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6 Best Home Remedies for Sinus Infection

Whether you have a single sinus infection or recurrent sinusitis, the pain and pressure in your face is enough to send you running for medication.

But researchers caution against taking unnecessary antibiotics. Most sinus problems are caused by viruses, which antibiotics don’t treat. Those caused by bacteria may not improve any faster with antibiotics.

Fortunately, a variety of natural remedies for sinus infections and pain can effectively provide relief. Some of these approaches are even recommended by physicians, who say that getting sinus mucus flowing can help you feel better while your body successfully fights the infection.

What Is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, which are hollow spaces in the forehead, nose and cheekbones. The lining of these spaces produces mucus to keep them moist and to protect against germs, dust, and allergens. When sinuses are inflamed, they become swollen and produce too much mucus. The buildup of mucus in the sinuses causes pressure and pain in the face, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

People with upper respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma may also have sinusitis, with pressure and pain around the sinuses, postnasal drip, headache, and fatigue.

Easy Natural Remedies Help Mucus Flow

In many cases, sinus home remedies — including those things your mother told you to do — can effectively improve inflamed sinuses. These treatments soothe irritated passageways and increase the flow of mucus so you don’t feel so stuffed up. Here are seven natural ways to ease sinus infections:

1. Heat Up Your Face

One of the most effective home remedies for sinus infections is to warm up and moisturize your sinus passageways.

Inhaling steam helps to soothe the sinus tissue and gives you the feeling of clearing them out a little.

You can simply stand in the shower or even sit in the bathroom when the shower is running. You can also place a warm washcloth over your nose and cheeks while you lie on your bed.

For the most potent steam treatment, boil a pot of water, then take it off the heat. Tent a towel over your head and bend over the pot to inhale the steam. Be careful not to start out too close to the hot water and to keep your eyes closed. As the liquid cools, you can move in a little, but only to the point where it remains comfortable.

You might add a drop or two of essential oils; eucalyptus oil can help open the nose, while lavender essential oil or chamomile essential oil will calm you.

2. Irrigate Your Sinuses

Nasal irrigation is basically a method of using a saltwater solution to force out germs and plugged-up mucus residing in the sinus passages. Other terms for this are nasal wash, nasal douche, or lavage. Some people refer to it by one of the popular devices used to get the water in, a neti pot.

Experts caution that it is important to use distilled or sterile water (you can sterilize tap water yourself by boiling for 3 to 5 minutes, then cooling) to avoid the rare possibility of introducing a parasite into your sinus passageways.

3. Consider Using a Supplement

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple plant that is sold as a dietary supplement. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), you can get it as a powder, cream, tablet, or capsule, sometimes in combination with other ingredients.

Bromelain has been studied for sinusitis because it is thought to be effective in taming inflammation. A small number of double-blind studies has found bromelain improves sinus symptoms more than a placebo.

Research indicates that oral doses of bromelain are typically from 500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day, but some people take 2,000 mg.

Although bromelain is natural, that doesn’t mean there can’t be side effects. The NCCIH cautions that some people experience allergic reactions, GI issues, menstrual problems, and an increased heart rate.

4. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants like quercetin, a natural plant component found in everything from onions and apples to green tea and red wine. Like many plant ingredients, it is an antioxidant. For sinus problems, quercetin has also been found to stabilize the cells in the body that release histamine — the chemical that stimulates mucus secretion in the sinuses. Quercetin has also been found to be helpful for sinusitis, with a typical oral dose of 400 to 500 mg taken three times per day.

5. Drinking Liquids Help Ease Sinus Pain

Staying hydrated keeps your sinuses moist so you feel better, and it also decreases the thickness of sinus mucus so it flows out more easily. Everyone is guilty of not drinking enough water. recommending people get from six to eight 8-ounces glasses every day. Steer clear of too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can cause dehydration.

6. Eliminate Dairy Products

Casein and whey proteins in dairy products may trigger allergies and excess mucus production in some people. If you have recurrent sinusitis, try eliminating all dairy to see if it makes a difference. Delicious dairy substitutes like cashew, almond, hemp, and oat milk products are widely available.

How to Tell if These Remedies Are Not Working

You will know if these remedies are effective because you will begin to feel better and your sinuses will be less congested. However, unlike with antibiotics where symptoms start to diminish quickly, natural remedies typically take longer to work. So you should continue to do these remedies regularly for at least a week or two before determining if they are working.

When to See a Doctor for Sinus Issues

If your symptoms persist more than one to two weeks, you should consult with your physician. You’ll want to check with your doctor even sooner if you have a severe case of a sinus infection — including a high fever, swelling around the eyes, and red and inflamed skin, among other symptoms. In this case, or if your symptoms do not clear up within two weeks, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic.