Saline sprays or rinses can help remove mucous membranes and bacteria from the nose, easing symptoms of sinus infection.

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If you have pesky symptoms like congestion, facial pressure, and post-nasal drip, they could be signs that a sinus infection is building up in your nasal cavity.

Sinus infections, better known as sinusitis, affect an estimated 31 million people in the United States each year, and they spend more than $ 1 billion on over-the-counter drugs to treat them, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology.

Fortunately, most cases of acute sinusitis get better on their own, Moshe Ephrat, MD, a certified ENT surgeon with ENT and Allergy Associates in New York City, told

Because a little personal care is usually all that is needed to relieve sinus symptoms, we asked several ENTs what they do when a sinus infection occurs – and how you can follow your own process. healing.

1. “I’m taking a decongestant”

“When I feel the first signs of a sinus infection, I do what I can to facilitate the drainage and allow it to pass on its own,” says Dr. Ephrat. “It’s important that your sinuses can drain because the mucus buildup can eventually become infected with bacteria.”

He does this with over-the-counter medications: “I prefer Mucinex D – which is a mucolytic and decongestant that lasts 12 hours – and take it daily until the symptoms go away.”

Make sure you take it in the morning so that it is out of your system at night, adds Dr Ephrat, otherwise it could prevent you from sleeping at night.

2. “I use a sinus rinse”

When Nicole Aaronson, MD, pediatric ENT at Alfred I. duPont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, has a sinus infection, irrigating or “flushing” her sinuses with saline solution considerably – and immediately – improves. its congestion.

“Sinus rinses help by manually flushing debris, irritants, mucous membranes and bacteria from the nose,” she says. “I prefer the squeeze bottle style to the neti pot, but it’s all about personal comfort.”

How to rinse your sinuses

  1. Fill a clean nasal wash bottle ($ 12.99; with distilled water or boiled water cooled to room temperature (never tap water!). The bottle must be less than three months old, says Dr. Aaronson.
  2. Add sachets of saline according to product instructions.
  3. Place the vial in one nostril and tilt your head slightly forward. Squeeze the bottle slowly and gently (too much pressure will force water up through the eustachian tubes into the middle ear, which can be uncomfortable, says Dr. Aaronson.
  4. Repeat as needed to relieve congestion and mucus buildup.


Dr Aaronson recommends rinsing the sinuses in the shower, so any mess can be easily washed away.

Hot tea is a good drink choice for sinusitis.

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Another must-have gesture that Dr. Aaronson uses to soothe symptoms of a sinus infection is to stay hydrated, especially with hot tea.

“Hydration helps thin the viscosity of the mucus, making it easier to expel from the nose and sinuses,” she says. “The vapor of hot liquids is particularly useful for clearing up nasal secretions and soothing your throat.”

If her throat is particularly sore (from cough or post-nasal drip), she adds honey to her tea to coat and soothe the mucous membranes. “There is also data on the antibacterial properties of medical grade manuka honey improving infections and speeding healing,” she says.

4. “I am taking an anti-inflammatory”

“During the first week of a sinus infection, I will take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Advil Cold & Sinus, to both decrease inflammation and reduce swelling”, Ameet R. Kamat, MD, director of sinus and skull base surgery at White Plains Hospital in New York City, tells “It makes it easier for me to breathe and improves my ability to clear my sinuses.”


Always follow the package directions when taking over-the-counter medications, and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns about side effects or interactions with other medications.

Dr Kamat also keeps a humidifier in his room and takes very hot showers to “improve the hydration of the nasal mucosa and decrease the viscosity of the mucous membranes, so that my body is better able to eliminate infected material and to drain. my sinuses “.

The result? Open airways and better breathing.

6. “I keep the salt spray on standby”

Saline sprays work the same way as sinus rinses, helping to cleanse the mucous membranes and soothe the nasal passages.

“I love using Euka’s infused cold and allergy-infused salt spray throughout the day,” says Beverly Hills-based ENT Shawn Nasseri, MD. “It’s infused with essential oils, including eucalyptus, contains glycerin for extra hydration and is alkaline for added comfort.”

  1. For best results, direct the nasal spray towards the back of one nostril while closing the other with your finger.
  2. With your mouth closed, gently squeeze the spray applicator and inhale lightly.
  3. The usual recommendation is two sprays per nostril, but check the label of your chosen salt spray to be sure.

7. “I use the quadruped position”

Spending time on your hands and knees can help gravity drain your sinuses.

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“If my facial pain or pressure is intense, I sometimes put my head down on the ground while on my hands and knees,” says Dr Kamat. This is called a quadrupedal position (similar to the table pose in yoga).

“The position of the cheek sinus opening is elevated along the nasal wall and known to be poor for natural or passive drainage due to gravity,” says Dr. Kamat. “In this position, the opening is better able to drain and has been shown to reduce the duration of a sinus infection.”

8. “I keep an eye on my symptoms”

Jonathan Overdevest, MD, assistant professor of rhinology and skull base surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, is letting time decide how best to treat his sinus infections.

“We all want to find ways to minimize the impact of our symptoms and introduce treatments that will speed up our recovery,” he says. “The challenge is knowing which symptoms require higher level care (antibiotics, systemic steroids, expert assessment) and which will improve on their own.”

Time becomes an important distinguishing factor in knowing which symptoms may require intensified treatment.

“In general, any perceived sinus infection that is accompanied by severe symptoms – persistent high fever, chills, changes in vision, persistent severe headache, or altered appearance – would require a more urgent physical evaluation,” says- he.

For less severe situations, monitor your symptoms to see if they persisted for more than a week or if they were bad, then initially improved, only to get worse again over a period of seven to seven. 10 days. If any of these scenarios are true, you are more likely to have an acute bacterial sinus infection that would benefit from antibiotic treatment.

“I personally remember that time when I was dealing with sinus symptoms in an attempt to avoid overexposure to antibiotics,” says Dr. Overdevest. “While they are beneficial in some scenarios, they will have no effect on the viral causes of the disease, which are typically those with symptoms lasting less than seven to 10 days.”

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