health food store. Tulsi is holy basil, which is known for its restorative qualities. It’s an adaptogen, which means that it promotes the body’s healthy reactions to stress.
Tomato tea combines nutrients from vegetable juice with anti-bacterial properties of garlic and lemon for an immune-boosting, sinus-clearing beverage. Plenty of hot sauce also helps remove mucus from the nasal cavity.
Earth Clinic has a recipe for tomato tea that can help clear up sinus infections. Heat up 2 cups of V8 juice with 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Sip it like a tea, reheating it as necessary.
Massage The Sinus Region
Relieving head pressure can be easy with massage. Massage can stimulate the mobilization of mucus. Pressing on the right spots can also instantly get rid of sinus pressure in your face.
Start by massaging your eyebrows. Press on the inner side of the eyebrows. Slowly drag your fingers along your eyebrows. Finish by massaging the temples. Repeat this until you experience some relief.
You can also try massaging the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Apply pressure here for about 20 seconds. Then, immediately press between your eyebrows with your fingers for 10 seconds. Repeat this process until you feel like your sinuses are draining.
Tapping or pushing on specific sinus pressure points can help reduce the pain of sinus headaches. To activate these points:
- Press the spot between your eyes above the bridge of the nose
- Squeeze inward on the spots on either side of the nostrils
- Squeezing the bridge of the nose
- Push in and up on the cheeks
- Push in and up on the groove above the center of the top lip
- Press up and out along your eyebrows
Tips To Avoid Sinus Headaches
It’s helpful to know how to clear your sinuses when you’re experiencing acute pain. Sinus headache medicine and home remedies for sinus infection can make you feel better in a short amount of time. Taking steps to prevent sinus headaches in the future can help you avoid the pain and frustration of this problem.
Limit Alcohol Use And Smoking
Alcohol is inflammatory. Even if you just have a glass of wine a night, you may experience chronic inflammation throughout your body. This can aggravate sinus issues.
Smoking directly affects the respiratory passageways. It introduces toxins and irritants that can lead to long-term sinus pain.
When you’re dehydrated, your mucus thickens. Keep everything flowing by drinking plenty of fluids. Incorporating some of the teas discussed in this article can help prevent sinus pressure from forming.
How much water should you drink a day? The general recommendation is to drink half of your weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking about 75 ounces of water daily.
Elevate Your Head
When you lie down with your head on the same plane as your body, you allow mucus to accumulate in your sinuses. Keep your head elevated to promote drainage. You may need to use an extra pillow as you sleep to keep your sinuses clear.
Sometimes, exercising can improve symptoms of sinus headaches. When you exercise, your nasal passages expand. This can result in immediate relief of pressure in your head and face. Gentle cardio, such as walking or riding a bike, can be comfortable and helpful when you’re experiencing sinus pain. Keeping your body moving when you’re not having sinus problems can prevent them from coming back.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Practicing deep breathing can improve the flow of oxygen to every organ in your body. This helps encourage your body to function optimally.
Practicing a technique called the bellows breath every day can prevent and treat sinusitis. Begin by breathing normally. Then, expel air through your nose in 10 short, quick bursts. After you breathe out forcefully 10 times, breathe normally for 30 seconds. Repeat this pattern 10 or 20 times.
Doing the bellows breath in the shower can be especially helpful. However, you may want to practice it while sitting down, especially if you get lightheaded while doing it.
Boost Your Immune System with Vitamin C
Vitamin C has many immune-boosting properties. Taking it on a regular basis can help your body stay healthy and fight infection. If your sinuses are clogged, your body can better combat microbes that can grow in the warm, moist environment if it has strong immunity.
When To See A Doctor
If you’re constantly trying to figure out how to get rid of a sinus headache because you’re experiencing problems, you may want to see a doctor. You should be examined by a medical professional if you have:
- Mild pain that persists for months
- Congestion that doesn’t go away after 10 days or keeps getting worse
- Symptoms that don’t improve after taking antibiotics for 3 to 5 days
- A fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher that doesn’t go away after 24 hours
- Pain in the face or teeth that doesn’t go away or changes position