Sinusitis, or sinus infection, is a common medical condition that happens to about 31 million people in the US at least once a year.
It is often caused by viral infections or sometimes, bacterial infections. Sinusitis causes inflammation of the sinus tissues, which block the nasal airways and allow germs and bacteria to grow inside the cavities. The infection causes discomfort and congestion, along with other symptoms.
Most of the time, sinusitis goes away on its own, without the need for hospitalization or prescription medication. If you want to save a trip to the doctor, here are some known home remedies for sinus infection that can help speed up your healing.
1. Drink plenty of water.
We already know that drinking water is necessary for good health but it is extra important when you are sick. Double up your water intake to provide your body the hydration that it needs. Staying hydrated also helps keep the sinuses moist and aid in loosening the thick mucus so that it can be expelled easier.
Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day for regular days. When you are sick, however, it is best to go above the recommended amount. Because your body is doing extra work, it also needs extra hydration and nourishment.
Additionally, don’t consume alcoholic drinks and stay away from diuretics. These can cause dehydration and make your symptoms feel worse. Hot drinks such as non-caffeinated tea and chicken broth are also great for relieving sinus blockage.
2. Inhale steam.
Inhaling hot steam is an effective way to alleviate sinus infection pressure. This helps clear the sinuses and soothe inflamed tissues.
Steam treatment for sinusitis can be easily done at home. Add drops of menthol or eucalyptus oil into hot water in a large bowl. Position your head above the bowl. Place a towel over your head to trap the steam. Close your eyes and inhale the steam.
You can also place a warm washcloth on your face or stand in the bathroom while the hot shower is running. The steam will be less concentrated but can still provide some relief.
3. Flush out your sinuses.
Nasal irrigation is an alternative treatment that effectively clears out the sinuses. This is done with a mixture of water and saline solution, poured into the nasal passages through a neti pot or squeeze bottle.
The solution is poured into the nasal cavity and flows out through the nostril. This helps the body get rid of bacteria and infectious agents in the nasal passages. It also aids in loosening and expelling thick mucus.
It is important to use only distilled or sterile water, to avoid infections that can be brought by unsterile water.
4. Use a humidifier or vaporizer.
If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, you may be breathing in bad air quality in your home. Moisturizing the air in your environment can help lessen allergy attacks and sinus infections.
Using a humidifier or vaporizer at home or in your office is a great preventative tool against sinus infections. A humidifier releases mist that adds moisture in the air, improving the air quality in your space.
The ideal humidity level is 30% – 50%. Anything below or above can cause sinus problems or allergy attacks. If you install a humidifier, make sure to regularly clean the reservoir to prevent bacterial growth. Distilled or demineralized water should also be used in the device.
5. Drink ginger tea.
Ginger is known to have many medicinal benefits. It is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which is why it is a great treatment for cough and colds.
The healthy spice is also a popular natural remedy for sinusitis. It has a warming effect that helps relieve the pressure and blockage. Because ginger is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it can reduce inflammation and aid in recovery.
Drink a cup of ginger tea 1-3 times daily for instant relief. You can also inhale the steam from the ginger tea to help clear your nasal blockage.
6. Add honey into the mix.
Add honey to your diet. This sweet, gooey liquid is known to have a high concentration of antimicrobial properties. One specific type of honey called Manuka honey, contains a powerful compound that effectively fights bacteria.
For a yummier and healthy concoction, add a dollop of honey into your ginger tea to bring relief to your congested sinuses. You can also add honey to your food or use it as an added sweetener for your juices and other drinks.
There are also nasal rinses mixed with manuka honey that can be used to irrigate the nasal passages. Because of manuka honey’s antiseptic and antimicrobial abilities, it can be more effective than the traditional saline rinse. Eating a spoonful of honey every day can also help boost the immune system and promote faster recovery period.
7. Drink apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is another popular natural remedy for sinusitis. Made from fermented sugar from apples that transforms into acetic acid, this power drink is filled with antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Aside from its bacteria-fighting agents, ACV is also rich in nutrients like calcium, magnesium and vitamins A, E, B1 and B2, which are all helpful in treating infections. Additionally, it also has natural probiotics, which help improve immune system health.
Apple cider vinegar can be mixed in warm water and consumed as a hot drink. It can also be added to salad dressings and other sauces for extra flavor.
8. Take your vitamins.
When your body is fighting an infection, it needs all the help it can get. A healthy immune system can naturally fight off a common virus in one to two weeks, without hospitalization.
