If you have ever had a sinus infection, then you have experienced sinusitis. There are two different types of sinusitis- acute and chronic sinusitis. Firstly, with acute sinusitis your symptoms occur for less than four weeks, and is usually easier to diagnose and treat. However, with chronic sinusitis symptoms and inflammation last for at least 8-12 weeks. The difference in time is a key way to identify whether you are suffering with acute or chronic sinusitis.
Some of the shared sinusitis symptoms you may experience include:
• Congested or runny nose (sometimes producing green or yellowish discharge
• Pain/ sensitivity in facial areas and activities like chewing, coughing, swallowing, etc.
• Fever or above average temperature (not as common)
Having sinus infections can be difficult to deal with. Even the simplest tasks can turn into a painful chore. Luckily, there are a few at home methods that can help ease the painful symptoms that chronic sinusitis brings.
Steam- Helping keep your sinuses moist and hydrated can help to relieve the pressure. Taking hot showers regularly and leaning over a bowl of hot water (with a towel covering both your head and the bowl) for about 10 minutes are great ways to keep your sinuses hydrated.
Nasal Irrigation- A popular way to help ease sinusitis symptoms is nasal irrigation (like the Neti Pot) with saline solution. Each product will have their own directions to follow, but some general directions are: fill the pot with saline solution, turn your head to a 45 degree angle over the sink, place the pot spout into the top of the nostril and carefully pour the saline solution into that nostril. Repeat on the other nostril if necessary. Be sure to sanitize the pot after every single time you use it and only use distilled water. Water from the sink may have bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants that could worsen your condition.
Over the Counter Medications (OTC)- Sometimes home remedies don’t completely relieve the symptoms, so decongestants can help come to your rescue. These medications may help to relieve the symptoms by narrowing the blood vessels, which reduces inflammation and improves drainage from the sinuses. Be sure to ask your pharmacist which OTC they recommend as there are specific medications for those with high blood pressure and sinus irritation due to allergies.
Spray- Using natural saline nasal sprays during the day and before bed is another great, simple way to help break up the congestion in your sinuses. These can be found at the drugstore and used throughout the day to help keep your nasal passages moist.
Know Your Triggers- Recognizing what causes or worsens your sinusitis is key to helping avoid or ease painful symptoms. Common triggers include weather changes, cigarette smoke, strong odors, pollen, etc. Arizona’s desert air and greenery has developed the “Arizona nose”, which causes runny noses, continuous headaches, and congestion. There have also been warmer springs in Arizona which have flowers and plants blooming early, bringing about more pollen- an allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare and the enemy of Phoenix allergies.
Helpful tips are to close your doors and windows, change your clothes when coming from outside then taking a shower, and using HEPA filters inside (make sure to change the filters often!).
Most importantly, make sure to get plenty of rest while your body is fighting the infection.
Unfortunately, home remedies only provide temporary relief, can lead to dependencies, and frankly do not work for the majority of patients.. The worst part about home remedies is that we eventually find ourselves spending too much time and money on what feels like a never ending issue. If you are taking over-the-counter medications and your symptoms get worse, last for longer than 10 days, are accompanied by a fever, or occur several times a year, then it is time to schedule an appointment with your doctor and find a more permanent sinus relief solution for you.
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