Sinus Tip 3: Ventilate Your House
An energy-efficient house is not necessarily a sinus-friendly one, Leftwich says. "You seal up a house to make it more energy efficient, and you end up with stale air that aggravates sinus problems," he says.
The solution: "Opening up the house on a warmer day to clear the air is a good thing," he says, provided it's not a high-pollen day that will set off your allergies.
The value of having air ducts on your heating and cooling system cleaned is another area of debate among experts. Leftwich calls it a waste of time and money. But Josephson says if the air smells dusty or moldy, it might be worth a try.
Sinus Tip 4: Be Water-Wise
Drinking a lot of fluids can help keep your sinuses functioning well. "At least a quart a day" is the recommendation of Leftwich. Most of that should be plain water, he says.
"The more the better," says Josephson. He tells his patients to drink enough water every day so their urine is generally clear.
Salt water nasal rinses for your nose can help, too. You can buy a kit or mix up your own at home. The recipe: Mix about 16 ounces (1 pint) of lukewarm distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Some people add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to take the sting out of the salt. Using a bulb syringe, flush your nasal cavities to clean out mucus and debris.
Neti pots are another way to irrigate your nasal cavities, Josephson suggests. This centuries-old remedy has gained popularity recently, thanks in part to coverage on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in other media.
The pot looks like a tea pot with an elongated spout. The devices are sold widely, for about $10 to $20, online and in drugstores and health food stores.
To use the pot, typically you mix about a pint of lukewarm distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water with a teaspoon of salt. Next, tilt your head over a sink at an angle of about 45 degrees. Place the pot's spout into your top nostril and gently pour the solution in.
The salt water will flow through your nasal cavity, into the other nostril, and perhaps into your throat. Blow your nose to eliminate any water, then repeat the steps on the other nostril.
Cleaning the pots regularly is crucial.
Sinus Tip 5: Avoid Household Irritants
Cigarette smoke, cleaning products, hairspray, and other materials that give off fumes can all make your sinus problems worse.
"Anything that has a strong odor of fumes can be a problem, especially if you are susceptible," Leftwich says. "Cigarette smoke is probably the No. 1 offender for sinuses." He suggests asking family members to smoke outside or, better yet, to give up the habit.
If you're sensitive to pet dander, bathe or clean your pets weekly, says Lavi. As difficult as it is for pet owners, limiting exposure to your animals at night can help.