Supplementing your body with the proper vitamins and minerals will give you the weapons you need to fight the virus and infection. Vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory that strengthens the immune system.
It is ideal to double up your usual daily dosage of vitamin C when you have a sinus infection. Vitamin A and D also help strengthen the body’s defenses to fight off the infection quicker.
9. Get lots of sleep.
One of the most important things your body needs when fighting a virus or sickness is rest, so make sure you get lots of sleep.
Sleep is when the body repairs the cells and rids the system of the toxins. This is also the time when your immune system produces antibodies to fight infection. When you are sleep-deprived, your immune response is weak, which means it will have a harder time fighting the virus.
It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, or more when you can. Listen to your body’s needs because it will tell you when you need to rest. Getting good-quality sleep is crucial for your recovery.
Symptoms Of Sinus Infection
Sinusitis from a viral infection often presents symptoms that resemble colds. Acute sinusitis typically lasts less than four weeks, while subacute sinusitis lasts four to twelve weeks. Chronic sinusitis can last for more than twelve weeks and recur after a couple of months.
The most common symptoms of sinus infections are listed below:
Facial pain and headaches
There are four pairs of sinus cavities in the head, located in the forehead, behind the nose, and behind the cheeks. When infection or inflammation is present, it is normal to feel pain around these areas.
Tenderness can also be felt when touching the face, as the linings of the sinuses are inflamed and swollen. The pressure inside the sinuses and the mucus build-up can also lead to nagging headaches.
Runny nose and postnasal drip
As the body works to rid itself of the infection, your nose will be expelling the mucus build-up in the sinuses. It is common to have a runny nose or a nasal discharge that’s cloudy, yellow or green.
The discharge can also drain down the back of your throat, which is referred to as postnasal drip. There is a sensation of liquid draining on your throat, which can feel itchy and cause you to cough or constantly clear your throat.
Not everyone with sinusitis will present a fever. But, as the body is fighting an infection, it is not uncommon to have a low grade fever of around 100.4 to 103°F.
This is the body’s way of releasing antibodies and clearing the infection. Because immune responses differ from person to person, some may not develop a fever at all.
If you develop high fever along with chills and your symptoms are worsening, it is best to go to the doctor, as this can be an indication that your body needs emergency treatment.
Because the sinuses are inflamed, your nasal passages will feel congested. Since the tissues in the nasal cavity are swollen, you may have a hard time breathing through the nose and your voice may sound different.
The congestion can also be felt in your ears and behind the eyes. This can temporarily affect your hearing and give you the feeling that your ears are blocked.
Sore throat or cough
When mucus or nasal discharge drains down the throat, it can lead to irritation, a sore throat or a persistent cough.
The cough can get worse when you are lying down, making it hard to rest or sleep at night. It can also be hard in the mornings after waking up because of the mucus build-up. Sleeping in an upright position can help alleviate this problem.
Can You Prevent Sinus Infections?
Can sinus infections be prevented? Not entirely. However, there are certain steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting infected. Most sinus infections are caused by colds, flu and allergies. If you avoid getting sick, your chances of getting a sinus infection will be low.
Here are some other tips to help keep infections at bay:
- Always wash your hands, especially during the cold weather when viruses can spread more easily.
- Use alcohol or a sanitizing gel to kill bacteria and germs that can transfer on your hands from dirty surfaces.
- Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in antioxidants to fight off free radicals in your system.
- Boost your immune system by exercising regularly and getting enough sleep at night.
- Be mindful of your surroundings and stay away from allergy triggers like dust, pollen and pet dander.
- Make sure to clean and sanitize your home regularly.
- Keep your nasal passages moist with a saline spray.
- Maintain good dental hygiene and visit the dentist regularly. An infected tooth can also affect your sinuses and lead to infection.
When To See The Doctor
Acute sinusitis usually clears up in 10-14 days by itself. It is a common condition that is easily treatable with over-the-counter medicines or with the natural home remedies that we’ve listed above.
But, if your symptoms are not getting better, you might need to visit the doctor for treatment and medication. If you develop a fever over 103°F, experience sudden confusion or have extreme pain, see a doctor immediately, as this can indicate that the infection is spreading to other parts of the body.
If you have chronic sinusitis, it is ideal to have your condition checked by an otolaryngologist, or an ENT specialist. Imaging tests and more detailed examinations may be needed to determine the cause of the infection. Certain conditions such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum can cause chronic sinusitis and may require more extensive treatment or surgery.