Hopefully spring is here and winter sickness and sniffles are on their way out! So maybe this post should be held until fall… but then, I thought… sometimes seasonal allergies can linger and progress into a sinus infection. So I figured I’d better arm you now before the seasonal allergy season starts, so that you can know what to do to help ward off an infection!
The science behind a sinus infection is that congestion sits in the sinuses and gets infected. Simple, and not so simple. So, not all sinus pressure is created equal. Usually the pressure starts, but just because there is pressure doesn’t mean there is an infection and just because you treat the infection with antibiotics doesn’t mean the pressure is going away or that you can’t get re-infected. The super important secret is to get the congestion to drain. If you end up needing an antibiotic for the infection it isn’t necessarily the fix all, you need to get the infected congestion out as well. Not only that, but most sinus infections are viral and not bacterial, so an antibiotic won’t be effective on a virus.
Sinus infections are NO fun. I’ve had some very severe ones and I swore I was going to die the pain was so bad. I actually would have preferred going into labor over that infection. It was SO painful I had to sleep upright at night. If I tried to lay flat the throbbing and pounding in my head was unbearable. It lingered for about three weeks and with A LOT of persistence and hard work I was able to get rid of it without antibiotics…. So it is possible!
The following are some ideas of things you can do to help with the pressure, but more importantly, getting the fluid to drain. The first two we usually say “Duh” to, but they really are important.
- Drink A LOT of water. Get and stay well hydrated. If you have, then it will help thin the congestion so that it will drain.
- REST! Sounds trite I know. In my own healing a few years ago, I would start to feel better and then as I would increase my activity I would notice a direct correlation to how I felt that night and through the next day. Fuel your body well and rest so that energy can be used by your immune system to work on riding your body of this infection!
- Use a Neti pot or a sinus nasal rinse. Use this as many times a day as you like, but try to do it at least three times a day. I’m not going to explain how to do it, but this video is fantastic if you’ve never used one. The rinse will help to dilute the congestion and make it more effectively expelled when you blow your nose.
- Breathe. This is an essential oil that includes laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemon, cardamom, and, ravintsara. This oil alone is fantastic for opening up airways and helping to suppress a cough. But with sinus infections, you can add it to the Neti pot and WOW! It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but it WILL open up those airways! The peppermint is quite spicey and tingles QUITE a lot, so I would dilute one drop in about 8 oz of saline water prior to putting it in the Neti pot. Please be careful with this. Less is more, especially the first time trying it.
- Warm compress/heating pad – I know this can sound kinda gross, but you will get the picture! Mucus is like cheese. When you heat cheese it melts, so if you heat mucus it too will melt. So… use a heating pad or a hot water bottle to the sinuses that are clogged or have a lot of pressure and it can help to listen it up. This is great to do before or after using the Neti pot. But, as a caution, the skin on your face and especially around your eyes is delicate. Hot water that your hands may tolerate, cannot be tolerated by your face. So please start with the temperature low and work up as needed.
- Stock – This FANTASTIC for helping to boost your immune system. Drink at least a mug a day, and if you heat it, breathe the steam. There are SO many benefits to drinking stock, but too much to go into here. I wrote a previous post on this, so you can read that if you would like more information on it.
- Steam shower/bath – This works similar to the hot stock or tea. Run a HOT shower and let the bathroom fill with steam. Sit and breath the steam and let it permeate your sinuses. If you take a hot bath then add a drop or two of breathe as well.
- Ibuprofen – As most are aware this is an anti-inflammatory as well as a pain reliever. If the pain is too much that the above does not relieve, then try 400mg. Not only will it help with pain, but it can also help to reduce some of the inflammation of the nasal passages and mucous membranes caused by the infection.
- Sudafed – Another common medication that most people know about. This is a decongestant and may also help. This alone will not be enough to get rid of the pressure and congestion, but it may help as a combination with the other therapies.
- Afrin – This is the one OTC medication that I will often try if the natural options aren’t working. It is a nasal spray decongestant and it helps reduce the swelling in the nasal passages to make it easier for the congestion to drain. I find it very helpful, especially before doing the neti pot.
I’m sure there are other suggestions and other medications to take, but these are the ones that I feel are the most effective. I prefer to take the natural route, use OTC medications if needed and then as a last resort get an antibiotic. If you have suggestions to add, please comment and share your experience!
Medical Disclaimer: This information is meant to inform and not diagnose or treat illness or disease. Before trying any of the ideas posted please research for yourself in order to make an educated decision. Also, consult your doctor if trying to treat medical conditions.