Sinus infections, also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis is the inflammation of the sinus lining. It affects all age groups but is more common in adults and elderly. Sinusitis is a recurrent infection and pertains to many factors. When the condition turns chronic, the disease-causing bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics. Natural home remedies for sinus infection come into play for treating this recurring sinus infection.
Natural home remedies for sinus infection such as saline nasal sprays, essential oils, immune boosters have been scientifically proven to treat sinusitis. (1)
What is sinus?
Sinus is hollow spaces in our bones around the nasal passage. Our skull has four sinuses, and they are all interconnected.
Our cheekbones hold in the maxillary sinus, the centre of our forehead contains the frontal sinus. The space in between the eyes hold the ethmoid sinus, and the sphenoid sinus lies behind the bones of the nose.
This sinus help lightens the weight of your skull and improves the voices. The primary function of the sinus is to produce mucous to hydrate the nasal lining.
The mucus forms a protective layer protecting the nose from pollutants, dirt particles, dust, foreign objects and microorganisms.
How does the sinus infection happen?
Our sinuses are typically filled with air. When a person gets bacterial or viral infection related to flu, the virus or bacteria can spread to the sinuses lining.
Flu can also trigger sinusitis. If the cause of the flu is viral, then the disease will last up to a week and can recover on its own. Bacterial infection in sinusitis can last for over 10 days and usually require an antibiotic innervation to treat it.
Allergies like hay fever can also trigger sinusitis. Allergens can cause severe inflammation of the sinus lining. Sometimes the cilia lining the nasal cavity is unable to perform the normal function of moving the mucous in and out of the cavity, this can also lead to sinusitis.
Deviated septum is also a common problem that can cause a sinus infection. Nasal bone spur, cystic fibrosis, large adenoids can cause chronic sinusitis. People travelling on high altitudes or undertaking adventure sports like scuba diving can also develop sinusitis (2).
Sinusitis is a commonly observed in smokers. People who are immunocompromised, like those suffering from HIV infection, people undergoing chemotherapy have also shown incidences of a sinus infection.
Dental infection can also cause sinus lining inflammation. In case of communication of oral and antral space (maxillary sinus), the person will suffer from acute sinusitis till the fistula is operated. Conditions such as asthma, gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder also lead to sinusitis.
Symptoms of sinusitis
Sinus symptoms can vary in chronic and acute sinusitis, but many of the symptoms remain the same.
- Thick discharge from the nose.
- Nasal blockage and continuous post nasal dripping.
- Congestion and Cough are associated with sinusitis.
- A constant headache characteristic to sinusitis (3).
- The pressure around the forehead and nose is felt.
- Fatigue and Irritability due to fever.
- Bad breath issues in case of bacterial infection.
Fever is usually accompanied in cases of acute sinusitis whereas the chronic case of sinusitis has shown to be associated with allergies.
Nasal polyps are seen in people diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. People with allergies develop nasal polyps that can lead to chronic sinusitis. The nasal polyps on irritation with allergens can irritate the sinus lining triggering the symptoms.
How to identify sinusitis?
Sinusitis mimic the symptoms of common cold and flu. The only difference is it tends to last longer. Various tests are undertaken to identify the cause of the problem and reason behind it.
A health care provider will examine any signs of nasal polyps, transillumination test will be performed to see any signs of inflammation. Dental X-rays or an orthopantogram will be taken. This will help determine whether the cause of sinusitis is an oroantral fistula.
Nasal endoscopy and rhinoscopy are done to diagnose sinusitis. Sweat chloride test is done to diagnose cystic fibrosis which can be leading to sinus infection.
Consequently, allergy tests, ciliary function test, nasal cytology, nasal culture tests are done to determine the cause of sinusitis.
Imaging tests such as CT scan will help get a clear picture of the sinus. An MRI can also be performed to eliminate any signs of fungal infection or tumours.
Natural home remedies for sinus infection or sinusitis
Conventional sinus treatment involves decongestants, mucolytics, over the counter medicine for fever, antihistamines, etc.
