Stuffy noses are the worst! You can't breathe properly, your nose runs all day long, you have to clear out snot a few dozen times a day, and it's impossible to focus through that pounding ache in your head. All you want to do is lay down and rest, but you can't sleep thanks to the eternal snot production.
Sound familiar? Sinus infections are incredibly common, especially for those with allergies and reduced immune systems. They can be difficult to get rid of, and can stop you from being able to work, play, train, and focus on your daily tasks. It's definitely in your best interest to deal with them AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
We've done the research and found a few amazingly simple home remedies for sinus infections, remedies that will help to deal with the underlying cause of the infection, soothe your symptoms, and clear up the problems. But before we get into the remedies, let's take a look at what's going on…
Causes of Sinus Infections
Let's take a look at the nasty little buggers responsible for your sinus infection!
There are two primary causes of sinus infections:
- 1. Viral infection -- If a virus infects your upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, etc.), it may damage the cells of your sinus lining. Your body responds to this damage by swelling up (inflammation), and the lining grows thicker. This leads to a blockage of the nasal passage, disrupting the process of eliminating the bacteria that accumulates in your sinus. As a result, the bacteria builds up, invading the sinus lining and compounding the problem.
- 2. Allergens and pollutants -- Allergens (pollen, dust, etc.) and pollutants (chemicals in the air) may irritate and damage the sinus lining, leading to the same inflammation caused by viral infection. The inflammation obstructs the sinuses, making it impossible for your nose to get rid of bacteria. As a result, the bacteria builds up and attacks the lining of your sinuses, leading to an infection.
In very few cases (specifically among people with AIDS, diabetes, leukemia, and any other disease that weakens your immune system), fungi may infect your sinuses. This is another less common type of sinus infection, but one no less serious than a viral or bacterial infection.
Symptoms of Sinus Infections
Not sure you've got a sinus infection? How can you tell a sinus infection apart from your basic cold-based runny nose? Well, for the most part, you can't, as the symptoms are pretty much the same:
- Nasal congestion (stuffed up nasal passages)
- Nasal discharge (snot)
- Post-nasal drip (mucus dripping down your throat behind your nose)
- Pain or pressure on one side/both sides of your face
- Worsening pain and pressure when you a cough
However, there are a few other symptoms not common with a milder infection:
- Pain across your cheekbone, around your upper teeth, or under/around your eye
- Sore throat
- A headache behind your eyes or at your temples
- Fever (your body trying to fight off the infection)
If the sinus infection becomes chronic, you may find yourself dealing with:
- Pain that worsens when wearing glasses
- Pain that worsens in the late morning
- Chronic bad breath
- A chronic sore throat
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Chronic toothache
- Facial discomfort throughout the day
- Coughing at night
All of these things are signs it's not just a runny nose, but you've got a full-on sinus infection on your hands!
Does Your Sinus Infection Need Medical Attention?
This is always a question you want to ask yourself before turning to any home remedies. Infections can get worse if they are left untreated, like the bacteria, viruses, and fungi may burrow deeper into your skin, worsen the irritation and damage, and become harder to get rid of. So how can you know when it's time to put down the remedies and call a doctor?
If you've got a runny nose, a minor headache, and the other basic symptoms of a sinus infection, it's a good idea to try the at-home remedies. They may be able to deal with the infection before it truly settles in, and you won't have to worry about medication side effects.
However, if the sinus infection worsens, it may be time to get yourself to the doctor and seek professional help. You can tell it's worsening if:
- You experience pressure or pain in your upper face
- The nasal discharge and congestion are increasing
- You have had a fever for more than a day
- You have bad breath, completely unrelated to dental problems
The truth is that sinus infections can be VERY serious if they aren't dealt with. The bacteria or virus is infecting skin very close to your brain, and the last thing you want is to spread the pathogens there! You also risk a spread of the infection, leading to ear infections, throat infections, and even lung infections.
The good news is that most sinus infections are fairly easy to get rid of. You may have to resort to the medicated option, but you can start out by trying the awesome home remedies for a sinus infection listed below…
Home Remedies for a Sinus Infection
Check out these simple, highly effective home remedies to help you get rid of the bacteria or virus that is causing your infection:
Remedy #1: Apple Cider Vinegar -- Apple cider vinegar is a potent antiseptic, one that can kill off most of the germs and pathogens that cause infections. It's more than capable of dealing with the bacterial build-up and infection in your sinus.
