Most of us have experienced a sinus infection as it’s one of the most common conditions people suffer from. It can be either a viral or bacterial infection, sometimes it is also caused by allergies. It can last just a few days or become chronic. Find out what the most common causes of a sinus infection are and how to get rid of it using natural and safe home remedies.
Understand Your Sinuses
To prevent or treat your sinus infection you should understand the anatomy and functions of the sinuses in our organism. They are located in your skull and may be described as a system of connected hollow cavities.
The largest sinuses are known as maxillary sinuses and are located in your cheekbones. The frontal sinuses can be found in the lower part of your forehead while so called ethmoid sinuses are between your eyes. Last but not least, sphenoid sinuses are located behind your nose.
Your sinuses are lined with so called mucosa, which is soft and pink tissue. The inside of our nose is equipped with ridges, which are known as turbinates. Septum is a thin wall that divides our nose.
If our sinuses are healthy, they are almost empty as there is only a thin layer of mucus. The expert are not sure about the function of the sinuses. Some theories say that we need them as they humidify the air that we breathe in. Others claim that they improve our voices.
Despite the fact that the function of sinuses is not clear and that their anatomy is simple, it is true that they often cause problems as various illnesses tend to develop in them.
The most common conditions that may affect our sinuses include a sinus infection which in medical terms is known as acute sinusitis. It’s an inflammatory illness which is caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. The most common symptoms are a blocked nose, a feeling of discomfort in the area of cheeks, eyes, forehead, and headaches.
Acute sinusitis sometimes develops into chronic sinusitis, which means that the inflammation process is permanent and the infections keep coming back. Other frequent conditions of sinuses include deviated septum, hay fever, and nasal polyps.
If the septum, which divides your nose, is further to the one side of your nose, we talk about deviated septum. As a consequence it blocks the airflow and you have difficulties with easy breathing through your nose.
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a medical condition in which you have chronic problems with sinuses due to an allergy. The most common allergens which may cause hay fever include pet dander, pollen, certain food products, and dust mites. Your sinuses overreact and they produce too much mucus, which blocks your nose, leads to sneezing, and an itching sensation.
Nasal polyps, on the other hand, often develop as a consequence of chronic conditions, such as frequent sinus infections, or allergies. They may also occur due to asthma inflammation. Nasal polyps can be described as small growths in your nasals.
If you’ve been dealing with sinus problems, remember that only your doctor can diagnose you due to a thorough examination. Only then the optimal treatment can be chosen for you.
Is It Only a Cold or Sinus Infection
The sinuses are located within the bones which surround our nose and can be described as hollow pockets. If they are perfectly healthy, they are filled with air and you have no problem. In case of an infection, however, they create mucus, which drains into your nose.
A common cold has very similar symptoms to a sinus infection, which means that you have a runny nose or it’s blocked, you may also have a headache, sore throat or a cough. However, in case of a cold the symptoms are less troublesome and they usually go away after a few days. It can also be cured with over-the-counter medicines.
A sinus infection, on the other hand, is often a complication after a common cold. You have probably developed it if your runny or blocked nose lasts for more than ten days or it comes back over and over. While a cold is a viral infection, a sinus infection is usually a bacterial one, it can also be caused by allergies.
In case of a sinus infection, apart from typically cold-like symptoms, you may also feel pressure behind your eyes or cheeks. You may also suffer from headaches, which are getting worse and worse, your nose is stuffy for more than a week and you can’t get rid of the accumulated mucus.
Also, the mucus is often thick and in green or yellow color. Cough and bad breath are common symptoms of a sinus infection too. Unfortunately, a sinus infection often requires medical treatment with antibiotics.
However, read about some safe and natural home remedies, which can also help you get rid of your sinus infection and pain that it connected with the condition.
How to Get Rid of Your Sinus Infection and Pain: Home Remedies
The home remedies to sinus infection described in this section will bring you quick relief and help you get rid of the problem faster. Sometimes, these solutions may prevent you from taking antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
1. Drink a Lot of Water
That’s the most essential piece of advice you should follow during a sinus infection. When you drink a lot of liquid, you moisturize the whole of your body, including sinuses. This, on the other hand, will help you get rid of the mucus that blocks your nose.
It’s recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. If you don’t like the taste of water, you may also consume other liquids, but make sure that they don’t contain sugar or other additives. Thus, you can also drink unsweetened tea, freshly squeezed juices, or clear broth. Avoid fizzy drinks, alcohol, and too much coffee.