Doctor avoids antibiotics during first few days if the type of infection is viral. However, if the sinus infection turns out to be bacterial, then doctors will prescribe antibiotics.
But there are no such restrictions on home remedies for sinus infection. You can right away start with these natural sinus treatment options as soon as you a sign of sinusitis.
1. Neti pot
Neti pot is one the most popular home remedies for sinus infection. It is a device which helps clean the maxillary sinus by the method of nasal irrigation. The use of Neti pot has been prevalent for a long time, and the therapeutic benefits of this method have been proven effective.(4).
Neti pot helps alleviate congestion and facial pain and pressure associated with sinus infection.The saline solution is passed through the neti pot inside our nose which helps increase the speed and improve the coordination of cilia. This helps in removing the allergens and irritants that could cause sinusitis.
2. Essential oil
Essential oils have been proven to be one of the best home remedies of sinus infection. It gives excellent symptomatic relief from sinusitis in conjunction with therapeutic benefits.
Peppermint oil has antiviral antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps in clearing sinus infections.
Lavender oil helps reduce the inflammation of sinus lining and helps relieve and soothe the sinus headaches and pressure over the sinuses.
Chamomile oil can be incorporated and consumed as a tea or can be massaged in and around the nose and over the sinuses. Tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils with multiple benefits. You can add tea tree into boiling water and inhale the steam. It will provide relief from congestion and clogged sinuses.
Sweet basil has analgesic, antispasmodic and antidepressant benefits. You can add it to a vaporiser or humidifier and inhale the steam. It will provide instant relief from a headache and pain.
Eucalyptus oil provides symptomatic relief from sinusitis. You can use eucalyptus with menthol oil, and it will prove to be an excellent sinus infection remedy. The best way to take it via steam inhalation.
Lemon essential oil has antimicrobial properties. You can inhale lemon oil through tented steam treatment. It will help in reducing the pressure and relieve any blockage.
Bromelain is a protein that helps fight the swelling associated with sinusitis(5). Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps reduce the swelling in nasal passages, clearing the airway and reducing the pressure.
Spices such as wasabi, mustard, horseradish, hot peppers have proven beneficial in clearing up the sinuses. You can add these spices to the bone broth which will also help improve the immunity.
Increasing the amount of fluid intake will help in thinning the mucus and ease its expulsion. You can consume fluids in the form of lemon water, basil water or herbal tea or ginger tea, which have added benefits to provide relief from sinusitis.
- Suggested read: How Much Water Should I Drink a Day?
Putting a warm cloth over the sinuses will help reduce the pressure. It will also help lessen the pain and tenderness over the sinuses.
Apple cider vinegar has an array of health benefits including a natural cure for sinus infection. It should be taken multiple times a day to gain relief from congestion and ease the sinus pressure. Apple cider vinegar has mucolytic properties.
Turmeric is a natural immunity booster. The curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric which has potent anti-inflammatory properties. This will help reduce the pressure and blockage associated with sinusitis.
9. Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract has natural antibiotic properties. It helps clear out the mucus from the sinus. The anti-microbial properties of this extract prevent the microbial growth in cases of chronic sinusitis.
10. Daily intake of vitamin C
We all know vitamin C as a natural immune booster. Not to mention, it helps our body to fight various infections. Vitamin C also has anti-oxidant properties and thus helps us from free radicals.
Nowadays, we all experience dust, air pollution, smoke, etc. All these are free radicals which are a significant contributor to the sinus infection. Daily Intake of food rich in vitamin C will keep you safe from free radicals.
Precautions and foods to avoid during the sinus infection
If you do see any improvement after 10-15 days, then consult a doctor. You never know if a simple looking sinus infection could turn into bronchitis.
People who are allergic to essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding ladies or someone who has some medical condition, are advised to consult with a doctor before taking any home remedies for sinus infection.
Final words on home remedies for sinus infection
The primary factor to consider in the treatment of sinusitis is identifying the causative agent. If sinusitis is caused due to allergens- eliminate the allergens. Viral sinusitis would require immune boosters, at the same time bacterial could require antibiotics in conjunction with immunity modulators.