The best thing about apple cider vinegar is that it can help to restore beneficial bacteria to your body. The vinegar contains pectin, which is needed to break down food and improves your digestive function. A healthy digestive tract is vital for a healthy immune system, so adding more apple cider vinegar to your life is a great way to restore your body to optimum health.
How can you use apple cider vinegar to treat your sinus infection?
- 1. Drink it -- As mentioned above, Apple cider vinegar works like probiotics. The pectin in the vinegar helps your intestines to break down your food more effectively, leading to better digestive function and flourishing gut bacteria. The healthier your gut bacteria, the more active your immune system. A teaspoon or two of vinegar in your water can do wonders to improve your immune health!
- 2. Pour it into your nose -- This may sound odd, but it's the best way to apply a natural antibacterial and antiviral agent directly to the infected area. Buy raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, mix a couple of teaspoons into 6 ounces of warm water, and use an eyedropper or Neti pot to pour it directly into your nose. The stinging is a sign the vinegar is working and killing off the bacteria and viruses.
You can buy apple cider vinegar just about anywhere, and it does an amazing job at dealing with a sinus infection!
Remedy #2: Salt water -- Salt water, also known as saline, is a natural antiseptic that can help to clean out your stuffed, infected nasal passages. The salt can not only flush out your nose, but it can thin the mucus and deal with obstructions in your nasal passages. As a bonus, it can also eliminate a lot of the allergens and pollutants you inhale on a daily basis.
To clean your nose, you can use a saline nasal spray or go with the old-fashioned Neti pot. A saline spray will inject the salt water directly up your nasal passages, doing the job more efficiently.
However, the Neti pot is often the more thorough option. You can warm up 6 ounces of water, add a couple of teaspoons of salt, and use the Neti pot to run water through your nostrils. It's an odd activity, one that will take a bit of getting used to.
Salt water can help to keep the sinuses moist (dryness makes the nasal lining more susceptible to infection) and can deal with most allergies and colds. You'll find that a simple saline solution is a wonderful remedy to deal with your sinus infection!
Remedy #3: Heat and Steam -- If your sinuses are infected, there's going to be A LOT of congestion and obstruction in the passages. This is likely caused by the inflammation, as well as the overproduction of mucus (necessary to trap bacteria and prevent the infection from worsening).
Sadly, the more infected your nasal passages, the thicker your mucus becomes. You may blow your nose hundreds of times a day, but it won't get rid of the mucus blockage. You struggle to breathe as a result.
Nothing a bit of steam won't fix!
Steam can help to thin out the mucus, and it will moisten your sinuses. If you've got obstructed nasal passages, there are a couple of good options for treatment:
- 1. Take a hot shower or bath -- The steam from the shower or bath will loosen up the mucus, along with any debris trapped inside your nose. Don't worry if the steam makes your nose run--it's your body's way of getting rid of the excess mucus so it can heal the infected area.
- 2. Steam your head -- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and drape a towel or cloth over the pot. Stick your head inside that cloth, and breathe in the steam for 10 to 15 minutes. To make the remedy even more effective, add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to the water. The compounds in the oil will help to deal with the infection and relax your sinuses.
Steam works wonders when you've got a stuffed-up nose!
Remedy #4: Tiger Balm -- If you've never tried Tiger Balm, you've never experienced true relief from nasal congestion!
Tiger Balm is the brand name of a Singaporean heat rub, one much more potent than Vicks Vapo-Rub. It's made with natural antiseptic ingredients, such as:
- Peppermint oil (menthol)
- Clove bud oil (eugenol)
- Cajuput oil (similar to tea tree oil)
- Cayenne pepper (capsaicin)
The combination of these amazing compounds will help to loosen up your mucus and make it much easier to breathe!
It's as easy as placing a small amount of the balm beneath your nose or (if you're using the "cool" white version) even inside your nostrils. The minty burning sensation of the potent cream will be so much better than the sinus infection, and it will help to clear out the stuffed up mucus in no time!
Remedy #5: Ginger -- Ginger is an amazing root, one with all sorts of anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. If you want a highly effective, cost-efficient remedy, look no further than ginger root.
There are many ways you can use it:
- 1. Grate it and eat it raw. The zingerone and gingerols will help to deal with the infection!
- 2. Make yourself a decoction of ginger. The longer you boil it down, the most potent the remedy.
- 3. Steam your head over a pot of ginger tea. The potent compounds in the ginger will double the effectiveness of the steam.
Ginger tea is more than just a great sinus infection remedy--it can also help to soothe your sore throat, open up the nasal passages, and increase blood flow to the area. It will do wonders to deal with the pounding ache in your head, making it easier to breathe and work despite your sinus infection.