This simple tip of staying hydrated will help you to eliminate the mucus easier and get rid of your sinus infection faster.
2. Flush Your Sinuses
Using saline and spray washes is actually a very good idea to clean your sinuses from mucus. You can buy a special set, known as neti pot, which is used to rinse the mucus off your nasal passages.
Use neti pot every time the sinus infections starts. It will bring you immediate relief, you nose will unblock, and you can also eliminate the viruses or bacteria that accumulated in your sinuses.
Various studies have proved that saline washes are actually one of the most effective remedies to sinus infections. They are especially helpful in case of chronic infections when you don’t want to take antibiotics too often. The devices such as neti pot are also very simple to use, which makes it a simple and effective solution to a sinus infection.
3. Try Inhalation
Inhalation is another safe and effective solution, which quickly moistens and clears your sinuses. You can purchase a special steam inhaler to do it, but it’s not a must as a bowl of hot water will be just enough.
Put your face over the bowl, cover your head with a towel and just inhale. The steam itself will quickly bring you relief, however, you can also add some herbs or oils to the water to make it even more powerful.
You can choose eucalyptus oil, menthol, or marjoram herb, which will fantastically loosen up the mucus which blocks your nose. Taking a hot bath with a few drops of an essential oil of your choice will give a similar result.
4. Try Spicy Food
Apparently, spicy food opens our nasal passages and releases the accumulated mucus. Therefore, when you fight against a sinus infection, try to use more hot spices, such as curry, wasabi, mustard, hot peppers, or horseradish.
Of course, probably you don’t feel like cooking during an infection so the easiest way to use something spicy is preparing hot tea with pepper. It will not only help your blocked nose, but it will also boost your metabolism.
Hot food acts very quickly and you will feel the positive result just after you consume something spicy. Your nose will fantastically unblock and if you continue to eat spicy food during a sinus infection, you will fight it faster. Hot food is also a great addition to medical treatments.
5. Purchase a Humidifier
If you have a tendency to a sinus infection, a humidifier will be a good investment. It is especially useful in cold months, when the air at our homes is usually very dry. A humidifier will moisturize the air, which is something your sinuses like.
However, you should control the level of humidity in your house, especially in your bedroom. Ideal and healthy humidity oscillates between thirty-five to fifty percent. Also, if you notice that your windows start to fog, it’s a signal that it’s too humid in the room.
It’s very important to keep your humidifier clean as sometimes it breeds mold. You should remember about it especially if you are an allergy sufferer.
6. Use Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric root consists of a very powerful compound, which is known as curcumin. It has wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Mix the turmeric powder together with a grated ginger root, boil the mixture for a few minutes and drink it in the form of tea.
Turmeric and ginger is an amazing combination, which will help you get rid of the sinus pressure and a blocked nose. What’s more, ginger will also calm your upset stomach – a common problem of people who suffer from a chronic sinus infection as the mucus which flow down your throat often irritates your stomach.
7. Warm Compress
A warm compress, applied to your forehead, cheeks, and nose, can bring you a quick relief in case of congested sinuses. Just put a towel into a hot water for a while and then place it on the mentioned areas.
Your sinuses like warmth as it helps the mucus that blocks your nose to become more liquid, which is then easier to remove. To make this remedy even more effective, you can add some salt to the water in which you’re going to soak the towel.
8. Use Coconut Oil
Some studies have proved that coconut oil, when applied on your nostrils, can help you reduce the nose congestion. Just warm up a small amount of the oil and gently massage it into the both sides of your nose. Do it with slow, circular movements. After a few minutes you should feel that your nose unblocked and released the accumulated mucus.
This solution may perfectly work for infants and small children, who often don’t tolerate nose drops and other medicines.
9. Drink Chicken Soup
One of the most traditional solutions to cold may also be helpful in fighting a sinus infection. Chicken soup is full of nutrients and is easy to digest. Moreover, the spices and herbs added to the soup may help you get rid of the mucus, which blocks your nose.
It’s important, though, to cook chicken soup slowly and there as many of nutritious ingredients as possible. Thus, prepare the soup from an ecological chicken and add there such spices and herbs as pepper, ginger, cloves, and thyme.
These ingredients have natural, anti-inflammatory qualities, which will help you to deal with the infection quicker and boost your immune system.
10. Drink Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is usually used to calm down an upset stomach. However, it can also be used to deal with a sinus infection faster. Just brew tea from fresh or dried leaves and sip it when it’s still warm, but not too hot.
You can also add there some other ingredients, which will also boost your organism to fight the infection quicker, such as lemon juice or a small amount of honey.
