Have you been waking up with headaches or feeling stuffy? Does your head constantly feel heavy? Do your eyes hurt to the point of nausea? You probably have sinusitis. Sinusitis can be inconvenient or even painful at times, but it is usually not severe. Let’s discuss about its causes and some effective and simple home remedies to reduce common sinus problems.
What is a sinus?
A sinus is a hollow, air-filled cavity. These hollow cavities are in the skull and connected to the nasal airway by a narrow hole in the bone (ostium). Humans have four pairs of these cavities each referred to as the:
- Frontal sinus (in forehead).
- Maxillary sinus (behind cheeks).
- Ethmoid sinus (between the eyes).
- Sphenoid sinus (deep behind the ethmoids).
The four pair of sinuses are often described as a unit and termed as “paranasal sinuses.” The cells of the inner lining of each sinus are mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells and some cells that are part of the immune system (macrophages, lymphocytes, and eosinophils). Functions of the sinuses include humidifying and warming inspired air, insulation of surrounding structures (eyes, nerves), increasing voice resonance, and as buffers against facial trauma. The sinuses decrease the weight of the skull (Imagine, even skull has efficiency standards!).
What is a sinus infection?
A sinus infection occurs when a pathogenic microorganism (virus, bacterium, or a fungus) grows within a sinus and causes intermittent blockage of the sinus ostium. Drainage of mucus and pus often occur when the blockage is relieved. The drainage usually goes from the nasal passages to the throat or out the nostrils. Such infections also cause inflammation (an influx of immune cells and swelling of the sinus tissue) of one or more sinuses. This can to block the openings of the sinuses and leads to discomfort. Sinusitis can also be caused by allergy and irritation of the sinuses.
Symptoms of Sinusitis
The symptoms of acute and chronic sinusitis are similar. Acute sinusitis commonly occurs when an individual gets a cold. Some of the common symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Pain when the forehead is touched, indicating inflammation of the frontal sinuses.
- Pain in the upper jaw and cheeks, indicating inflammation of the maxillary sinuses.
- Swelling of the eyelids and pain between the eyes, indicating inflammation of the ethmoid sinuses. This may also result in nasal stuffiness, diminished sense of smell and tenderness when the nose is touched.
- Earaches, tenderness in the neck and throbbing in the top portion of the head, indicating inflammation of the sphenoid sinuses.
- Coughing which may worsen at night.
- Avoid allergens like smoke, dust, pollens, or whatever you are allergic to.
- If you have upper respiratory tract infection, then try to avoid excess consumption of dairy products like cheese, milk, ice cream, etc.
- Dip a clean cloth in warm water and apply it on your face several times a day. This will relieve the sinus pressure.
- Drink lots of water and other fluids, especially hot ones like herbal tea to keep yourself hydrated all times so as to keep the nasal secretion thin.
- Take steam 2-3 times a day, it will relieve the congestion.
- If you are already suffering from nasal congestion, avoid air travel or use a nasal decongestant spray before the flight departure.
- Avoid white sugar; cakes, pies, rice, white floor and candies when you have sinusitis, as eating these things will make the condition worse.
- Blow one nostril at a time. This will help prevent pressure buildup in the ears, which can send bacteria further back into the sinus passages.
- Steep 1-2 teaspoon of thyme in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink a cupful of this mixture three times a day. Because of its strong antiseptic properties, thyme is good for respiratory infections.
- Sipping hot teas made with herbs such as fenugreek, fennel, anise, or sage may help move mucus even more and keeps it flowing.
- When suffering from sinus congestion, try eating spicy foods. Spicy foods will help in improving the flow of mucous within nasal passages. When the sinus passage opens up, you can get instant relief.
- When suffering from sinus congestion it is important to make efforts for steady mucous flow in the nasal passage. By using a humidifier to open up clogged nasal passages you can get instant relief. The best solution here is to stand in hot shower for some minutes so that steam builds up. Now breathe the soothing vapors to get some relief. Repeat the process twice a day until you are not having any problem.
- Press your thumbs to the either side of the nostril to bring a fresh blood supply to the area and soothing relief.
- Inhalation therapy is another popular home remedy to get instant relief from sinus congestion. For this therapy, take a bowl of hot water and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Now inhale the steam generated for the hot water solution. Repeat this process at least five to eight times in a day.
- A teaspoon of black cumin seeds tied in a thin cotton cloth provides relief when inhaled.
- Mangoes are very effective in the treatment and prevention of sinusitis. Hence in the season of mango, eat lots of mangoes. Mangoes are rich source of vitamin A, which is very effective in preventing the common infections from occurring.
- When suffering from sinus congestion, you must drink hot herbal tea regularly as it can help to make the mucus thin. The herbs included in the herbal tea will help in flushing out the toxins that are inside your body. So, this way you can get double benefits by drinking hot herbal tea.
- Tea prepared from fenugreek seeds is also one of the very effective home remedies for sinusitis. You can also drink tea made from fenugreek seeds on a daily basis, as this will keep the infection of sinusitis away.
- Add few drops of eucalyptus oil to 1/2 cup boiling water. Pour the mixture into a bowl and inhale the steam for 10 – 15 minutes with your head covered with a large towel.
- Put few drops of eucalyptus oil on your handkerchief and sniff periodically.
- Garlic, onions, horseradish, hot pepper and ginger added to any soup broth will open the sinuses.
- Bathe in warm water to which a few drops of eucalyptus oil or leaves have been added.
- Eat a paste of tulsi leaves (ocimum sanctum) and honey early in the morning.
- For first two days of getting sinusitis, it is better to have only liquids. You can start eating solid food from the third day onwards. You should keep yourself well hydrated by drinking lots of water and fresh fruit juices.
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon of un-iodized salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a pint of water and inhale it through nasal inhaler.
- Drinking warm vegetable juices is also one of the best cures for sinusitis.
- The onions that you use for cooking or making salads can also bring relief from sinus congestion. Take a fresh onion and roughly cut it into pieces and then sniff the cut pieces of onion. Even eating raw onions can be helpful in the treatment of sinus congestion.
- Tomato is an excellent home remedy for getting relief from sinus congestion. You can make a hot tomato juice at home by boiling one cup of tomato juice along with one tablespoon of chopped garlic, half tablespoon of hot sauce, one tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of celery salt. Try to drink this homemade juice while it is hot at least twice a day.
An important thing to remember is that even though sinusitis is not considered a severe condition, it is still important to see a doctor.