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Sinusitis

What is Sinusitis?

  • Do you have headaches in the front of your head?
  • Do you have trouble breathing through your nose?
  • When you blow your nose, is the mucus thick or colored or both?
  • If so, you might have sinusitis- swollen or infected sinuses.

How can I tell if I have Sinusitis? You may have sinusitis if you experience:

  • stuffiness
  • sinus pressure or headaches
  • facial pain over the sinuses
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • thick and/or colored mucus
  • pain in the upper teeth
  • fever

Many of these symptoms are common with any cold or flu. Some are common with allergies, too. Often home treatment will take care of the problem, whatever its cause.

What Can I Do?

The basic idea of treatment is to reduce swelling, keep mucus very watery and avoid irritating the sinuses further.

HOME TREATMENT

Drink lots of fluids.

It's good to do this all the time. But it's especially important when you have a cold, flu or allergies. A glass of water or juice each hour helps keep mucus thin.

Avoid cigarette smoke, allergens and other irritants.

Smoke not only irritates sinus membranes, it also slows the motion of the cilia.

When you blow your nose, do it gently.

Clear both nostrils at once, even if only one nostril feels stopped up or is runny.

Take a hot shower, or use a humidifier.

Warm, moist air helps, unless you're allergic to molds. Humidity encourages mold growth.

Gargle with a warm saltwater solution.

This helps relieve a sore throat.

OVER-THE-COUNTER TREATMENTS
DECONGESTANTS


Oral decongestants reduce sinus swelling, and often provide good relief. (Don't take decongestants if you are taking MAO-inhibiting antidepressants.)

Decongestant sprays can also bring short-term relief. But constant use has the opposite effect- your nose actually gets stuffy in response to the spray.

Don't use decongestant sprays for more than 3 days. If you've been using a spray for longer then 3 days, stop. Spray-induced stuffiness can last awhile. This warning is stated on the labels of sprays.

SALT-WATER SPRAY

Use a salt-water spray to reduce swelling. You can buy one at a drugstore, or make your own. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt in one cup lukewarm water. Sniff this solution out of the palm of your hand, or put it into a clean dropper bottle.

ANTIHISTAMINES

If you have allergies, you can prevent sinus swelling by taking over-the-counter antihistamines before exposure to allergens.

But once swelling begins, antihistamines may make it worse because they may make mucus thicker.

If you have a cold or flu, or already have sinus pressure, don't take antihistamines.

IBUPROFEN OR ACETAMINOPHEN

These medicines relieve the pain of sinus headaches. Generic medicines are cheaper and just as effective as brand names.

Read the labels. Choose medications with only those ingredients you need. Many "cold remedies" have multiple active ingredients, including some- such as antihistamines- that you might not want.