3 Ways to Reduce Sinus Inflammation
Anyone with allergies knows how bad it can get. Springtime can trigger a concert of sneezing, nose blowing and congestion that lasts until summer or beyond.
One of the most common characteristics of allergies is sinus inflammation and blockage, which can be downright painful and debilitating. The sinuses can also become inflamed due to bacterial or viral infection, but the most common cause among people who have experienced it is likely allergic in nature.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can reduce sinus inflammation right from the comfort of your home. Let’s go over 3 of the most popular at-home treatments:
Treatment #1: Nasal Irrigation
Flushing your nose with a neti pot is a process called nasal irrigation, or nasal lavage. Despite how painful it may seem, nasal irrigation is a safe, well-tolerated method to reduce sinus inflammation. A saline solution, typically 0.9% non-iodized sodium chloride and purified or filtered water, is often used to flush out mucus from congested sinuses and to keep the mucous membranes moist.
Evidence suggests that nasal irrigation provides relief to people suffering from hay-fever and the common cold. It could also be an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis. If you are a longtime sufferer from sinus infections, you may want to read “Why Do I Keep Getting Sinus Infections?”
Treatment #2: Nasal Spray
There are several types of nasal sprays available. Each addresses the sinus inflammation in a different way.
A decongestant nasal spray helps open up nasal passages by reducing blood flow in the lining of the nose. This shrinks the size of the blood vessels, which in turn causes inflamed tissue to shrink and helps sinuses open up again. Oxymetazoline is the active ingredient in many decongestant sprays including “Afrin’. These should not be used for more than 3 days in a row or they will cause the congestion to worsen.
A saline spray that uses the 0.9% non-iodized sodium chloride and distilled water described earlier can be bought over the counter or made at home. You can carry a small bottle with you and spray it into your nose as needed.
Steroidal sprays are designed to treat inflammation and congestion. The dose is very small and over time have not been shown to have systemic side-effects. There are many types of steroidal sprays that are over-the-counter now. They take longer than decongestant spray and may take weeks to show noticeable improvement.
These are prescription sprays that can prevent the symptoms of allergies like itching, sneezing and a runny nose. They block cells from “seeing” the substances that cause allergic reactions. They are like taking benedryl or Zyrtec except just for your nose. Azelastine is an example of an antihistamine spray. Most patients say that they taste terrible. They also don’t work on bacterial sinus infections or the common cold.
Cromolyn Spray (Nasalcrom)
This is a prescription spray that can also prevent the symptoms of allergies like itching, sneezing and a runny nose. They act on certain body cells, mast cells, and prevent them from releasing the substances that cause the allergic reaction.
Treatment #3: Vapor Inhalation
If you don’t like the idea of sticking something in your nostrils, or if you find the pressure of nasal sprays and irrigation too painful, vapor may be your best-bet treatment option.
Steam vapor alone can be soothing for an inflamed nose. Vicks VapoRub can be added to the steam and is the most famous example of this type of treatment. This involves the inhalation of anti-inflammatory vapors for the purpose of opening up the sinuses.
The active ingredient in Vicks VapoRub is menthol, an organic derivative of common mints, including peppermint. You could easily buy some peppermint oil. stir it into hot water, and inhale the steam for a similar effect. Other popular kitchen ingredients you could add to your vapor treatment regimen include:
- raw onion
- eucalyptus oil
If all else fails, you should consult your doctor about the best prescription medication for your condition. If you have any questions or concern about your breathing and sinus health contact the office of Dr. Garrett Bennett, New York City Sinus and Nasal Surgeon.