How can I stop sinus infections?


Section: vital advice

Breathe easy with these sinusitis solutions.

Sinusitis is inflammation in the sinuses, often stemming from upper respiratory infections. If your cold includes symptoms like pressure in the face and eyes, thick and foul-smelling drainage from the nose, and a lot of mucus production, see your doctor. You may need antibiotics.

To ease symptoms, take Sudafed or pain relievers like aspirin, Tylenol, or Motrin. Saltwater nasal sprays, such as Ocean, can also reduce the congestion that causes sinus pain. Since some people can benefit from steam, you might want to try a hot bath, a vaporizer, or a humidifier.

People with allergies are more prone to sinusitis, because they already have some level of inflammation in the nose. Keep your house as clean as possible. Common irritants like dust, pet dander, and mold in your drapes, carpets, and old furniture can trigger the inflammation associated with sinusitis.

— Marilene B. Wang, M.D., associate professor, division of head and neck surgery, University of California at Los Angeles

Allergens can lead to inflammation, often in the sinuses. To determine if you have any food sensitivities, eliminate certain foods from your diet for a few weeks and see if symptoms improve. Adults are most commonly sensitive to wheat and dairy.

If you do have congestion, flush your sinuses with a saltwater solution using a neti pot. Sinuses are a perfect breeding ground for infection, since they're warm and moist. The salt water irrigates them so that, instead of having the fluid pool, the passages open up and drain.

To reduce your sinusitis pain, you need to reduce congestion and inflammation. Try natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory vitamin C (1 or 2 grams daily), quercetin (500 mg, 3 times a day), or bromelain (500 mg, 3 times a day).

— Margot Longenecker, N.D., North Haven, Conn.-based spokeswoman for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

The classic essential oil for sinus problems is Eucalyptus radiata. To help decongest your sinuses, put a drop on your palm, rub your hands together, hold them over your mouth and nose, and take three deep breaths.

At the first sign of an infection, apply five drops of anti-infectious palmarosa oil all over your neck and chest, down your spine, and on the tops of your feet. Using the oil five times a day should prevent the infection from taking hold.

Inhaling oils added to a bowl of hot water is also good for treating sinusitis. Place two drops each of eucalyptus, thyme, and cedarwood onto the surface of a bowl, pour in a few cups of hot (but not boiling) water, cover your head with a towel, lean in, and breathe deeply with your eyes closed. Stay this way for as long as you can, but come up for air when necessary.

— Suzanne Catty, Toronto-based
aromatherapist and author of Hydrosols


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