Sinus infections are drippy and painful — an all-around headache, quite literally. When symptoms arise, patients often rush to the doctor for a prescription, usually an antibiotic, to put an end to the suffering.
But it turns out you’d do just as well to take a sugar pill and treat yourself with standard drugstore remedies. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis, the antibiotics typically prescribed by doctors work no better than placebo for reducing symptoms of infection.
“Patients don’t get better faster or have fewer symptoms when they get antibiotics,” Jay F. Piccirillo, professor of otolaryngology and the study’s senior author, said in a statement. “Our results show that antibiotics aren’t necessary for a basic sinus infection — most people get better on their own.”
What’s a person to do about the sinus congestion and unbearable pain and pressure? Keep reading for natural ways to get sinus infection relief.
- Get steamy: The heat and steam from a hot shower does wonders for congestion and sinus pressure. Close the bathroom door and run the shower on superhot for a few minutes, staying in the bathroom to breathe in the steam. Lower the temp and hop in, allowing the hot water to gently massage your sensitive sinuses. If you don’t want to get in the shower, you can also place a towel over your head, and lean over a pot of superhot water, breathing in the vapor.
- Try a Neti pot: To loosen up mucus and help it make its way out of your sinuses, give a Neti pot a try. Follow the instructions, adding noniodized salt and warm sterile (not tap) water to the pot. Mix it well, place the spout in one nostril, lean over the sink, and gently flush out allergens and mucus. If you’re really clogged, try using it after a hot shower. If this freaks you out, use an over-the-counter nasal saline spray instead.
- Hot compress: If the pressure is getting to you, run a washcloth under hot water, lie down and place the folded hot compress over your eyes. Gently press along your sinuses, massaging the sensitive areas to loosen up mucus.
- Sleep with a humidifier: If your symptoms are worse at night, keep your head slightly propped up with some pillows and sleep with a cool mist humidifier on your night stand. A night of breathing in moist air can greatly improve symptoms in the morning.
- Drink up: Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help loosen thick mucus, so you’re able to blow your nose effectively. We recommend this ginger tea for working through symptoms related to colds.
- Get sweaty: If you’re feeling up for it, do a high-intensity cardio workout that gets you hot and sweaty, preferably on your own so you don’t risk getting others sick. This is a great way to get congestion relief.
- Reduce triggers: If you suffer from chronic sinus infections, it may be allergy-related, and worth a trip to an allergist. After dealing with a six-month-long sinus infection, I realized I had developed an allergy to my cats.
- Get Chiropractic Adjustments: Chiropractic adjustments to the neck and upper back not only boost your immune system, they can also help open up the sinuses and allow them to drain.