Your Sinus Infection and Allergies
If you often suffer from sinus infections and they keep coming back, it’s possible that an allergy is the underlying cause of it. Therefore, if you want to get rid of the problem, you need to find the culprit of your allergy first. There are three possibilities of allergens – indoor, outdoor, and dietary, which can cause nasal irritation or sinus infections.
Indoor allergens include mainly dust, pollen, mold spores, and animal dander. It’s almost impossible to eliminate them totally, but there are some things that may help. First of all, you should install the air filter, which you should clean or change regularly.
If you have a pet, it’s recommended to keep it outside. If that’s impossible, you need to clean and brush your pet regularly. Also, vacuum your house even a few times a week.
Next, you should check your air ducts as indoor allergens often hide there. There is a very simple trick which will stop the allergens from circulating around your house. Just place a cheese cloth to the outside part of your air vents. This way all the potential allergens will stay at the cloth.
An air purifier is another wonderful solution to allergens present at home. It’s a device which will improve the air circulation, filter, ionize, and remove the allergens from the space in which it’s installed. Thus, place the purifier in the room in which you spend the most of your time.
Quite a new, but interesting alternative is purchasing a Himalayan salt lamp. It will be a beautiful decoration of your bedroom and it will also naturally clean the space from various pollutants and allergens.
Unfortunately, if the cause of your problems lies in outdoor allergens, such as smog, pollen, or car exhaust fumes, not much can be done. Try to change the climate for some time at least twice a day. Consider wearing a mask when you’re outdoors in order to limit the amount of the inhaled allergens.
When you travel by a car, keep your windows up and set the ventilation in your car to circle do that you won’t inhale the allergens from the outside of the car.
Food is also a common cause of allergies so if you often deal with the problem of a sinus infection, have a closer look to the products you consume regularly. A good idea is to keep a food diary, in which you will note down everything you eat. After a few days or weeks you may identify the culprit of your problem.
The food products which are responsible for sinus infections include sugar, dairy products, and gluten. Eliminate each of them for some time and check if you can see any positive difference.
Sinus Infections and Your Immune System
If a sinus infection occurs again and again, but it’s not a consequence of an allergy, you need to build up your immune system. Probably your sinus infection usually starts as a common cold and then develops into a more serious condition. Thus, you need to prevent the colds too.
Taking vitamin C is the first thing you should start doing if your immune system is weakened and you often catch a cold or sinus infection. This vitamin is available in various forms, however, natural sources are always the best possible choice.
Therefore, increase the amount of consumed citrus fruit, red pepper, elder juice, and other food products rich in this vitamin. You can also supplement it by taking tablets or caplets. A good idea is to choose a supplement with Acerola – a great source of vitamin C.
A less known solution to problems with immunity is using oregano oil. It has amazing antiviral and antifungal properties as well as it’s also a natural antibiotic. You may use the oil both externally and internally.
Start adding just a drop or two to your tea, water, or juice and your organism will get stronger and more resistant to infections. You can also massage your nostril with the use of oregano oil or add a few drops to your steam inhalations.
This amazing oil has also other applications as it can be used to treat dandruff on your scalp or to eliminate fungus from your nails.
Another thing you should include into your daily diet when you want to boost your immunity is fermented cod liver oil. It is a wonderful source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D, which make our organism stronger and protect it from catching a cold or flu.
When to See a Doctor
You need to be aware that you might not be able to fight your sinus infection on your own. For sure you need to consult a doctor if nothing seems to help you or when the infection gets worse or keeps coming back.
Taking antibiotics right away is not a good option either. They tragically influence on your immune system and if every sinus infection you develop is treated with the antibiotics, you may easily get stuck in a vicious circle.
Therefore, it is recommended to visit an ears, nose, and throat specialist, who will examine you thoroughly and choose the best treatment for you. For sure, he should suggest you a CT scan of your nose and sinuses as sometimes the only way to bring you relief is by surgery.
However, there are also some other options available. Steroid and decongestants medicines might be helpful while in some cases sinus irrigation might be a solution to a chronic sinus infection.
The most important thing is to visit a doctor once your sinus infection doesn’t go away after a week as an untreated sinus infection often develops into a chronic condition, which is much more difficult to cure.
If your doctor recommends you a sinus surgery, you shouldn’t be afraid as it’s just a minor procedure in which a doctor will enlarge the opening in your sinuses, which are inflamed, swollen, or simply too small. This operation will drain your sinuses and your will finally be able to breathe easily.