10 Home Remedies for Sinus Infections

A sinus infection, officially called sinusitis, causes the nasal cavities and passages in your nose, under your eyes, across your forehead, and all the way to… Teri B Clark - May 15, 2016

A sinus infection, officially called sinusitis, causes the nasal cavities and passages in your nose, under your eyes, across your forehead, and all the way to your ears to swell. These infections can be caused by both viruses and bacteria, and most will clear up without medical intervention on their own in 2 to 3 weeks. Because they last such a short time, they are known as acute infections.

However, some people are not so lucky. They get sinus infections over and over again, developing what is known as chronic sinusitis. Sinusitis is considered chronic if one infection lasts more than two months OR someone gets infections constantly.

Whether you have acute or chronic sinusitis, you know how bad you feel. The pain behind the nose and around the eyes can pound and ache, often making your head feel like it is too heavy for your body. Sometimes, the pain can spread across the entire face, even affecting the way you chew.

In addition to the swelling, most people with sinusitis have green or yellow drainage in the nose. This makes breathing difficult and can cause throat irritation as it drains from the sinuses. This drainage can lead to a cough, which often leads to a pounding headache. If the infection is severe enough, you can even develop a fever. It is a good idea to check with your doctor when you have a sinus infection because you want to know the root cause so that it doesn’t keep happening.

However, while waiting to see a doctor, there is no need to suffer. Here are 10 easy home remedies that can help you recover more quickly while addressing the issues of pain and congestion. In fact, for many people, simply using these techniques will help them steer clear of any prescription medication.


Inhale Steam

1. Use Steam

If you have congestion, whether from sinusitis or any upper respiratory illness, inhaling steam is an effective way to reduce it. Steam makes the mucus thinner, which lets it drain more easily. This makes you feel less congested. Plus, ridding the sinus cavities of the mucus often shortens the length of your illness.

As if this isn’t enough, sitting in the steam will help clear up your skin. Who doesn’t want a bonus when sick?

How do you inhale steam? Simply boil some water and put it into a large bowl. Cover your head with a towel and lower your head and towel towards the basin. The towel will create a tent to keep the steam in. You may feel that it is too hot at first. This is a typical reaction. However, stick with it for a minute or two, and your body will adjust to the humidity.

While under the tent, be sure to breathe in and out through your nose. Take deep breaths to allow the steam into all the sinus cavities throughout your head. Do this for about ten minutes. When you are through, you should be able to breathe more easily through your nose and feel less pressure in your sinuses.

Some people like adding essential oils to their steam to make it even more effective. Try using oils that have decongestant properties, such as wintergreen, sage, eucalyptus, or peppermint. Be sure to follow the directions on the label so that you do not saturate the steam with too much oil.

If you have sensitive skin, an eye mask might be in order. This will keep the sensitive skin around your eyes protected.

Saline solution

2. Rinse with a Saline Solution

Another way to thin out the mucus is with a saline rinse. This is sometimes called saline irrigation or saline lavage. Saline rinses are not only good at clearing out infected sinuses, but many believe that it can help prevent infections from spreading and may even prevent recurrences. In addition to thinning the mucus, irrigating your nose will keep it moist, which makes your nose more comfortable during an infection.

Saline solution is nothing more than a salt solution. You can make your own by dissolving one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Just use ordinary table salt but be sure to use sterilized water. To sterilize your water, boil it and then let it cool to lukewarm.

After you have made your saline solution, use a bulb syringe or a Neti Pot to put the saline into your nose. This can be a messy process, so do it over a sink. Tilt your head with your ear over the sink, then put the solution into the nostril that is on top. Allow it to flow through the sinus cavities and out the nostril that is over the sink. Afterward, blow your nose to get rid of any remaining mucus and liquid. Then repeat for the opposite side.

The feeling of water running between your nostrils can be uncomfortable but should not be painful. The salt may produce a mild burning sensation, but for most people, this subsides after irrigating a few times.

Never use hot water for a saline rinse.

facial massage

3. Get a Facial Massage

A facial massage can help in two ways. First, it can help unblock your nose, allowing the sinuses to drain. Secondly, it can provide relief from pain. The best part is that you can give yourself a face massage wherever you happen to be.

