Whether it's a cold in winter or allergies in spring and fall, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, and sinus pain are common symptoms. Understanding the causes and treatments will help you manage your sinus problems.
Make these six tips part of your sinus action plan.
1. Discover What Causes Your Sinus Problems
Certain people are more prone to sinus problems. You may have narrow sinus passages, or a deviated nasal septum. Nasal polyps can also grow in sinus passages and block drainage. Whatever the cause, to help avoid sinus problems it's important to keep the sinus pathways in each sinus open so they can drain properly.
2. Humidify Your Indoor Air
A dry climate or heated indoor air dries out your nasal membranes. Dryness can result in crusting and cracking, and as a result, mucus isn’t cleared as effectively, which may increase your risk of sinus problems.
Add humidity to your indoor air but keep it low in winter, and consider using a room humidifier in the bedroom from October until April.
3. Irrigate Your Nasal Passages
Irrigate your nasal passages with a saline solution to remove allergens, irritants, and excess mucus. You can use a drug store saline spray. Or make your own solution at home and use a nasal irrigation system such as a Neti pot. To make your own saline mixture, combine about 16 ounces (1 pint) of lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Try adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to buffer the solution to make it gentler on the nose.
Put the mixture into a clean Neti pot. Tilt your head over your sink at a 45-degree angle. Place the spout into your top nostril and gently pour the solution in. The saline water will flow through your nasal cavity into the other nostril and out. Blow your nose to get rid of remaining water. Repeat the steps on your other nostril.
It's important to note that, according to the CDC, if you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
4. Open Up Your Sinuses
Apply a warm moist washcloth to your face several times a day. This can help open up the transition spaces in your sinuses.
Keep your nasal passages moist. Inhale steam two to four times a day. One simple way: Sit in the bathroom with the hot shower running.
And drink plenty of fluids, which will help thin the mucus.
5. Avoid Sinus Irritants
Many environmental irritants can worsen your sinus problems, such as pollution, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, hairspray, and any other material that gives off fumes. If you smoke, it's important to quit. Avoid others who smoke, or ask them to smoke outside. On high air pollution days, stay indoors if possible.
Should you get a HEPA air filter for your bedroom or office? That depends on what irritates your sinuses. HEPA filters are good at removing airborne particles related to dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. But allergens don't just remain in the air. They can be found in your carpets, upholstery, and other areas. If your sinus problems are triggered by allergies, ask your doctor if a HEPA air filter makes sense for you.