Struggling to get through your day thanks to irritating sinus blocks? Sinusitis is an inflammation of the air cavities around the nose, eyes, and cheeks caused by an infection (mostly viral and, in some rare cases, bacterial). The inflammation prevents the mucus from draining, resulting in sinus blocks that can cause you a great deal of irritation.1
Sinusitis can be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis lasts for about 8 weeks and then subsides, while chronic sinusitis can go beyond 8 weeks. Chronic sinusitis is more common among people who have various allergies. The symptoms of acute and chronic sinusitis are no different and include
- nasal congestion
- nasal drip (mucus)
- facial pain
- sore throat
- ear pain
Dealing With Blocked Sinuses
Mainstream medicine offers various options to unblock sinuses and get relief. Most of these can be safely done at home.
- First, try and stay bug-free by washing your hands regularly. This will prevent secondary infections from aggravating your condition.
- Keep yourself well hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other fluids especially if you have a cold. Staying hydrated leads to the free flow of mucus and can help unblock your nasal passages.
- Inhale steam at least 3–4 times a day. You could add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to better clear your passages. Heat the water well and add. Bend over the pan of water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale deeply.
- Use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray at least 3–4 times a day. Salt in the saline spray is a great antiseptic with healing properties and can help clear the block. Tilt your head backward and direct the spray nozzle into your nostril and spray. Repeat with the next nostril.
- Make hot compresses with thick hand towels. Dip these towels in hot water and use them on your face. Alternatively, you can try a hot water bottle.
- If you find the sinus block worsening when you lie down, try elevating your head with a couple of pillows.
- You can use nasal decongestant drops bought at a drug store. However, make sure you do not use it for too long. Generally, a week is recommended and if the block doesn’t go away your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or corticosteroid sprays. This is usually the last line of treatment. If your doctor feels the blocked sinuses are a result of an allergy, you may be prescribed antihistamine medication.3
Beating The Block: The Ayurvedic Route
In the Indian traditional system of medicine Ayurveda, blocked sinuses occur as a result of excess kapha (mucus) in the body.4 You can get rid of this through a detoxification process which could include:
- medicines like nasyam, which is nothing but medicated powders aimed at clearing out the nostrils.5 This is also useful in treating migraine.
- medicated oils available over the counter at Ayurvedic drug stores. Heat lightly and gently massage on the head. This will clear the nasal passages.6
Do remember to consult an Ayurvedic physician or an Ayurvedic pharmacist before buying and using either nasyam or other medicated oils.
In most cases, irritating blocked sinuses clear up over time (could take anywhere between 2–4 months) with a combination of simple home remedies. However, you must consult a doctor if your blocked sinuses are also accompanied by fever, cough that refuses to clear up, and intense headaches.
|↑1||Sinusitis, University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑2||Slavin, Raymond G., Sheldon L. Spector, I. Leonard Bernstein, Sinusitis Update Workgroup, Michael A. Kaliner, David W. Kennedy, Frank S. Virant et al. “The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: a practice parameter update.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 116, no. 6 (2005): S13-S47.|
|↑3||7 tips for keeping your sinuses clear from the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑4, ↑5||Dash, B. & Kashyap, L. Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases in Ayurveda, Volume 5. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. 1991.|
|↑6||An epidemic of sinus disorders: Natural treatment with Ayurvedic methods, Institute for Traditional Medicine.|