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    Why a Cold Makes Your Sinuses Throb

    You've got a bad cold, the kind that makes you feel like your head is stuffed with cotton and your nose is a drippy, leaky faucet. On top of the congestion, your sinuses feel like they’re under pressure.

    Blame the cold virus. It has attacked the membranes of your nasal passages and your sinuses, which makes them swell up and sends mucus production into overdrive. That clogs up your sinuses, which causes sinus pain and pressure.

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    What to Do

    An antibiotic won’t help. They only fight bacteria, not the viruses that cause colds.

    Until your cold goes away, you can try one of these remedies to ease the sinus pain and pressure.

    Over-the-counter medications . Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels in the nasal passages. This should ease sinus congestion, lessen the pressure, and help with drainage. You can get these meds as pills, liquids, and nasal sprays.

    Some medicines combine a decongestant with an antihistamine, which can help your runny nose, or a pain reliever that can ease sinus pain.

    Don’t use nasal decongestant sprays for more than 3 days, because that can make your congestion worse after you stop.

    Decongestants can raise blood pressure. So if your blood pressure is already high, check with your doctor first. Also make that call if you have diabetes, an enlarged prostate, thyroid disease, or heart disease. While you take this type of medication, watch for side effects like nervousness, dizziness, and sleeplessness.

    Over-the-counter pain relievers -- such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen -- can ease the pain caused by sinus pressure. Read and follow the directions on the label on all your meds, so you don’t accidentally take too much.

    Moisten the air. To breathe easier, turn on a vaporizer while you sleep, or stand in a steamy shower for a few minutes. The steam will loosen tight mucus. You can hold a warm, wet washcloth to your nose or breathe in steam from a bowl of warm water to get a similar effect. Make sure it’s not too hot, so you don’t burn yourself.

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