Are you among the 37 million Americans who have sinus problems each year? If so, there's a lot you can do at home that can make a difference. Even better, many of these things are simple and inexpensive.
First, it's crucial to figure out why you have sinus problems, says Jordan S. Josephson, MD, a Manhattan ear-nose-throat specialist and author of Sinus Relief Now. "Allergies are a fairly common reason for sinus problems," he says.
You come home after a day away, step into the house, and the symptoms hit: Watery eyes, scratchy throat, congestion. Could it be indoor allergies?
Allergies are very common. An estimated 50 million Americans are allergic to everything from dust and dander, to mold and mites.
But what about you? How can you be sure you have indoor allergies -- and pinpoint what’s causing them? To help you understand what’s behind your allergy symptoms, WebMD got tips from experts on how to recognize common allergy...
Other reasons? "A dry nose leads to more sinus problems," says Richard F. Lavi, MD, an allergist in Twinsburg, OH. "Nasal dryness leads to congestion, thickened mucus, and worsened sinusitis."
Whatever the trigger, you can pick and choose from these five tips, or try all of them.
1. Keep Your Cool
When the heat is on, the inside of your nose gets dry, says Russell B. Leftwich, MD, an allergist in Nashville, TN. Mucus isn't cleared as well as usual, which makes sinus problems more likely.
He can't recommend a specific indoor temperature range as ideal, but he offers this guide: "You are better off wearing a sweater and keeping it cooler than cranking it up so you are comfortable wearing only a T-shirt."
Let your nose guide your indoor temperature range. "If you are not waking up with nosebleeds or congestion, that is probably a good temperature range,” Lavi says.
2. Humidify Your Air
Keep your home from becoming too dry or too humid. "Dust mites love greater than 50% humidity," Lavi says. If you're allergic to those, that's bad news for your sinuses.
Too much humidity indoors can also encourage the growth of mold, which may also set off sinus problems for some people, says Todd Kingdom, MD, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Experts have different views on the value of room humidifiers for creating a sinus-friendly home.
"A room humidifier never makes a difference,” Leftwich says. “There is too much air to humidify."
But Josephson says using humidifiers in the bedroom beginning in October through March or April can make a difference in keeping sinus problems at bay.