To give a facial massage, use your index fingers. You may choose to use your index and middle fingers together. Start at the inner corners of your eyebrows and apply rotating pressure. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds. Then move to either side of the bridge of your nose. After applying rotating pressure for 20 to 30 seconds, move to your cheekbones and apply rotating pressure for 20 to 30 seconds.

Next, stroke your face. Start at your cheekbones and move to your ears. Finally, use your index fingers to press behind the earlobes.

This can be repeated every 2 hours to help ease the pain.

If you find this difficult to do on your own, ask your partner, a family member, or a close friend to help you. Many people find it more relaxing to have someone else doing the massage.


4. Use Compresses

When it comes to a sinus infection, both hot and cold compresses can offer relief. For most people, the ideal solution is to first use a hot compress and then follow up with a cold one. Doing so can relieve the pressure and pain caused by sinusitis since the cold reduces pain and the hot reduces inflammation. The hot compresses also thin and loosen the mucus, allowing it to drain so that you can breathe easier and recover faster.

To make a hot compress, soak a small towel in hot water. Ring it out, and then place it over your nose and eyes for about three minutes. When the three minutes is up, soak another towel in cold water. Ring it out, and then place it over your nose and eyes for about 30 seconds.

Do this until you feel better. You can repeat this cycle up to six times day, and many people find it very effective.

As with steam inhalation, you may want to add essential oils to the hot compress. Two that help to breathe are tea tree or peppermint oils. If you want to relax, you might try lavender. Many people find that using lavender helps them sleep better, even when sick with a sinus infection.

If you have a sinus headache, a hot compress on the forehead can help reduce this pain.

eucalyptus oil

5. Use Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus is a natural decongestant and respiratory anti-inflammatory. This is because it contains cineole, which has been shown to reduce congestion and inflammation.

There are many ways to use eucalyptus oil. The first is to make a skin treatment. Do this by stirring 2 drops of oil into one tablespoon of olive oil. Apply this treatment to your face and along the edges of your nostrils. This will help reduce the swelling in your face as well as your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe.

As stated earlier, you can also add 5 to 8 drops into boiling water for steam inhalation.

Finally, you can take eucalyptus oil orally in capsule form. Many studies suggest that this can help those with chronic sinusitis. One study by the University of Maryland Medical Center found that swallowing eucalyptus oil was similar to taking an antibiotic. It also worked as an expectorant, meaning that it allowed the body to loosen up and expel the mucus.

No matter which way you decide to go, eucalyptus oil can really help with sinus infections.

Do not start taking eucalyptus oil supplements without talking to your doctor first because they interact with many medications, including those for diabetes and any medication metabolized in the liver. Once you have doctor approval, be sure to note any side effects and discuss them with a medical professional.

cayenne pepper

6. Eat Cayenne Pepper

The great thing about using cayenne pepper is that most people have it in their kitchen cupboards, so it is always on hand. The active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. Capsaicin helps the sinus infection sufferer in two ways.

First, cayenne is known to thin the mucus, thus making it easier to breathe. If you cannot blow your nose, then cayenne pepper may be a good solution.

Secondly, cayenne pepper can relieve pain, especially sinus headache pain. Even those that feel the pain all the way to the jaw or in the ears find that cayenne can help. Studies have even shown that cayenne pepper can reduce the pain of cluster, tension, and even some migraine headaches.

The easiest way to take cayenne pepper is by making tea. Mix ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a cup of boiling water. Then add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.

To get the most out of the tea, inhale the steam while it is too hot to drink. Then drink the tea when it is cool enough to drink.

If you don’t like the idea of drinking tea, you can buy capsaicin nasal spray at most drug stores. This can also be useful for those suffering from allergies.


7. Drink Turmeric Smoothies

Turmeric is another spice that can be found in your kitchen cupboard. Though not as common as cayenne pepper, it is just as effective when it comes to helping with a sinus infection. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a known anti-inflammatory. It is often used for inflammatory diseases like arthritis but works well for swelling in sinus infections. Additionally, turmeric acts as a decongestant.

