Many of us suffer from sinus problems now and then. For some, sinusitis can be a common occurrence. Those who suffer from sinus issues will know how uncomfortable it can get, having to bear with symptoms such as sinus headache and blocked ears. In this article, we look at some causes and symptoms of sinus headache, and cover 10 home remedies that might provide sinus headache relief.
What causes sinus headache and pain
Sinus headaches can be extremely uncomfortable, and you may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. Sometimes, you might even feel your head throbbing. Other common symptoms include stuffy nose, fatigue and an achy feeling in your upper teeth.
So what causes sinus headaches?
Sinus headaches are a result of sinusitis, when your sinus passages become inflamed from allergies or infection. Those who suffer sinus headaches due to exposure to allergens are actually experiencing hay fever.
10 methods for sinus headache relief
There are many simple changes you can incorporate into your lifestyle to get relief from sinus headache. It can be as simple as drinking more water, or simply taking a hot shower!
1. Use a humidifier
Humidifiers can help you with your sinus headache by increasing the moisture in your room. Increasing humidity can also improve your breathing since it causes the mucus in your nose to thin out, helping to unblock nasal congestion.
When the air you breathe in is too dry, the mucus in your sinus becomes hard to flow, which results in congestion. With the help of a humidifier, mucus secretions are loosened, resulting in less congestion and sinus pain. Additionally, cooler air can help to decrease nasal inflammation, helping to ease your sinus headache.
Humidifiers are quite common nowadays and there’s a wide range to choose from in the market.
To increase the effectiveness of a humidifier, you can also pair it with essential oils. Peppermint oil, tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are some great options to consider. We’ll go deeper into the details of the benefits of essential oils later on in this article.
2. Take a hot shower
Did you know that having a hot shower can also alleviate your sinus headache?
Sinus headaches can be relieved when your mucus thins out, which eases the congestion in your sinus. As hot showers are more humid than cool showers, taking one helps to thin out your mucus.
Not only can hot steamy showers before bed help to loosen nasal secretions, they can also allow for better rest at night. In general, hot showers also help to reduce body aches and loosen up tensed muscles. They help you relax, which is great for your overall health and well-being.
To further ease sinus headaches and discomfort, you can sit in a steamy bathroom after your hot shower and breathe in the steam. This will not only help with nasal congestion, it also helps your body relax, further easing your discomfort.
If you happen to have a bath tub, you can also take a warm bath and add some drops of essential oils. Breathing in the steamy air will ease your sinus congestion.
3. Salt water irrigation
Salt water irrigation, or a sinus flush, is used to help ease sinus discomfort. This is a simple home remedy that you can use to ease sinus symptoms.
It’s pretty easy to make your own nasal flush. All you need are premixed saline packets that can be bought over the counter, and a neti pot
Here are some simple steps you can take to clear your sinus passages through salt water irrigation:
- Stand at the sink and lower your head over the sink
- With your neti pot, pour the saline solution slowly into your upper nostril
- Drain out the solution through your other nostril
- Repeat on the opposite side
When clearing your sinus with saline solution, make sure you drain out the water from the other nostril and not let the water go down the back of your throat. You will also need to breathe through your mouth throughout this process. After you’re done with clearing your nose, gently blow your nose to get rid of any excess mucus.
There are some important things to note when you’re clearing your nose with saline water. Ensure that the water you use is warm and isn’t too hot or too cold. If your saline solution appears dirty or cloudy, discard it instead of using it.
Also, note that salt water irrigation should only be performed on adults, and not on young children or infants who may not know how to breathe through their mouth.
4. Use a saline nasal spray
Saline nasal sprays work very much like the salt irrigation method we’ve just looked at, and you can easily buy them at a pharmacist or health and wellness stores.
One big advantage nasal sprays have over the salt irrigation method is that a nasal spray is more compact and easy to carry around — as they come simply as a squirt or pump bottle. Additionally, you won’t need to go through the hassle of mixing your own saline solution. These nasal sprays also tend to also have a longer shelf life than saline solutions.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to use a saline nasal spray:
- Put yourself in an upright position
- Gently blow your nose to clear mucus
- Close one of your nostrils and place the spray bottle under the nostril to which you are applying to
- Make sure you aim away from the septum (the middle of your nose) so as not to damage it
- Inhale slightly through the nostril while you gently squeeze the spray applicator
One downside to saline nasal sprays is that they can be costly in the long run if you use them on a regular basis.
Furthermore, while saline nasal sprays can help ease symptoms, they do not address the root cause of your sinus issues. So if you’re experiencing sinus problems because of allergies, you should look into removing or avoiding any allergens you’re exposed to.
5. Apply a warm compress
Applying a warm towel over your forehead and nose can help to reduce swelling and inflammation in your sinus passages. It’s also a simple home remedy that you can use before you go to bed.
Heat from the warm towel helps to open up your nasal passages to reduce swelling and hence open up your nasal passageway. This will also help to loosen mucus secretion and aid in mucus flow.
Here are some simple steps on how you can apply a warm compress to provide sinus headache relief:
- Fill up a bowl with water that’s warmer than body temperature. Ensure that it’s not scalding
- Soak the towel in the water and wring out excess water
- Fold the towel into a square and apply it over your forehead and nose
- Hold the towel in position and place it in contact with your skin for up to 20 minutes each time
Alternatively, you can make a warm compress through the following method:
- Soak two towels in water and squeeze out excess water
- Put one towel in a ziplock bag and leave the bag open
- Microwave the bag for 2 minutes
- Remove the bag from the microwave and seal it. Be careful as the bag will be hot to touch
- Wrap the other towel around the bag.
