Picture this: it is a crisp autumn day, there is a gentle breeze, and the golden leaves are falling slowly from the tree. It should be a scene of pure serenity. Suddenly, your head pounds, your nose feels stuffed, and your body becomes a battleground against discomfort and pain.
Sinusitis is often an uninvited guest during the autumn season. a common condition characterised by the inflammation of the sinuses. It can cause discomfort, headaches, and difficulty breathing.
But we, at Happiest Health, have got your back. There are home remedies that provide immense relief. While medical treatments are available, home remedies can alleviate symptoms quite effectively.
Before diving into home remedies, it is essential to understand sinusitis. It occurs when the mucous membranes of the sinus passages become inflamed and swollen. Sinuses are small air-filled cavities located behind the forehead, cheeks, and nose. They help to produce mucus, which traps dust and other particles before they can enter the lungs. This inflammation can be triggered by infections, allergies, or environmental irritants, leading to symptoms such as congestion, facial pain, and headache.
Nasal irrigation, also called nasal wash, is an effective home remedy for sinus. It involves flushing out mucus and irritants from the nasal passages with a saline solution. For individuals suffering from acute or chronic sinusitis, nasal wash helps reduce inflammation and flush out infected mucus. A 2020 study published in the Pubmed-indexed Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology found that nasal wash is a safe and effective adjunctive treatment for chronic sinusitis, with no significant adverse effects reported.
The ancient Indian nasal cleansing technique of jal neti is quite similar to this. In both techniques, one must tilt the head slightly forward to prevent the water from flowing into the throat, and gradually tilt the squeeze bottle (a neti vessel) or bulb syringes to allow the saline solution to flow into the nasal passage and out through the other nostril.
Dr Udyat Bhatnagar, ENT consultant from Moradabad, says one must concentrate, breathe calmly and not swallow the salt solution at any time while doing these phases: nasal irrigation, switching to the other nostril or repeating the process. “Gently blow your nose to remove any excess saline solution and mucus. Wash and dry the device after each use.”
Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water can be a simple and effective way to alleviate congestion and ease sinus pressure. Taking a hot shower also helps relieve nasal congestion. The steam breaks down the mucous clogging the nasal cavity and throat. The warm, moist air helps soothe the nasal passages and promotes mucous drainage, thereby, making us feel comfortable, according to Yamini Priya, Dietitian, Billroth Hospital, Chennai. Steam and warm air make the environment in the throat and nasal cavity unfavourable to the bacteria or viruses that cause the sinus infection in the first place.
To try this home remedy for sinusitis, boil water, pour it into a bowl, and lean over the bowl with a towel draped over your head to trap the steam. Inhale deeply for 10-15 minutes.
Herbal teas have long been used to provide relief from sinusitis symptoms. While they might not be a cure for sinusitis, they can help manage sinusitis symptoms effectively.
“Chamomile, ginger, and peppermint teas are popular choices due to their soothing effects,” says, Priya. “Chamomile, in particular, contains antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation. Ginger, with its anti-inflammatory properties, can alleviate symptoms like nasal congestion. Tulsi tea, has been studied for its potential to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.”
A 2020 research published in the BMC Complimentary Medicine and Therapies has shown that ginger extract can help reduce the severity of sinusitis symptoms, such as nasal congestion and headache. Moreover, it is as good as anti-allergics and causes little to no side effects.
She also says to be cautious about not overconsuming it as it might lead to acidity. Two to three cups are enough to provide it with its beneficial effects.
Honey for your nasal congestion
Honey is renowned for its antibacterial and soothing properties. Harvard Medical School also suggests that a spoonful of honey can be quite soothing for sore throat, cough, runny nose and nasal congestion associated with sinusitis. It also says that honey might not be the food to cure sinus infection, but it is a harmless way to address the symptoms.
“Adding honey to warm water or tea can alleviate throat irritation, a common symptom of sinusitis,” says Sonia Velarsan, a nutrigenomics and onco-nutrition specialist at the University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bengaluru. “Its antimicrobial properties may also help in managing infections associated with sinusitis.”
The spice rack: turmeric, garlic, and peppers
Spices are more than just flavour enhancers; they can also be potent allies in managing sinusitis. Velarsan says that turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic, with its allicin content, offers similar benefits in reducing inflammation.
Peppers, on the other hand, contain capsaicin, a compound that can ease pain, stimulate the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
While spicy foods can help with congestion, she says that it is essential to consume them in moderation to avoid potential digestive discomfort.
Sinusitis self-care and lifestyle changes
In addition to these home remedies for sinusitis, you can enhance your self-care routine by making lifestyle adjustments. This includes:
- Staying hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your nasal passages moist and help thin mucus.
- Using a humidifier: Adding moisture to the air can prevent dryness and ease congestion.
- Avoiding irritants: Limit exposure to allergens like pollen, dust, and pet dander, and avoid smoking or second-hand smoke.
- Maintaining nasal cleanliness: Regularly clean your home to reduce the presence of irritants.
While home remedies for sinusitis can provide relief, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen. If the symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks, it could be chronic sinusitis and it requires medications.