Sinus pressure and nasal congestion can happen due to a lot of reasons: cold, flu, allergies, etc., being the main factors. When the nasal passages get inflamed, they start secreting more mucus to deal with the irritation. However, excessive mucus production can block the channels and build up pressure in the sinuses. This then leads to other symptoms like headache, pain in the cheekbones, irritation at the bridge of the nose, feeling of fullness in the ears, etc. Luckily, there are many methods to feel better and ease the symptoms.

Home Treatments

The most important thing to do when you experience any symptoms of blocked sinuses is to keep the nasal passages moist. While some people assume that dry air would help to clear the congestion in case of a runny nose, it actually works the other way around and makes the symptoms worse. So, avoid drying out of the nasal membranes at all costs. Instead, try the following simple ideas in order to keep them moist.

  • Drink as many fluids as possible. This would help to thin out the mucus and clear the nasal congestion and blocked sinuses.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier. You can use them to keep the humidity level of your bedroom under control during nighttime as well.
  • Take a bath in warm water. This would help to keep the nasal passage moist and ease sinus pressure.
  • Try a nasal saline spray after consulting with an ENT specialist. The saltwater would help to keep the nasal passages from drying out.
  • Place a wet towel dipped in warm water on your face. This would help to ease the discomfort of blocked nasal passages.
  • Keep your head elevated during sleep. This would help to open up the nasal passage and make it more comfortable to breathe.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Although over-the-counter medicines do not need a doctor’s prescription, it is always better to consult with a specialist before you try any self-treatment option. This is especially important if your symptoms are getting worse, if you have another medical condition that requires you to take some medicines, or if you are allergic to any particular drug. An ENT specialist can also recommend the right medications depending upon the severity of your condition. Usually, the experts at community healthcare centers recommend the following medicines to treat nasal congestion and sinus pressure.

  • Decongestants – These drugs can help to reduce the inflammation in the nasal passages and relieve the sinus pressure. Naphazoline, oxymetazoline, and phenylephrine are the most commonly suggested medicines to ease the symptoms. They can be used as nasal sprays or taken as pills. Note that if your symptoms persist even after the use of a decongestant for 3 days, you should consult a doctor for further treatment.
  • Antihistamines – These drugs are recommended to patients who are experiencing nasal congestion and sinus pressure due to an allergic reaction. These medicines can help to relieve sneezing and runny nose, and you can also take them along with a decongestant for better relief. Yet again, you should talk to a doctor before trying to use antihistamines and decongestants together.
  • Painkillers – These drugs do not directly work to clear up the nasal congestion, but can be of great help in dealing with the headache and pain caused due to sinus pressure. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen are the most commonly suggested medicines in such cases.

Using Neti Pot       

Many ENT specialists also recommend using a Neti pot to ease the symptoms of nasal congestion and sinus pressure. This nasal irrigation method is usually advised to patients who have undergone a sinus surgery recently, as a Neti pot can easily clear away the mucus build up in the nasal passages. This is also a good option for people who are allergic to environmental irritants. That is because a Neti pot can provide better relief from the symptoms without the use of any medications in most of the cases. Besides, studies say that nasal irrigation has always been effective to alleviate sinus pressure and the resulting pain.

There are many small hair-like structures, known as cilia, inside our nasal passage. These structures go backward and forward to move the mucus either to the nose or to the back of the throat. A Neti pot works by using a saline solution that increases the movement and speed of the cilia, which in turn helps to remove the allergens or other irritants causing sinus problems from the body more effectively. There are no reported side effects of using a Neti pot either, and the minor irritation or stinging can be easily dealt with by reducing the level of salt in the saline solution. You can also change the temperature of the water and adjust the usage frequency in case you feel any discomfort in using a Neti pot.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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