Sinus infections affect a huge number of people, including 31 million people in the United States alone. These infections can last for only a few days or carry on for months at a time.
Also known as sinusitis, sinus infections can feel debilitating, depending on how bad the pressure is in your head, as well as your other symptoms. There are ways to treat it, though, whether you prefer natural methods, over-the-counter drugs, or something more powerful.
So if you're wondering how to get rid of a sinus infection, keep reading. We'll tell you all about sinus infections, how to treat them, and what to do to prevent them in the first place.
What is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection, also known as Acute Sinusitis may be confused with a common cold, but they're not the same thing. A cold can lead to a sinus infection, though, since more bacteria and viruses are brought to your nose each time you touch it and the inner swelling in the nose and sinuses can prevent proper drainage--leading to a warm, moist environment: the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
Symptoms of sinus infections include, but are not limited to, a runny or stuffy nose that lasts more than a week, pressure in your eye and cheek area, fever, cough, and postnasal drip.
Sinus Infection Prevention
There are some things you can do to prevent a sinus infection, depending on the cause. If your infection isn't caused by a structural issue or allergies, the following things can help with prevention:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid people who have the cold or flu
- Get a flu vaccination each year
- Reduce stress
- Eat an antioxidant-rich diet
These things aren't guaranteed to prevent an infection. But it's always better to try to prevent one than deal with fixing one later.
Natural Treatment Methods for Sinus Infections
If you prefer to stay away from medications, there are some natural ways to treat sinus infections.
This natural remedy is extremely simple. All you need is some water, baking soda, and salt. Simply make a saline (saltwater) solution and pour it into one nostril. The solution will flow out the other nostril, taking mucus and allergens with it.
You can use various tools to pour the saline solution. Bulb syringes and neti pots work well. Or you can purchase pre-filled containers.
- Start by boiling about 1 quart of tap water.
- When it's cooled down to a warm temperature, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of non-iodized salt (pickling/canning salt is best).
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda and mix.
- Tilt your head forward so one nostril is pointed down over a sink. As you pour your solution, keep your mouth open and don't breathe through your nose.
- If the solution enters your mouth, don't swallow it. Spit it out instead.
- Blow your nose, then repeat with the other nostril. Clean your materials when you're finished and let them air dry.
Bromelain is an enzyme from pineapple stems and is sold as a supplement. It's used to help reduce swelling. Talk to your doctor before taking bromelain since it may interact negatively with other medications.
Take a Shower:
Hot steam can help get mucus and debris moving, so taking a shower can help reduce sinus problems. Add drops of eucalyptus or menthol to make this method even more effective.
Spice Things Up:
If you like "hot" foods, now's the time to eat them. The spices that create that heat are great for opening your nasal passages. If you're not sure what to try, mustard, curry, wasabi, and horseradish will all do the trick.
Over-the-Counter Treatments for Sinus Infections
If you'd rather use an over-the-counter method for treating your sinus infection, you have several options to choose from. If these over-the-counter methods don't help, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection.
Inflammation and swelling can be decreased by taking decongestants. This works because the medication narrows the nose's blood vessels.
You'll find plenty of decongestants to choose from at your local drug store. This type of medication may keep you awake for a while, so you may not want to take it at night.
Nasal sprays shrink blood vessels in the nose, just like decongestants. They differ in administration, though. Instead of ingesting a pill or liquid, you'll spray the solution right into your nose. Be sure to read and follow the package instructions. Please note that some sprays, like Afrin®, can cause worsened congestion if used long-term.
Steroids are available to help with sinus inflammation and swelling. These aren't the same medications that are used for help in building muscle.
This type of steroids--glucocorticoids--are given as a nasal spray. An injection or pills may be recommended by your doctor if your infection remains after you've tried other methods and it lingers for more than 12 weeks.
If you experience ongoing chronic sinus problems, you may want to consider some more intensive options than medicines or herbs. Surgical procedures are available to help with sinus issues.
How does sinus surgery help? By opening up your sinus pathways. Blockages will also be cleared. This procedure will help your sinuses drain properly.
Your surgeon may remove bone, tissue, tumors, membranes, or polyps to clear your sinus passages.
Another option would be a non-invasive dilation procedure that gently opens the sinuses without any cutting or tissue removal.
How to Get Rid of a Sinus Infection: Try these Methods Today
Sinus infections can really lower your quality of life, especially if they occur often. So if you're looking for how to get rid of a sinus infection, try these methods to see if they work for you.
While surgery can be effective, it's also quite invasive. If you live or work in the Scottsdale/Phoenix Metro area, please give the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center a call today for an appointment to learn more. The Phoenix area specialty sinus clinic offers an alternate method that's both quicker, in-office, less expensive, and more effective. Call 480-567-7098 to learn more about this method of treating sinusitis and see if you are a candidate!