Natural Remedies for Sinus Congestion
Anyone who suffers from sinus congestion knows that it can be miserable. Whether you suffer from seasonal allergies like hayfever or from the stuffiness that accompanies the common cold, the symptoms can be similar but also vary from person-to-person.
There are different theories about the function of the sinuses. Since the sinuses are empty pockets within the head, they allow the head to weigh less than if it were solid bone. Some people think that the sinuses help to humidify the air that we breathe in and others think that they help to amplify our voices. At any rate, they fulfill more than one purpose.
When the sinuses are in good working order, they go unnoticed. However, when all is not right with these cavities, it can be quite debilitating.
There are tiny holes that lead from the sinuses into the nose, allowing them to drain. When someone has an allergic reaction or has a cold, these holes can become blocked. Once blocked, the sinuses become the perfect environment for bacteria, viruses, or fungi to multiply.
When the sinuses are irritated, the symptoms can range from runny nose, sneezing, coughing, watering eyes, sore throat, fever, headaches, pain behind the eyes, cheeks, or forehead, and even aching teeth. Once the symptoms start, they can last for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months in severe cases.
The treatments for the sinuses range from over-the-counter medicines like sudephedrine, cough syrups, benadryl, mucinex, and claritin. Of course, there are prescription level medicines as well. Some of the prescriptions are just stronger versions of the over-the-counter medicines and others are antibiotics that help to kill off any infection that may have set in.
Some of the best medicines are those that you may have in your kitchen already or that you can find in your nearest store. I'm going to share my go-to remedies that help me to prevent sinus infections, allergies, and colds in the first place.
I suffered from seasonal allergies from about 3rd grade on. I got usually 3 or 4 sinus infections a year, whether they started from allergies or from a cold or virus. These sinus infections always ended in a trip to the doctor with antibiotics being the end-result.
Since I started using these natural remedies, I've not had to go to the doctor for antibiotics for sinus infections in at least two years. I hate to use antibiotics or any medicine if it's not necessary and I'm so glad that I've found natural remedies that work and am constantly telling others about these remedies.
The best way to deal with the sinuses is to prevent problems before they really get going. Every day when I get up, I have a regimen that I do that helps to keep me healthy. I squeeze at least half of a lemon, if not a whole lemon, into a glass of warm/hot water. I sweeten it slightly with stevia to take the edge off.
The lemon is helpful for many reasons. Lemons have a natural dosage of Vitamin C in them, which most people acknowledge to be a great way to boost the immune system and help to fight off sickness. This fresh lemon juice also takes the edge off of a sore throat, which usually accompanies any sinus problems. Besides these reasons, the lemon also detoxes the liver.
I never cared for lemonade and was never one to want lemon in my water or tea. It took some getting used to, but now I have to have my lemon juice in the mornings.
It used to be that I took allergy medicine around the clock during the spring and fall. Even on medicine, I still would get a sinus infection at least once per season. A couple years ago, my grandmother sent me one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. She sent me a Sinus Rinse, which is exactly what it sounds like and is by the same makers of the Neti Pot.
For years, I used a saline spray, which helped somewhat. After getting the Sinus Rinse and finally getting over my initial fear, I came to love this little squirt bottle. When my allergies start to bother me and I get that persistent sinus headache that just won't go away, I do a rinse, and my headache is immediately better. Instantly, the pain of the headache is reduced by 85-90%. After about 10-20 minutes, the headache is completely gone. I've not had this type of relief from any medicine that I've ever tried.
I like the Sinus Rinse over the Netti Pot because it is smaller and is more friendly for traveling. In fact, I don't go on any trip without it. It is also very easy to wash and use.
When using one of these devices, you want to make sure and use distilled water- not tap or even filtered water. You do not want to introduce anything into your sinuses that could create a problem for you. You also want the water to be warm. If it's not warm, it will burn and irritate your sinuses. Of course, you need to add the salt solution that is provided in the rinse as well.
While doing the rinse, you can breathe through your mouth normally. As you flush out your sinuses, you will most likely see some mucus (whether it is clear, yellow, or green). After completing the rinse, you need to make sure and wash out the bottle thoroughly and let it dry so it is ready for the next use.
If I do the rinse at the first signs of a cold or allergies, I don't end up getting a sinus infection at all and can maintain good health. If I wait too long and the sinus infection has already set in, I do the rinse in the morning and evening (a couple of hours before bed) and am able to cure the infection without needing any medicine or prescriptions.
If I take any pill at all, I use an anti-inflammatory (usually Advil) to alleviate pressure in the sinuses, which also aids the sinuses in draining more. I'd never tried this strategy until my last sinus infection that I had to get antibiotics for. The infection was so bad that my teeth hurt so much that chewing food was intolerable. The doctor told me to use Advil (in addition to the antibiotics) and explained why.
Another option for an anti-inflammatory that is also a natural remedy is using an essential oil blend. Lavender oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. In addition to lavender, I mix in tea tree oil since it is a natural antibiotic. I use another oil as the base (you can use olive oil or something similar) and put a drop of the essential oil blend into the base oil. I then rub this oil onto my forehead, temples, or any other area of my sinuses that may be aching (do not put the oil in or too close to the eyes, mouth, nose, or ears).
I've noticed that this oil blend helps me and have noticed it is especially helpful for my little girl. When I put it on my little girl, her sinuses almost immediately start draining.
Essential oils are very strong and you do want to dilute them down in a base oil. You can buy an essential oil blend that has these two oils in it or you can make your own. If you make your own, you want less tea tree than lavender because the tea tree oil is especially strong.
Interestingly, when I was pregnant both times, my allergies barely bothered me. I thought it was odd the first time. When I learned more about hormone balance, I found out why I didn't suffer as much from allergies during my pregnancies. When your hormones are unbalanced and you have too much estrogen, you may suffer from allergies. During pregnancy, the progesterone levels continue to rise, which is why I experienced relief from my allergies.
Another option is to do allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy. It is the same idea as getting allergy shots, except that you put drops of the allergen that you are allergic to under your tongue instead of receiving them through a needle. These drops can lessen the allergic response that your body has to the problematic allergens. You can find them at local health food stores or online.
Another way to lessen your allergic response to seasonal allergies is to buy honey that is from a local farm. The honey will work similar to the allergy drops in that the pollen that the bee collects will give a small dose of different allergens and help the body to develop a tolerance, or a non-response, to the pollen.
Make sure not to give honey to a child younger than two. Honey can have a certain bacteria in it that a young child may not be able to fight off as well since their immune systems are still developing.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies or from sinus infections due to colds, you can prevent them and treat them with several natural remedies. Not only can the natural remedies work better and faster than traditional medicines, but they are also better for you, don't have the side effects that come with medicine, and are usually much cheaper.
I'm so glad that I've learned these remedies that I can do at home. They save me lots of money, aggravating trips to the doctor's office that I just don't have time or money for, and they are much better for me. I only wish I'd known about these when I was growing up!