10 Natural Remedies for Sinus Pain
Before turning to antibiotics, try these sinus pain remedies to help ease achiness and congestion.
Most people have experienced sinus pain and pressure at some point in their lives and most recover without any prescribed medications. But there are a number of natural sinus pain remedies that can offer relief, whether your symptoms are due to the common cold, allergies, or a sinus infection (sinusitis).
The sinuses are hollow pockets within the bones surrounding the nose. They produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If your nose is swollen due to inflammation, it can block the sinuses and cause pain, congestion, post-nasal drip, a cough, and tooth or facial pain. Sinusitis can be acute, lasting up to four weeks, usually after a cold, or it can be chronic, lasting for months or even years with or without symptoms. Allergies, nasal problems, and certain conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, can also cause acute and chronic sinusitis.
Try these 10 natural remedies for sinus pain relief to help break the sinus pain cycle:
Flush your nasal passages. A saline wash thins mucus and helps flush it out of the nasal passages. If you have sinus problems, use a saline solution via the neti pot or other device to keep the sinuses moist, and to double up when you are fighting a cold or allergies.
Try bromelain. Sold as a supplement, bromelain is a protein found in pineapple stems. For years, it's been used by prize fighters to reduce swelling. Bromelain appears to be beneficial and helps reduce swelling in the nasal passages. Just be sure to talk to your doctor first, because bromelain may interact with other medications you’re taking. And be sure to follow exact dosing instructions.
Take a steam. Hot water vapor can help moisten the sinuses. Sprinkle a few drops of eucalyptus or menthol in the shower and steam up your bathroom.
Drink up. Staying hydrated helps your body in many ways, including keeping your sinuses moist. Drink water throughout the day, and make sure to steer clear of caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can cause dehydration, Graham says. Although recommended fluid intake differs from person to person, an easy guideline is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. How can you tell if you are getting enough fluids? If the color of your urine is clear, you are hydrated
Spice it up. Spicy foods such as mustard, hot peppers, curry, horseradish, and wasabi may help clear sinuses, Graham says. If you like spice, consider adding some “hot” spices to your meals to open your nasal passages.
Allergy-proof your home. Allergies can make sinus pain worse. The latest guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery call for controlling your home environment by getting rid of dust mites, installing an air filter system, using bedding with allergen-barriers, and keeping any pets out of the bedroom to help curb nasal allergies.
Use a humidifier. A humidifier can keep the air moist, but be sure to keep it clean, especially if you have mold allergies. A dirty humidifier can breed mold. And you should only use a humidifier during dry months, not when it’s humid. In addition, keep an eye on the humidity level in the room, Payne adds. Thirty-five to 50 percent humidity is ideal, If you start fogging the windows, the humidity level is too high.
Apply warm compresses. You can use a warm compress to help keep the nasal tissues moist or, fill a deep bowl or pot with steaming water and place your face over it with a towel around your head to breathe the steam in. Just be careful not to burn yourself. You can also follow up the warm compress with a cold compress, which may help relieve sinus pain.
Don’t ask for antibiotics right away. Using antibiotics indiscriminately can lead to antibiotic resistance and the development of superbugs, plus they may not be effective in treating most cases of sinusitis. Less than two percent of these infections are bacterial. Most are viral and should be treated without antibiotics. So-called "watchful waiting" may be indicated, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery guidelines state. Your doctor may suggest a seven-day waiting period without antibiotics to see if you get better on your own. In fact, according to a study published in JAMA in 2012, for acute cases of sinusitis, antibiotics did little to reduce symptoms at three days of treatment and only provided small benefits at day seven. Quality of life improved over the 10-day treatment in patients receiving both placebo and the antibiotic.
Know when to see the doctor.
If sinus pain lasts for a week or more and you have a fever, you should see an ear, nose and throat specialist, because you may need more aggressive treatment than natural remedies provide.