Allergy, Nose & Sinus
5 DIY Ways To Relieve Sinus Congestion, As Recommended By An ENT Specialist
October 13, 2021
Sinus infections occur when there is swelling or inflammation of the tissues lining the paranasal sinuses which are cavities within the facial bones surrounding the nose. Known as sinusitis, this condition occurs when the sinuses are blocked and filled with mucous (fluid from the nose and sinuses). Sinusitis can also be caused by allergies, the common cold or flu, anatomical problems in the nose and poor immunity.
If you have sinusitis, you may experience symptoms like facial pressure, thick or coloured mucous, loss of sense of smell and thick greenish or yellowish phlegm. Most sinus infections can be managed by a general practitioner. However, if they are severe or keep returning, you may want to see an ENT Specialist in Singapore for a thorough assessment to look for an underlying cause.
Before you visit a doctor, here are five DIY sinus treatment methods that may help you ease the discomfort and get rid of sinus infections, as recommended by Dr Gan Eng Cern, an ENT Specialist in Singapore.
1. Neti-pots and sinus rinses
Using Neti-pots and other types of sinus rinses to flush the nose and sinuses with saline solutions frequently will help to bring relief to your sinus infection and is one of the ways to clear a blocked nose. This method of nasal irrigation will also help to shorten the duration of the sinus infection. It helps to clear sinus drainage from the nose so your nose feels less stuffy and you find it easier to breathe. The mucus is also thinned out, making it easier for you to expel the discharge along with other possible allergens or irritants. Use distilled or cooled boiled water and do it once or twice a day.
Certain essential oils, such as Eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil, can be helpful in relieving symptoms of sinus congestion caused by allergies, inflammation and the common cold. You can inhale it directly or do steam inhalation using a bowl or diffusers to disperse the essential oils through the air. You can also add a few drops of the oil into your bathwater for an aromatherapy bath to soothe your sinus congestion.
In a hot country like Singapore, the majority of us sleep or work in an air-conditioned environment. Air-conditioned rooms can result in drier air which may cause some irritation to the nose and sinuses. Using a humidifier to provide moisture to the air can help to reduce sinus congestion by making your mucus thin out and get it flowing again. Dry and thick mucus in your nose can form crusts that hinder sinus drainage, resulting in a blocked nose. Apart from dry air, air pollutants and tobacco smoke can also irritate the mucous membranes in your nose, causing a sinus infection.
4. Warm compresses and steam inhalation
Placing a warm, wet towel on your face to help ease sinus pain, particularly around the nose, cheeks and eyes to alleviate facial pressure is another effective DIY sinusitis treatment method. You can also breathe in steam from a bowl of warm water or take a hot shower to help open up your nasal passages and loosen secretions. Place the warm towel on your face for a few minutes and alternate with a cold compress for 30 seconds. You can do this several times a day.
5. Over-the-counter (OTC) medication
There are various OTC (over-the-counter) medications including oral decongestants, nasal decongestants, and mucolytics. The decongestants help open up your nasal passages and reduce blood flow to the nasal membranes, reducing swelling and congestion. This can also bring relief to the pain and pressure in your sinuses and head. Nasal sprays can shrink the swollen nasal membranes to allow you to breathe more comfortably. For young children, nasal suction is recommended to keep the mucus loose and nasal passages clear. However, do note that OTC oral or nasal decongestants are not meant to be used for a prolonged period of time (not longer than 1 week) as these can cause serious side effects and more problems in the nose. It is best to consult an ENT Specialist in Singapore for proper sinusitis treatments if symptoms persist.
Seeking medical help
Drink plenty of fluids and make sure that you have adequate rest and sleep. If your symptoms are not responding to the above-mentioned methods, you should visit an ENT clinic in Singapore early. The ENT Specialist will be able to determine the root cause of your frequent or troublesome sinus infections (e.g. nasal allergies, swollen turbinates, deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps etc) and propose the appropriate sinusitis treatments.
Medically reviewed by Dr Gan Eng Cern