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At Home Treatments for Sinuses

Updated on July 27, 2015

You're in bed, starting to get comfortable, when all of a sudden you hear a noise. What is it? The floors creaking? No, that's not it. A bird outside? No, it's way too late for birds to be making noise. Oh wait, that whistling noise isn't a bird or creaking floors, it's your stuffy nose.This is a situation I'm all too familiar with. My own nose can function as a blowout noisemaker at parties. If you suffer from seasonal allergies or chronic sinusitis then you're familiar with this as well.

The sinuses are hollow cavities, that are all connected, in the skull. The sinus cavities are: maxillary sinuses (largest) in the cheekbones, frontal sinuses in the low center of the forehead, ethmoid sinuses between the eyes, and sphenoid sinuses in bones behind the nasal cavitities.

With most people, the sinuses are empty except for a thin layer of mucus. The inside of the nose has ridges called turbinates. Turbinates help with humidity and filter air. Then the nose is divided by a thin wall called the septum. The sinuses drain through a small pathway called the middle meatus.

Sinus problems that can arise are: acute and chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, and a deviated septum. With these tips you can lessen the pain and stuffiness that comes with these problems.

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A neti pot will help flush out mucus that doesn't drain properly.Sea salt or non-iodized salt is best.
A neti pot will help flush out mucus that doesn't drain properly.
A neti pot will help flush out mucus that doesn't drain properly.
Sea salt or non-iodized salt is best.
Sea salt or non-iodized salt is best.

Neti Pot

A neti pot is a teapot-shaped device used for flushing out your sinuses. You mix in a saline solution, stick the spout in one of your nostrils, tilt your head, and let the water flow out the other nostril. Sometimes your sinuses don't drain properly resulting in a sinus headache. The neti pot helps to relieve this congestion and flush out the build up. It also has the added bonus of lessening dark circles under your eyes if they're caused by sinus congestion. In my experience the neti pot has been the best and easiest form of treating my congestion above all else. But there are a few things to keep in mind when using one.

  1. Only use water that has been boiled for at least 5 minutes, distilled, microfiltered (through 0.2 micron), or bottled.
  2. Clean your device often with boiled or distilled water to prevent growth of bacteria. Improper cleaning can cause bacteria and fungi to form on the spout and cause repeat irritation.
  3. You can use ready made saline solution packs or just regular salt. If you choose salt use non-iodized salt or sea salt. While iodine is a necessary nutrient, using iodized salt can lead to irritation in your nasal passages. Typically they recommend using 1 teaspoon of salt but I find that half of that works fine for me. If you would like you can also add a pinch of baking soda.


How to Use a Neti Pot

Increasing the humidity will helps your sinuses drain.
Increasing the humidity will helps your sinuses drain.

Humidifier

When the air is too dry, the mucus in your nose and sinuses will not drain properly. When this happens it causes congestion and sinus pain. The nose is supposed to be able to drain on its own but heating systems can over-dry nasal passages, aggravate allergies, and sinusitis. Usually used during the colder months a humidifier will add moisture to the air to help relieve congestion.

  1. If you're using your humidifier regularly clean it at least once a week. Instructions for cleaning typically include using and soaking parts of your humidifier in white vinegar.
  2. For an added benefit add Tea Tree Oil to your humidifier. Tea Tree Oil is antibacterial and antiviral which makes it perfect if you are battling a sinus infection.

Diet and Sinuses

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Peppermint will act as an expectorant.Flaxseeds are a good source of omega 3's.
Peppermint will act as an expectorant.
Peppermint will act as an expectorant.
Flaxseeds are a good source of omega 3's.
Flaxseeds are a good source of omega 3's.

Additional Tips

Breathe Easy Tea: Contains herbs to promote respiratory health and relieve congestion. Regular peppermint tea also works.

Nasal Spray: There are nasal sprays available that you can use once a day without the dreaded rebound effect. Using in conjunction with my neti pot has given me excellent results. You can easily find these sprays at the grocery store.

Omega 3's: Fatty acids that decrease inflammation. You can include foods that are rich in omega 3's or buy in supplement form. Foods that are rich in this fatty acid include salmon, cod, sardines, avocado, turmeric, and flaxseed oil.

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