Homecare for a Sinus Infection

For many people, spring brings allergies. Unfortunately, allergies often bring sinus infections along with them. If you’re wondering how you can treat a sinus infection when you can’t get to the doctor, our team is here to help.

Syed Farhat Zaidi, MD, and our compassionate care team at Integrative Primary Care in Houston want to help you both in and outside the office. We’ve curated this guide to help you understand the signs and symptoms of sinus infections and your home-care options.

What is a sinus infection?

The hollow spaces in the bones of your face around your eyes, nose, and cheeks are called sinus cavities. Sinus cavities are lined with mucous membranes to help them stay moist. These membranes can become inflamed or irritated due to allergies or a cold. 

When this happens, the sinuses increase mucus production to soothe the irritated membranes. The excess mucus can then get trapped in the inflamed passageways. This can make breathing hard, and the added moisture and mucus can provide the perfect environment for infections.

As a result, you can end up with a sinus infection. Sinus infections can last longer than the original cold or allergies that triggered their development. 

How can I tell if I have a sinus infection?

Sinus infections can seem like a common cold or seasonal allergies at first. To help you tell the difference, here are five symptoms of a sinus infection: 

1. Cold-like symptoms that last for more than 7-10 days

With a cold, symptoms are typically at their worst around the second or third day, and full recovery usually takes about a week. If your symptoms don’t improve after 7-10 days, a sinus infection could be the problem.  

2. Colored or thick nasal mucus 

When your nasal mucus is caused by a cold or allergies, it’s usually clear or white. If you notice you’re producing yellow or green mucus or mucus that’s very thick, a sinus infection is typically the cause.

3. Pain in your face

Pressure, swelling, or tenderness in the areas of your sinus cavities or in your jaw, ear, or teeth are indicators of a sinus infection. This pain typically gets worse when you bend over or tip your face forward, because it increases the pressure in those cavities.

4. Bad breath that doesn’t get brushed away

If you’ve noticed a sudden case of bad breath and brushing hasn’t helped, a sinus infection might be the cause. That’s because the constant draining of your nasal passageways can create odors in your mouth. 

5. Sore throat and postnasal drip

Postnasal drip can irritate your throat and lead to coughing. With a sinus infection, the cough typically gets worse late in the day and first thing in the morning. 

How can I care for a sinus infection at home?

The good news is that most sinus infections get better on their own. You can speed up the process by following these home-care tips: 

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Staying hydrated will help thin the mucus in your sinuses and aid in drainage. Staying hydrated will also lubricate your sinuses and reduce irritation.

2. Rest to recover

If you’re suffering from a sinus infection, take a break from physical exertion. Be sure to get plenty of sleep at night, and take rest breaks during the day so your body can recover and use its energy to make you well. 

3. Help your sinus cavities stay moist

Try using a humidifier in your room at night to keep your passages moist while you sleep. During the day, you can use steam to add moisture to your sinuses. Fill a bowl with hot water, then cover your head and the bowl with a thick towel and lean over it for about 10 minutes. 

4. Use a neti pot

Nasal irrigation with a gentle saline solution is a great tool against sinus infections. Using a neti pot is a simple and inexpensive way to accomplish this. Watch an online tutorial about using a neti pot, and make your own saline solution by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sea salt into 1 pint of filtered or distilled water. Finally, add a pinch of baking soda to the solution. 

5. Try warm compresses

Ease the pain and alleviate sinus pressure with a warm compress. Soak a washcloth in hot water, wring out the excess water, and place it on the parts of your face that are most affected.  

If your symptoms last longer than 10 days or they’re accompanied by a fever over 102°F, contact Dr. Zaidi for an expert assessment. To learn more about sinus infections and how to treat them, book an appointment online or over the phone with Integrative Primary Care today.

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