Natural Remedies for Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. A sinus is an open cavity; the human skull contains eight sinus cavities.

The most common causes of sinusitis are infection and allergies. Infection from colds, flu, etc. spread easily from the nose because of their direct continuity into the sinuses. Nose blowing, sneezing, swimming, and diving during an upper respiratory infection may hasten the spread of the infection.

The nasal mucus contains lysozyme, a powerful antibacterial agent which makes the epithelium of the nose and sinuses quite resistant to infection. Such things as tobacco smoke, alcohol, many medications, and infection decrease the effectiveness of the body's natural protective system and predispose the patient to sinus infections.

True sinusitis is not as common as television advertisements would have us think. Out of every 100 patients who go to an otolaryngologist because of “sinus trouble”, fewer than ten actually have sinusitis.

Symptoms of sinusitis are nasal obstruction and discharge, headache, lack of appetite, nausea, cough, sore throat, swelling and pain over the sinuses involved. The patient may have a low-grade fever, but with severe infection it may rise as high as 104°F.

Maxillary sinusitis pain is usually located in the upper teeth and cheek, but eye pain may be present. The discomfort generally begins in late morning and clears by late afternoon on a daily basis.

When the frontal sinuses are involved, frontal headaches most severe between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. are common.

A constant dull pain behind the eyes suggests ethmoid sinusitis. There may also be sensitivity to light, pain on eye movements, tearing, and sometimes sore throat and nighttime cough.


1. Smoking irritates the mucous membranes and inhibits the body's natural cleansing system in the nose, and should be avoided.

2. Avoid cold, damp conditions and chilling as these induce vasoconstriction, lower leukocyte response, and impair phagocytic capabilities predisposing to infections.

3. Maintain a constant room temperature as temperature changes aggravate sinusitis. Air conditioning seems to aggravate sinusitis.

4. A humidity of 40 to 50 degrees will increase comfort.

5. Adequate fluid intake encourages sinus drainage.

6. A room vaporizor may facilitate drainage.

7. Avoid the use of nose drops as they may induce a rebound effect. Vasoconstrictors are used to reduce nasal congestion. Used too frequently or over too long a period of time they become ineffective and may actually worsen the condition. Engorgement is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Vasoconstrictors stimulate sympathetic nerves, inducing a compensatory relaxation of the vessels of the turbinates after the effects of the nose drops wear off. This relaxation produces nasal stuffiness, causing the nose to be more stuffy than it was before. It takes two or three weeks without the use of nose drops before the reflexes return to normal.

8. Heat over the sinuses often relieves pain. Hot wet compresses, a heat lamp, a 60-watt incandescent light such as a shop lamp, or heating pad may be used.

9. Sniffing warm salt water up into the nose may wash the excess mucus out. Add one-fourth teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of water. It will cause some people to sneeze which will assist in clearing the nose. A bulb syringe from the pharmacy can be a very efficient method of irrigating nasal and pharyngeal passages.

10. Several exercises are valuable in sinusitis. Do them twice a day.

A. Lie across your bed, face down, with the upper body hanging over the side. Rest your head and lower arm on the floor. Lie face down for three minutes, turn on your left side for three minutes, then on the right side for three minutes. Return to the face down position and cough gently. Hold your breath after each cough for a few seconds, then inhale gently.

B. Sit with your head between your knees. Cough gently as though clearing your throat. Hold your breath for a few minutes to let the mucus drain, then gently inhale.

C. Tap your chest in a regular pattern from the bottom of your chest up toward the neck, and back again, using the fingertips of both hands. Have a helper do the same on your back while you tap the front.

11. Peppermint tea may be helpful to open up the passageways. Some people like a peppermint leaf compress over the affected sinuses.

12. Swimming and diving may wash nasal infection into sinuses, and should be avoided if one has any type of infection. Air travel may act similarly. Avoid flying during respiratory tract infections. Sudden changes in altitude may produce sudden swelling, hemorrhage and pain within the sinus.

13. Allergic rhinitis is a common cause of sinusitis. Avoid any substances you know or suspect allergy to.

14. Some people prefer cold applications to the sinuses rather than hot. Crushed ice may be sealed in a plastic bag and the bag wrapped in a slightly moist towel and applied over the painful sinuses. Put the feet in a hot foot bath at the same time. The cold decreases the flow of blood in the congested sinus membranes, while the hot foot bath draws the blood to the feet.

15. A hot foot bath by itself is often very effective in opening up nasal passages. Keep the feet in the hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Conclude the treatment by a brief coldwater pour to the feet. Rest in bed after the treatment until sweating stops. The treatment may be done several times a day.

16. A hot compress applied to the face is often effective in opening up nasal passages. Squeeze a towel from hot water and apply to a painful area for five minutes, then squeeze a towel from ice water and apply it for 30 seconds. Repeat three times, ending with the cold.

17. Fasting may be quite helpful, although initially symptoms may be worse because of the increased rate of release of toxins. Fever-inducing baths and hot foot baths will help control symptoms.

18. Six charcoal tablets taken between meals twice daily will assist in the removal of toxins from the body.

19. Garlic tea may be made by boiling four cups of water, removing from heat and adding crushed garlic cloves, is reported to relieve stuffiness.

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