- Apply the heating pad to your forehead for about 20 minutes
6. Spicy food
Spicy foods can be an effective way to open up your nasal passages. Some spices that help with nasal headaches include ginger, raw garlic and onions, chilies and spicy mustard.
Incorporating these spices in your food is pretty easy in Singapore, since Indian and Malay food tend to have lots of such spices in them. If you prefer home cooked meals, you can search for recipes online that make use of these spices. You can also make a conscious decision to shop for these ingredients when you’re doing grocery shopping.
Acupressure is a type of traditional Chinese medical treatment where pressure is applied to specific parts of your body to ease symptoms of pain and illness.
Although there’s no scientific explanation as to how these treatments work, acupressure has been known to help ease colds, flus and sinus problems. It can be done at home or if you prefer, by a professional practitioner.
Here’s how you can perform acupressure for yourself at home:
- Link your fingers with both hands together and form the shape of a cup
- Use the linked hands to cradle the back of your neck
- Find the dips of either side of your spine and place your thumbs there
- Massage the area slowly, do not put too much pressure
- Relax, breathe slowly and deeply
- Do this for 4 to 5 seconds each time
Massaging your cheeks and the bridge of your nose can also relieve your sinus pain as it helps ease tension and pressure in the area. However, remember to not use too much force as you may end up hurting yourself. Your touch should be firm yet gentle.
Additionally, you’ll want to massage only specific points that help with your sinus headache. Don’t apply pressure on areas that you are unsure of.
8. Essential oils
Essential oils are known to have many benefits for overall health. In fact, they are popular treatments for cold, allergies, sinus infections and flu.
Different essential oils help to remedy different health problems. If you are suffering from sinus, you should get essential oils that help to open the airways and ease congestion.
Here are a few essential oils that not only smell great, but can also provide sinus headache relief:
Peppermint oil contains menthol, which helps to open airways and clear out your mucus. Studies have shown that peppermint oil can also fight bacteria, which is one of the triggers of sinus congestion. Testing on animals has also shown that peppermint oil helps to reduce inflammation.
If you happen to have a bath tub, you can put a few drops of peppermint oil in it during your bath. Alternatively, you can put a few drops of it in a bowl of warm water. Breathing in the steam can help with stuffiness and help other sinusitis symptoms to subside.
Additionally, it could be helpful to get nasal decongestant products that contain peppermint.
Eucalyptus oil contains a compound called cineole that’s said to help with sinus and headaches. In a small-scale study in 2009, it was found that cineole can ease many sinusitis symptoms such as headaches, nasal congestion and runny nose.
Today, you can find eucalyptus oil in many over the counter products such as decongestants and chest rubs. Using these products can help ease your discomfort from nasal congestion and stuffiness.
Eucalyptus oil can be used the same way you would use peppermint oil. Put a few drops into your bath or a warm bowl of water and breathe in the steam for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use it with a diffuser in your room.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is known for fighting bacteria and viruses, and can be quite effective in combating sinus discomfort.
In 2015, a scientific review noted that a compound called alpha-sabine in tea tree oil has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects. If you’re suffering from sinus problems due to a bacterial infection, tea tree oil might be an essential oil you could try.
Just like eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil, you can use tea tree oil with a diffuser. Tea tree oil helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. As such, breathing in air that’s infused with it will help to relieve symptoms of congestion such as a runny nose or sinus headache.
9. Keep your body hydrated
Staying hydrated is beneficial for your general health and helps to flush out toxins from your body.
Drinking plenty of fluids also helps to thin nasal secretions, hence making your sinus passages less congested. When you are dehydrated, your sinus passages tend to dry out, leading to increased pressure, discomfort and pain.
If you feel bloated from drinking lots of water, or don’t enjoy drinking water in general, there are other types of fluids you can take to help you stay hydrated.
Drinking more soup during meal times, having tea or sucking on ice cubes can also help you stay hydrated. Additionally, increasing your intake on water-based vegetables and fruits will help to increase fluid intake in your diet.
Just as there are things that help hydrate, there are also some that do the opposite. For example, caffeine and alcohol dehydrate your body and should be avoided.
Fried and oily foods are also not the best options if you have sinus, and you should stay away from unhealthy food in general as they could worsen your condition.
It’s important to be mindful of what you eat and drink to speed up your recovery from sinus. Healthy lifestyle habits like drinking more water and eating healthy, even while you’re well, will also go a long way towards benefiting your overall health.
10. Elevate your head
Do you ever feel like your sinus is worse in the morning compared to the rest of the day?
One reason is that when you’re sleeping, you’re lying flat, which can increase mucus buildup and increase sinus pressure. When there’s too much mucus built up, your sleep also becomes disrupted.
To prevent these problems, you can consider using more than one pillow to prop your head up such that you’re not just lying flat. You don’t need to make lots of adjustments to your sleeping position — ensuring that your head is kept above the heart level should be sufficient.
By keeping your head positioned a little higher, you can prevent sinus buildup, easing symptoms of mucus congestion. While this might feel slightly uncomfortable at first, it might help you have a more restful night.
Those of us who have experienced sinus headaches know how uncomfortable it can be, and how it can affect daily productivity and rest at night. The good news is that you can get sinus headache relief through the many easy home remedies we’ve looked at.
Making adjustments to the way you sleep, installing a humidifier in your room and changing your diet are some simple ways to help ease your sinus headache. So remember to try them the next time you find yourself with a stuffy head!
With that said, it might be best to see a medical professional if your sinusitis or sinus headaches persist or become extremely uncomfortable.