We don’t think about our sinuses, air-filled cavities surrounding the nose and present in the cheeks, forehead, and near the eyes, until they give us trouble. When the sinuses are happy and healthy, they drain mucus from our nose, clear away dirt and bacteria, and go about their business without us giving them a second thought.
However, if these parts of the head become infected or we get a chronic case of sinusitis, we can have frustrating and painful symptoms to deal with that bring our attention very quickly to the sinuses.
Infections can trap mucus and allow fungi, bacteria, and viruses to grow more easily and cause us pain and discomfort in turn. If this happens, it’s essential to know some helpful treatment options to clear the sinuses out again.
Steer Clear of Triggers
One of the best ways to reduce issues stemming from sinusitis is to avoid common triggers in the first place. For example, you might wonder, “are sinus infections contagious or not?” They can be, so try to avoid situations where you’ll be exposed to people with a cold that could pass germs onto you and give you a sinus infection, among other things.
Or, if you know that you get sinusitis during spring or other times of the year when certain pollens are in the air, you could avoid areas with the flowers that trigger you or take an antihistamine regularly during that period to keep nasal irritants at bay.
Sometimes, though, no matter how vigilant you are, you’ll still come down with a sinus infection. When this happens, it helps to take some over-the-counter pain-relieving drugs to get through the discomfort. You could take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen to relieve localized pain, headaches, fever, and related symptoms.
Nasal sprays can also make quite a difference in the treatment of sinusitis. You can try over-the-counter ones or talk to your doctor about getting a script for a prescribed option if needed. These sprays are useful because they work to reduce swelling and congestion in the nasal passages. Do be careful about which product you choose and how long you use it for, though.
Misusing some nasal sprays, such as some decongestant options, can lead to side effects such as worsened congestion and nosebleeds. Talk to the chemist or your physician about which product is best for your needs. Unless otherwise directed, don’t use it for longer than the duration recommended on the product packaging.
Steam Inhalation and Humidifiers
Another way to help clear out your nasal passages and limit discomfort is via steam inhalation. Boil water, pour it into a bowl, and then add in a few drops of essential oils. Place a towel over your head as you lean over the bowl to keep the steam in (you might want to let the water cool a little first so it’s not too hot) and breathe in deeply. Eucalyptus oil is a common option for this steam inhalation since it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight infection and clear sinuses.
You might also want to get your humidifier out when you have sinusitis. This machine adds moisture to the air, which in turn can soften dried mucus in your sinuses. From there, you should notice some reduced congestion and mucus flowing more easily, with a reduction in pain to boot.
Another treatment option is nasal irrigation. Rinse out your nasal passages with a specially designed neti pot, squeeze bottle, saline canister, etc., to clear things out. Boil some water and let it cool or buy distilled water, rather than using water straight from the tap which can have bacteria or parasites present that your nose environment can’t kill off (as your stomach acid can when you drink it usually).
Mix around half a teaspoon of salt with half a teaspoon of baking soda and stir this into approximately two cups of your water. Use the neti pot or other product to apply the solution to one nostril at a time and repeat.
Another way to add moisture to your sinuses is via warm compresses placed over your face or even a hot shower, where you breathe in the warm, moist air. Also, be sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest, as this will help your body to heal. Getting enough water into your system will help loosen mucus, too. You might also utilize some antibiotic, antifungal, or allergy medications, depending on what has caused your sinusitis.
Some people who have chronic bouts of sinus infections that don’t ease with treatment may need endoscopic sinus surgery to shave away polyps or remove other tissue that keeps leading to nasal blockages. Surgeons may also enlarge a narrow sinus opening to ensure better mucus drainage.
Sinus infections are frustrating health issues to contend with, but you should be able to find at least some relief from the above options. Test what works for you at different times, as results can vary according to what’s causing the sinusitis.
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