Here are a few things you may not know about me: 1) I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it’s usually sinus pressure related. 2) I hate taking pills. However, I haven’t had a sinus infection that required antibiotics in four years, which is a huge deal to me—so huge that I just had to share it with you along with the home remedies I use that help so much.
I recently retested all of these methods because…well…I dashed out after my dog into 16 degrees in a t-shirt and underwear. Not my best idea. So, if your sinuses are acting up this week like mine, pick a few of these methods (or all of them) to try out, resist running outside in your skibbies, and let’s take care of ourselves together. Ok? 😉
1. Make and drink this simple, spicy tea at home.
Sometimes I wake up with a sinus headache and don’t even feel like leaving the house to get chips and salsa or anything else. I barely feel like getting out of bed, but I do just so I can make this tea and take good care of myself.
I call it Kenyan ginger tea because it reminds me of the delicious tea I drank at a little Kenyan restaurant in Morgantown, WV. This recipe is the closest I’ve ever come to replicating it, and it has all the ingredients needed to get your sinuses ‘on the mend’.
Spicy cayenne pepper stimulates sinus drainage; ginger helps soothe the stomach, which can become upset due to post nasal drip; and honey adds just the right sweetness and has antibacterial properties, helping ward off a sore throat. A dash of heavy cream, a pinch of cardamom, and a splash of vanilla extract make it extra delicious. It’s so tasty, I even drink this when I’m not sick!
2. Eat spicy foods.
Have you ever eaten hot sauce and noticed your nose running afterward? That’s exactly what you want to happen when your sinuses are all plugged up! Don’t overdo it; just eat as much as you can tolerate. I’m certainly not the type of person who can choke down ghost peppers and habaneros like they’re popcorn; when a food is that hot it drowns all other flavors…and burns my face off. If you can hack it, go for it! It will probably clear your sinuses faster.
My favorite way to incorporate spicy foods into my diet during sinus troubles is by ordering up some chips and spicy salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant. Wasabi is also a good option if you’re out and able to get it, as its piquancy seems to target the sinuses. I’ve even eaten sweet and spicy beef jerky from Walmart that helped me once during a long car trip. These are just the ones I’ve tried. Pick your favorite spicy food, and it’s likely to do the trick!
3. Use a Neti pot.
A Neti what? Allow me to explain if you’ve never heard of one of these little miracles before. It’s basically a tiny teapot in which you mix salt and hot water that you pour through your nose. You can buy cheap plastic ones from any drugstore or Walmart that come with a GAZILLION saline packets that will last for the rest of your life.
Before you run for the hills over this one, let me admit to you that it took me a long time before I conceded to use one myself. I was like, hello, you can drown in a teaspoon of water and you want me to pour a cup of it up my nose? No way. One fateful night, though, when I thought my head would explode from sinus pressure, I was willing to try anything…and there sat the humble Neti pot, beckoning me to give it a try. So I did, and now I can’t stop singing its praises.
It’s not nearly as scary or complicated as you think— I promise. You just have to remember to open your mouth (this closes off your throat and keeps you from swallowing the saline solution), hold your breath, tilt your head, and pour the liquid up one nostril. It goes up into your sinuses and comes back out the other nostril. You can stop and breathe anytime you like and blow your nose in between. Repeat until the Neti pot is empty, and then marvel at how much better your head feels. (Make sure you boil the water you use in your Neti Pot before pouring it up your nose! This will kill things you shouldn’t introduce into your nasal cavity. )
4. Rub on some Vicks salve.
This is kind of annoying during the daytime, not to mention kind of gross-looking to have unidentified, clear goo stuck to your face while you’re trying to teach math to a bunch of second graders. (Although, with second graders, you might just blend in a little better.)
But if you’re home for the day or you’re about to go to bed, slather some of this goo on your forehead, around your nose and nostrils, and well under your eyelids— atop all your achy sinuses. Menthol lends a cooling sensation which eases the pain of a throbbing head, and petrolatum is great for soothing noses in need that had scratchy toilet paper instead of Puffs indeed.
5. Rub on some peppermint essential oil.
It basically does the same job as the Vicks in providing a cooling sensation that acts as an analgesic. It smells better, is more natural, and provides a stronger cooling feeling that lasts longer. Because of its potency, you may want to dilute it in a carrier oil first (like coconut oil, olive oil, or grape seed oil) because it is a “hot oil” and will burn your skin if you apply too concentrated an amount onto your skin.
Also, make sure you rub it in well. Unlike Vicks, which sticks in one place well because of the petrolatum, essential oils will run if not rubbed in. You don’t want this since it’s so close to your eyes!
6. Apply a hot pad.
This is more for when you are about to go to bed or for when you’ve tried everything else and just need a moment of relief. It probably won’t ‘cure’ your headache, but it sure feels nice!
If you don’t have a store bought version, they are super easy to DIY by pouring a cup of rice into an old sock and tying it off. Pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds, and then place it on your achy spots.
7. Stay in an upright position.
I know this can be really hard. With sinus headaches, the head pain and associated eye fatigue can make you want to curl up and stay in bed. Staying in bed, though, often makes me feel even worse.
I have noticed that if I use some, if not all, of these home remedies and even just sit in an upright position, my pain dissipates quicker. As the gunk in your head breaks up after you use other methods, sitting upright allows gravity to pull it down and out. If you can push through and do something active (vacuum the living room, do some jumping jacks, etc…), all that junk gets shaken down even faster.
Are you a sufferer of sinus problems? Have you tried any of the above methods with success? Were any of these new to you? Is there any method NOT on the list that you would like to share? Please do! I’m on a mission to wipe out my sinus pain and infections forever!
I am not a medical professional and have only expressed methods of treating sinus pain that have worked for me. Even though I try really hard not to, I sometimes break down and take an ibuprofen or something stronger.
In short, these methods work for me, but they may not work for you! Don’t put off going to the doctor if you develop a fever that you can’t get rid of; you probably have a sinus infection and will need antibiotics once you progress to that point.
For the purpose of being totally transparent with you guys, I wanted to let you know that after a few days of being exposed to lots of dust I did develop a sinus infection, even while using these remedies. 🙁 This is the first one in four years, and I did have to take some stronger meds like Dayquil. I didn’t, however, develop a fever like I have in the past and did NOT have to get an antibiotic!
It was hard. Like, my teeth hurt when I ran, my ears were clogged for a week, and I developed a super annoying nighttime cough. But, with mostly natural methods and a few stronger supplements, my body was able to fight off the infection sans antibiotics. That’s still a win in my book. 🙂
I hope that a sinus headache never ever comes your way. But if it does, try out a Neti pot for me, ok? I DARE you. 😉