Whether you have a single sinus infection or recurrent sinusitis, the pain and pressure in your face are enough to send you running for medication.
But the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cautions against taking unnecessary antibiotics. Most sinus problems are caused by viruses, which antibiotics don’t treat. And even those brought on by bacteria don’t usually improve any faster with antibiotics, the agency says.
Fortunately, a variety of natural remedies for sinus pain and sinus infections can effectively provide relief.
These treatments sooth irritated passageways and increase the flow of mucus so you don’t feel so stuffed up, he explains.
1. Heat Up (or Steam Up) Your Face
One of the most effective home remedies is to warm up and moisturize your sinus passageways.
“Inhaling steam helps to soothe the sinus tissue, and give you the feeling of clearing them out a little,” Dr. Del Signore says.
You can simply stand in the shower or even sit in the bathroom when the shower is running. You can also place a warmed 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 to Help Ease Symptoms and Prevent Sinus Infections
Nasal irrigation is basically a method of using a saltwater solution to force out germs and plugged-up mucous residing in the sinus passages. Other terms for this are a 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.”
A small number of studies has found irrigation can improve symptoms, including one review published in September 2016 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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. Yoga Can Help Drain Mucus From Sinus Passageways
If you are in the midst of a sinus infection, a supported yoga pose where your head is elevated will help you feel better without putting too much pressure on your sinuses, says Leslie Kazadi, a certified yoga therapist who teaches around Los Angeles and online at YogisAnonymous.com.
One pose Kazadi suggests is Supported by Reclined Cobbler’s Pose.
How to Try Supported Reclined Cobbler’s Yoga Pose
- Place a bolster or rolled up blanket under your back and lie on your bed or floor.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together; you can place yoga blocks or rolled towels under your knees to make this more comfortable.
- Relax your arms out to your sides. Remain here for as long as is comfortable.
- Come out of the pose by rolling off the bolster or blanket and onto your side, then pressing your hands against the floor to sit up.
4. Consider Using a Supplement, Such as the Enzyme Bromelain
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.
Although bromelain is natural, that doesn’t mean there can’t be side effects. The NCCIH cautions that some people experience allergic reactions, GI problems, and an increased heart rate.
5. Try Quercetin — a Powerful Herb You’ve Likely Never Heard Of
Quercetin is 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.
6. Drinking Liquids Help Ease Sinus Pain and Loosen Congestion
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, Del Signore says.
“Everyone is guilty of not drinking enough water,” he says, recommending people get from six to eight 8-ounce glasses every day.
Steer clear of too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can cause dehydration