Blocked nose, heaviness in the head, thick discharges, dull facial pain in upper jaws or teeth or nose region, leading to a headache, cough, fever, and congestion. The symptoms of sinus, definitely, read like the handbook of discomfort!

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis, or sinus, is the cavity in your tissues, generally referring to those connected to the nasal region. They produce mucus that sometimes drains into the nose. This causes inflammation, nose blocks, pain, and discomfort. The condition is called sinusitis and may be acute or chronic.

Have you been prescribed antibiotics, nasal sprays and pain medication for your sinus headaches? If you have used these, you will know that while they help in the short run, in the long run, repeated usage can worsen your symptoms. That is why you may want to try some home remedies for overcoming your sinus issues.

Causes of sinusitis

  • Viral infection
  • Allergens in the environment – dust, pollution, cold and dry weather
  • Exposure to pets
  • Irregular food, and sleep rituals

Home remedies for sinus problems

1. Beat the heat and dryness

If you live in a dry place, the lack of moistness in the air is likely to make it difficult for you to breathe. For those with sinus, it is a nightmare. While sinusitis, usually, occurs in winter, excessively hot weather can dry the surrounding and irritate the nostrils. A humidifier releases water vapor into the air, moistening your surrounding areas. This can help thin your mucus and hence, make it easier for you to breathe. Both the pores on your skin, and your nostrils will feel the difference, as blockages in the airways are removed.

However, it would be best to ensure that you maintain the level of humidity at about 30-50 percent. Very high levels of humidity can lead to the condensation of walls and floors. This is the perfect condition for bacteria and molds to breed, which can, again, cause respiratory problems.

2. Full steam ahead

Steam inhalation is one of the most common sinus treatments at home. It can, greatly, relieve your blocked nose. You may add a piece of camphor or clove, basil (tulsi) leaf or a drop of eucalyptus oil to the water and inhale the fumes. You can use a vaporizer or a hot bowl and towel over your head as you inhale the hot air. Steam showers can also provide temporary relief.

The additives to the hot water, such as eucalyptus oil, act as decongestants. Take care that you do not burn your face. It would be a good idea to turn your vaporizer off every five minutes for safety purposes.

Blow your nose every once in a while to clear your airways of mucus.

3. Blow hot, blow cold

Applying warm packs is a good home remedy for sinus-related headaches. Dip a cloth in hot water and place it around the eye. Again, take care not to burn yourself. You may also follow it up with a cloth dipped in cold water to help relieve the throbbing and pressure on your head.

4. The milk + turmeric concoction

A pinch of turmeric in milk is a traditional herbal medicine used as sinus treatment in several Indian homes. Turmeric is a spice with a chemical compound called curcumin in it. This has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It helps reduce the swelling in the nasal cavity, relieving your cough and cold. It also reduces sinus pressure and helps to de-congest. Milk is an effective medium that helps facilitate the spreading of curcumin through the tissues and fats in the body.

5. Fluids – your magic potion

a. Water is a simple wonder fluid that dehydrates your insides (body system) and outsides (skin). Drink lots of filtered and boiled and cooled water. This will loosen the mucus helping you flush it out of your system more easily.

b. Also, keep hydrating and warming yourself with other fluids such as tea. Mint clove tea is a good option. You may also like to add dry ginger, black pepper, basil (tulsi) or jaggery to your tea. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, and basil has anti-bacterial properties and can help eject the phlegm from your throat.

c. The age-old recipe of ginger-lemon juice can help clear nose-blocks and headaches. Take a large piece of ginger (the size of half a lemon) and crush it. Grind it finely with 2 spoons of coriander powder and 1 spoon of cumin powder. You may add a little water to this while grinding. Add 2 glasses of water to this and boil for 2-3 minutes. Add a spoon of candy sugar to it. Filter the mix and, then, after it cools a bit, squeeze a lemon in it and drink.

6. Deep sleep doesn’t come cheap

We all know how difficult it is to get a good night’s sleep when your nose is blocked. When the things we take for granted in life (breathing) trouble us, a good night’s rest can evade us. Ironically, this can exacerbate the sinus problem. The cause becomes the effect! Try to sleep in a warm, dark and humidified room with your head slightly elevated to help you breathe more comfortably.

7. Establish an easier breathing rhythm with nasyam

Nasyam is an Ayurvedic therapy where drops of oil are instilled in the nostrils. This process promotes blood circulation to the head that helps prevent disorders like sinusitis. It also removes toxins from the body and stimulates the mucus membranes. This helps prevent symptoms of sinus like swellings and infections.

Sinus remedies: dos & don’ts

  • Eat warm and light food. Drink plenty of warm fluids to help flush out mucus from your system.
  • Keep away from milk products. Milk has been known to increase mucus levels in some people.
  • Avoid sweets and fried food.
  • Eating a proper diet on a daily basis can reduce your symptoms.
  • Sinus is, normally, caused by virus and so, it would be best to avoid antibiotics as much as possible.

Yoga and pranayama as sinus remedies

Yoga and pranayama can help clear your nasal passage and can be effective for asthma and sinus treatments at home. For instance, the Kapalbhati Pranayama helps clear the respiratory passage. Bhastrika and Nadi Shodhan pranayama help in clearing congestion. Yoga poses like Hastapadasana and Setu Bandhasana can also help combat nasal issues.

While it is true that no one cure for sinus works for everyone all the time, you can mix it up and try your luck. It is still better than medication which can leave you feeling drowsy, dull and lackluster. You know what they say about the common cold – it takes seven days without medication and a week with!

If after all these home remedies for sinus, your headache or other symptoms persist, consult an Ayurvedic doctor for a customized therapeutic solution.

(This article was written with inputs from Dr. Sharika Menon, Ayurvaidya, Art of Living.)