When sinuses become congested with mucus, the congestion causes pressure that may lead to trouble breathing or sinus headaches. Reducing congestion in the nasal passages can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus pressure. A combination of decongestion methods may relieve congestion better than using only one method.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Saline nasal spray or nasal irrigation kit
- Facial Tissue
- Room humidifier
- Oral or nasal decongestant (prescription or over-the-counter)
- Broth-based soup or tea
Spray nasal saline into your nose as directed, then blow your nose to remove the thinned and loosened mucus. As an alternative, pour saline solution from a nasal irrigation system, also called a "neti pot," into one nostril while your head is tilted to the opposite side. Allow the saline solution to drain into your other nostril and into the sink, then blow your nose and repeat with the other nostril.
Take oral or nasal decongestants according to package instructions or as directed by your doctor. Keep in mind that over-the-counter decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, which is a popular treatment for nasal congestion, must be obtained from the pharmacy counter. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about all over-the-counter and prescription drugs you take to avoid drug interactions. Only use nasal decongestants for a few days unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Take an oral antihistamine when you know you won't need to drive or operate machinery. Antihistamines reduce mucus in the body, but may cause drowsiness.
Sleep with a room humidifier running. The added moisture in the air may thin the mucus that is causing the sinus pressure.
Prop yourself up with pillows at night or when resting in bed. Lying horizontally may worsen sinus pressure because gravity does not allow the mucus to drain.
Drink hot liquids, such as tea, or eat hot broth-based soup to loosen mucus and relieve sinus pressure. Blow your nose gently during the meal and after it.
Tips and warnings
- If your doctor prescribes oral antibiotics for your sinusitis, take all of the antibiotics, even though you may feel better after only a few doses.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen if your sinus pressure causes pain in the face or a headache.
- Do not take decongestants if you suffer from high blood pressure because one of their side effects is elevated blood pressure. Do not take decongestants with MAO inhibitors.
- If congestion persists more than two weeks or causes significant distress, see a doctor. A doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics if a sinus infection (sinusitis) is causing your sinus pressure, or steroids if your sinuses stay chronically inflamed.
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