The best-tasting way to use turmeric is by making a smoothie. To make a delicious turmeric smoothie, add a 3-inch piece of turmeric root, a ripe banana, 1 cup of water, and honey to taste. You may also want to add some ice cubes to make it thicker and colder. As the turmeric comes into contact with your swollen throat, it will help reduce the swelling. This smoothie is also great for any upper respiratory infection.

If you cannot find fresh turmeric root, you can use the powdered form. Use 1 teaspoon for each inch of root.

Finally, you can also get turmeric capsules in a health food store or online. This is good for those that suffer from chronic sinusitis.

Do not use turmeric if you are taking blood thinners. Turmeric increases the potency of these drugs, and this could lead to bleeding issues.

raw garlic

8. Chew on Raw Garlic

Raw garlic is well-known for its medicinal properties and especially well-known for fighting sinus infections. Garlic contains allicin and sulfur. These compounds are antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. This means that garlic can relieve the symptoms of a sinus infection while fighting the root cause at the same time.

To use raw garlic, you can simply chew on a raw garlic clove. However, many people find this to be disgusting and just can’t make themselves do it. Here are a few alternatives:

  • Make a topping for bread: Peel and chop 3 garlic cloves, add a little olive oil and salt, spread onto bread.
  • Make a salad dressing: 1 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon of basil, 2 cups of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, and 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Put on a salad. This keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Any recipe that calls for raw garlic.

The garlic must be raw. Cooked garlic is not as potent and will not have the benefits you are seeking.


9. Drink Horseradish Root

Horseradish is another popular spice that can help sinusitis sufferers. Like garlic, it has an antibiotic effect and also helps to clear out blocked nasal passages. Horseradish contains allyl isothiocyanate, which has made it a leading home remedy for infections. Other chemicals go to work on the circulation of blood in the face and the thinning of mucus.

To use horseradish, get a large, raw horseradish root and grate it. Add these pieces to a tablespoon of honey and the juice of one lemon. Stir until combined. Take one tablespoon of the mixture four times a day.

You can also make this with apple cider vinegar instead of honey. However, the soothing nature of honey feels good on the throat, which is especially useful when you have a cough or drainage associated with a sinus infection.

To really clear up your nasal passages, put a teaspoon of grated horseradish in your mouth for as long as you can. Once the flavor of the horseradish isn’t as strong, swallow it. This will help thin the mucus in your throat.

Horseradish contains a high quantity of Vitamin C. Vitamin C will help you increase your immune system’s response to disease, thus helping you avoid further infections.

apple cider vinegar

10. Apple Cider Vinegar Nose Spray

People use apple cider vinegar for everything. You can find it as an ingredient for homemade cleaning products as well as for health remedies.

The main benefits of apple cider vinegar are its antiseptic properties. This helps to clear up infection by killing off the bacteria found in the tissues. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to bring down swelling. But that is not all. Apple cider vinegar also contains a large amount of potassium, which keeps mucus from forming.

The easiest way to use apple cider vinegar is to spray a solution up your nose. Get an empty nasal spray bottle. If it has been used before, sterilize it before use. Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and then fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water. Shake before using. Spray the solution up each nostril up to three times a day. You should find it easier to breathe.

You can also drink apple cider vinegar to rid yourself of sinus infection symptoms. Do this by combining 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 6 ounces of warm water. You may add honey or stevia to sweeten it up. Drink this twice a day. You may also gargle with it to clear out your throat.

This is also a good way to reduce allergies because apple cider vinegar is a natural antihistamine.

sinus infection tips

If you are suffering from a sinus infection, suffer no more. Instead, try one of these easy home remedies. Trying these can greatly reduce your symptoms and allow you to rest comfortably.

Do keep in mind, however, that you should always have sinusitis diagnosed by a doctor. Sinusitis may just be an indication that other things are wrong with your system that could require additional treatments. This is especially true if you have repeated infections. Also, be sure to go back to the doctor if your sinusitis doesn’t clear up in 2 to 3 weeks.