The pain from sinusitis can be intolerable and the remedies to soothe pain and treat the condition range from natural to prescription to over-the-counter medications. Applying the wrong treatment to a condition won’t alleviate the suffering, so it’s important to determine if the sinusitis is bacterial or viral.
Diagnosing a Sinus Infection
Traditionally, a doctor’s visit was the prescribed method for diagnosis and treatment, but the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery released a guideline that recommends waiting it out for 10 days to decide if medical intervention is necessary.
Since most sinus infections are viral and no medication is effective in treating a virus, the condition will resolve itself. If no improvement has occurred after 10 days, then antibiotics are the preferred choice to resolve a bacterial sinus infection.
Sinus Pain Solutions
Some interventions are used daily in the prevention of recurring sinus infections and are more easily done in the convenience and privacy of your home; while others are quick fixes to help push through the demands of the workday. Implementing as many of the natural methods may help to keep your body healthy. Repeated antibiotic use can weaken the immune system and create a resistance to antibiotics that could prove to be a risk in the future.
Airborne particles like pollen, dust mites, pet dander and cigarette smoke eventually settle in carpets, bedding, clothes and other areas causing nasal inflammation, congestion, and discomfort. Vacuuming and washing regularly keep allergens at bay, including the use of protective covers for dust mite-free beds and pillows.
Regularly washing and fully drying hands, doorknobs and other surfaces help prevent the transmission of viruses and bacteria, especially in humid climates where the heat and humidity are breeding grounds for microbes. Cleaning the dish sponge with bleach will kill bacteria, mold, and mildew. The use of a high-performance air purifier can help you and your family breathe cleaner air.
A HEPA filter can greatly reduce the number of airborne pollutants which irritate the delicate blood vessels, worsening the sinus conditions and pain. If you smoke, try quitting the habit while suffering a sinus problem, as trapped allergens compound the problem.
Moist air is essential to calming inflammation. When the sinus structure mucus lining dries, sinus pain and pressure can increase. Humidifiers gently release steam into the air greater breathing comfort. Essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint can be added to help open sinuses. Hot, steamy showers and facial tents are quicker methods of alleviation. A facial tent is created by placing a towel over the head over a pot of freshly boiled water. Hot steam can burn so ensure the water is the correct temperature.
Drink plenty of warm or hot liquids. Water, herbal teas or broth are preferred sources of liquid over alcohol, caffeinated beverages and black teas with a tannin content. The mild dehydration that might occur is insignificant under normal conditions but the mucous lining is already compromised and added inflammation will lead to discomfort.
Neti pots resemble the fabled genie lamp and have been a staple of East Indian households for centuries as part of daily Ayurvedic practices. The long spout enables easy insertion into the nostril for a premixed solution of saline and distilled water to pour through which loosens the mucus. Nasal sprays work similarly in that a saline solution is flushed into the nostrils one at a time using a squeeze bottle. Some nasal sprays are medicated so be sure to read labels carefully.
The gentle pressure of a warm compress resting on the nose bridge can ease the swelling and throbbing. The compress can be a warm facecloth or a poultice.
A diet of fresh whole foods provides healthy nutrition for a strong body. Getting plenty of vegetables in the form of salads, juices, vitamin supplements, along with proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and oils contribute to a stronger immune system long term. Some foods trigger inflammation which can aggravate the sinus pain, so keeping the diet clean and simple may help to avoid allergens that could be present in some highly-processed foods.
Minimize the number of times or length of time your head is in a downward position. Keeping your head upright will eliminate pressure and congestion, particularly during hours of sleep. Pile the pillows so you are resting at an incline, ensuring a better night’s sleep and the opportunity for the body to heal.
Avoid air travel: The ascent and descent with altitude changes alter the cabin pressure while the air pressure in the sinus cavities simultaneously equalizes to accommodate the fluctuations. Blockages to equalizing the sinus cavity pressure such as congestion or inner ear conditions can cause greater pain or sensations of ringing in the ears, spinning or hearing loss. Decongestants can help if air travel is a must.
Avoid swimming: The pressure in the sinuses must equilibrate like it does during air travel. Additional considerations are chlorine and bacteria entering the nasal passages, leading to inflammation. Nose clips are the best solution from water being trapped in the sinuses where bacteria can harbor.
If the demands of the day have you out of the house for the better part of the day, you may have to supplement with a decongestant. Depending on the severity of the condition, an over-the-counter one might suffice until returning home.
Depending on the severity, a painkiller might be recommended for temporary relief. Don’t depend on this method for too long as it could be masking a more serious condition. If repeated sinus infections or pain are interfering with your quality of life, then a visit to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist is recommended to uncover the underlying cause.
At the Los Angeles Sinus Institute, Dr. Zadeh is focused on performing the most advanced, innovative treatments and techniques, and performing the safest and least invasive procedures, minimizing risk, and speeding recovery time
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery