Simple remedies can ease sinus woes

Saltwater nasal sprays, warm compresses and other do-it-yourself remedies can help lessen the misery of inflamed sinuses, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic.

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Reuters Health, quoting the Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource, reveals some of the steps the Mayo experts recommend so people can take on their own to battle sinusitis.

Sinusitis refers to inflammation in the sinuses, the air-filled cavities that surround the nose and nasal passages. Symptoms include pain and pressure in the forehead, cheeks and area around the eyes; nasal congestion and discharge; ear pain; and reduced sense of taste and smell.

Sinusitis often begins when a cold, which is caused by a virus, leads to inflammation in the lining of the sinuses. Sometimes, this leads to a bacterial infection, which then creates a longer bout of sinusitis — lasting longer than 10 to 14 days.

Other causes of sinusitis include allergies, a deviation in the wall between the nostrils (deviated septum) and harmless growths called nasal polyps.

Sinusitis caused by a virus typically clears up on its own. But when symptoms last longer than 10 to 14 days, a secondary bacterial infection is often the culprit, according to the Mayo experts. In such cases, antibiotics — and, therefore, a trip to the doctor — may be necessary.

There are, however, simple do-it-yourself methods for easing sinusitis misery. One measure is to use saline (saltwater) washes or sprays to flush out the nasal passages, removing thick secretions and allowing the sinuses to drain. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps drain the sinus cavities by diluting mucus.

A little warmth may also help. This can mean “steaming” the sinuses by covering your head with a towel as you breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water, or placing warm, damp towels on the face, over the sinus cavities.

Finally, avoid drinking and smoking. Alcohol can worsen the swelling in the sinus cavities, while cigarette smoke — including secondhand smoke — further irritates the nasal passages.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource, October 2008. 

 

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