Keep a humidifier running in your bedroom or other rooms where you spend a lot of time. Dry air can irritate your sinuses, but keeping air moist can help reduce congestion. Inhaling steam two to four times a day may help, too. Sit in the bathroom with the door closed and the shower running. Make sure the water is hot.
Enforce a No Smoking Zone
Fumes from harsh cleaning products, paints, hair spray, perfumes -- and most of all, cigarette smoking -- can irritate your sinuses. Don't let friends or family smoke in your home. Look for "green" cleaning products that are available in unscented varieties and are less likely to contain the harsh chemicals that can kick-start a sinus problem.
Drink More Water
If you have sinus problems, drink up! Consuming more water or juice will help thin out mucus and encourage drainage. Hot tea can also help. Don't overdo caffeine. Beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol can be dehydrating. Alcohol can actually worsen sinus swelling. Aim for eight or more 8-ounce glasses of water or other beverages each day.
Try Nasal Irrigation
Nasal irrigation -- also called nasal lavage or nasal wash -- can help keep your sinuses clean and clear. It involves using a mild sterile saline solution to flush out the thickened mucus and allergens causing your sinus congestion. Lean over the sink, squirt the solution into one nostril and let it drain through your nasal cavity and out the other nostril. Keep your mouth open and don't breathe through your nose.
Nasal Irrigation: What You Need
Rinse bottles, bulb syringes, and neti pots are available at most drugstores. You can buy a prefilled container or make your own saline solution. To make your own solution, mix about 16 ounces (1 pint) of lukewarm sterile water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Some people add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to take the sting out of the salt.
Your Sinuses Explained
Your sinuses -- air-filled pockets found within your cheeks, behind your forehead and eyebrows, on either side of the bridge of your nose, and behind your nose -- can get clogged easily. Healthy sinuses are lined with a thin layer of mucus that traps dust, germs, and other particles in the air. Ideally, tiny hair-like cilia sweep mucus and anything trapped in it out of the sinuses, down the back of your throat and into the stomach.
What Causes Sinus Problems?
Sinus pain and pressure occurs when the tissue in your nose and sinuses becomes swollen and inflamed, preventing the sinuses from draining properly. Change in temperature, allergies, smoking, the common cold -- pretty much anything that causes swelling in your sinuses or keeps the cilia from sweeping away mucus -- can cause sinus problems.
Avoid Nasal Allergens
Nasal allergies can set the stage for sinus problems by causing the mucous membranes of your nose to swell and block your sinuses. The result? Pain and pressure in your sinus cavity. Avoiding common nasal allergy triggers such as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen can go a long way toward preventing sinus problems. Seek treatment for your allergies.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.