Sinus drainage

You know the feeling. Your nose is either plugged or like a leaky faucet, and your head feels like it’s in a vise. It feels better to keep your eyes closed because they’re puffy and sore. And your throat feels like you swallowed nails.

Sinus problems can be uncomfortable. However, there are effective remedies, from chicken soup to compresses, that you can use to alleviate the pain and discomfort of sinus issues.

Drink fluids and run a humidifier or vaporizer.

Why is this important? Fluids and humidification help to thin mucus and drain your sinuses. They also lubricate your sinuses and keep your skin hydrated.

Hot beverages, like herbal tea, can be especially hydrating. Hot beverages also provide an extra benefit from the steam.

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Nasal irrigation is very effective at relieving nasal congestion and irritation.

Saline irrigation simply means gently flushing out your nasal passages with a saline solution. You can do this with special squeeze bottles, bulb syringes, or a neti pot.

A neti pot is an inexpensive apparatus that looks like Aladdin’s lamp. The saline mixture is available prepackaged. You can also make your own by following these steps:

  • Mix 3 teaspoons of iodine-free salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda to create a dry mixture.
  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the dry mixture in 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of distilled, sterilized, or filtered water.

To capture the liquid, you will want to irrigate your sinuses while standing over a sink or basin. Pour, spray, or squirt a liberal amount of the solution into one nostril while tilting your head, so it flows out the other nostril. Do this with each nostril. It also flushes away bacteria and irritants.

Be sure to thoroughly clean your neti pot after each use, as bacteria can build up inside. In addition, never use straight tap water as this may contain bacteria that can infect your sinuses. If you do use tap water, be sure to boil it beforehand.

Steam helps relieve congestion by loosening mucus.

Give yourself a steam treatment using a bowl of hot water and a large towel. Add menthol, camphor, or eucalyptus oils to the water, if you like.

Place the towel over your head, so it falls along the sides of the bowl, trapping the steam inside. Most people do this until the steam dissipates. The steam from a hot shower can also work but is a less concentrated experience.

One older 2000 study found that chicken soup reduces inflammation associated with sinus congestion and colds.

So what’s the secret? Scientists haven’t identified the active ingredient in chicken soup, but they speculate that the steam combined with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the soup’s ingredients are what help clear the sinuses.

Rotating warm and cold compresses on your sinuses should also help.

  1. Lay back with a warm compress draped across your nose, cheeks, and forehead for three minutes.
  2. Remove the warm compress and replace it with a cold compress for 30 seconds.
  3. Do this two to three times.

You can repeat this process two to six times each day.

Honey may be a good alternative when a bacterial infection is causing your sinus congestion.

Some research suggests that honey has antibacterial properties. Manuka honey, in particular, has many therapeutic uses.

Try adding manuka honey to a cup of warm herbal tea.

Your sinus trouble can be caused by a number of things, including sinusitis and rhinitis.

Sinusitis is an infection that causes inflammation and swelling of your sinuses.

The 2015 clinical practice guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) state that a viral or bacterial infection can cause acute rhinosinusitis. Viral infections can’t be treated with antibiotics, but bacterial infections can.

Chronic sinusitis is an inflammatory condition that normally lasts more than three months. Nasal polyps, which are noncancerous growths, can accompany chronic sinusitis.

If you have allergic rhinitis, your immune system triggers the release of histamines that irritate your nasal membranes. This leads to congestion and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis can lead to sinusitis.

It’s time to see your doctor if you experience:

  • symptoms that last longer than 10 days
  • a fever of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher
  • symptoms that get worse, including a spike in your fever or increased greenish nasal discharge
  • changes in vision

You should also see a doctor if you have asthma or emphysema or if you take medications that suppress your immune system.

According to the AAO-HNS, around 30 million Americans have at least one bout of sinusitis each year. But these easy home remedies can help relieve your symptoms and ease your breathing.