Sinuses are tiny air-filled cavities behind the cheekbones and forehead. They produce mucus that drains inside the nose to keep it moist. The mucus protects against dust, pollutants, and allergens. When one has a sinus infection, the channels for draining mucus into the nose are blocked due to the inflammation of the sinus linings. Sometimes, the air-filled cavities may fill with fluid that can host germs that foster infections. Sinuses are one of the first lines of defense against harmful elements to your airways. Keeping this in mind, here are some easy ways to keep your sinuses healthy.
1. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated keeps the mucus thin and hence easier to flow through the nasal passages. Dehydration causes stagnant mucus to build up in the sinuses and lungs. The mucosal blockage causes irritation and inflammation of the sinuses. When the thick mucus remains in the sinuses for extended periods, bacteria flourishes. That can lead to worse problems like pneumonia and bronchitis. Drinking plenty of water prevents thick mucus and ensures that the sinus membranes function as they should. What you drink also matters. For some people, dairy products cause high mucus production leading to sinus congestion and pressure. For others, alcohol may cause similar issues. Drinking adequate water and staying away from any drinks that cause sinus congestion will keep your sinuses healthy.
2. Use a humidifier
For proper sinus health, the nose and sinuses need to be moist. It is, therefore, necessary to breathe moist and humid air. Dry air tends to dry out the sinuses hindering their ability to naturally clear and irrigate as they should, compromising the system for trapping dirt. That could lead to pain, pressure, and infections if the dirt build-up is not treated. Try using a humidifier, especially during hot and dry conditions. You can use a hygrometer to check the humidity levels in your home to determine when you need to turn on the humidifier. Ensure that you clean the humidifier regularly to remove any dirt build-up. Alternatively, you could opt to stand in a hot shower to keep your sinuses moist.
3. Use a warm compress
If you are struggling with sinus congestion, a warm compress could give you some relief. Applying a warm towel on your face helps to thin out any excess mucus. The thinned mucus can then drain effectively and avoid clogging the sinuses. You could also take deep breaths while inhaling warm steam for the same effect.
4. Use saline solutions
Inducing nasal irrigation helps to relieve the sinus of painful pressure. Irrigating your sinuses with lukewarm saltwater helps to reduce sinus infections. The saline solution will wash out any mucus and allergens from the sinuses offering natural sinus relief minus the adverse pharmaceutical effects.
You can get a saline nasal spray from your local pharmacy. Alternatively, you could use a Neti pot to clear out your nasal and sinus passages. There are numerous neti pot benefits that can help your sinuses. Among them being cleansing the sinuses, soothing any inflammation, reducing nasal dryness, and also eases sinus headaches.
5. Stay away from pollutants and allergens
Most people develop sinus problems when they inhale dust, mould, pet dander or other kinds of allergens. Pollutants like smoke, hairspray and aerosols are also common culprits that cause sinus pressure and congestion. For the health of your sinuses, you need to stay away from these pollutants and allergens. You could use an air conditioner or keep your windows closed during the pollen season. If you are working in a mouldy area, wear a mask. Ensure that you change the filter for your air conditioner regularly to remove unwanted elements from the circulated air.
6. Get over the counter medicine
If the sinus congestions are getting to you and affecting the quality of your day-to-day life, consider getting some over the counter decongestants and mucus thinning medicine. But before that, you need to first check with your doctor if it is safe for you to take the over-the-counter decongestants. Also, it is worth noting that you should not use nasal decongestant sprays for more than three days. Prolonged use of nasal decongestant spray may lead to worse nasal congestion and nose irritation. If you have sinus problems even after taking the OTC medicine, you need to visit your doctor to determine the best course of action. Your healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics.
7.Practise good hygiene
Sometimes, maintaining proper sinus health boils down to basic hygiene. Seemingly simple things like covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Most sinus infections are caused by bacteria and viruses that you may get from other people. The bacteria and virus could also get to your nose when you touch your face with your dirty hands. It is, therefore, crucial to wash your hands regularly and avoid close contact with people with respiratory infections to prevent infection and avoid spreading any viruses or bacteria to someone else.
8. Get enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to various upper respiratory ailments like allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis and asthma. We get vitamin D from the interaction of sunlight on our skins. Staying indoors and the reduced sunlight in winter could sometimes lead to Vitamin D deficiency. If you are prone to being Vitamin D deficient, you could opt for supplementation to reduce the chances of sinus congestion and other respiratory tract infections. Visit a healthcare provider to get proper supplementation or vitamin D replacement if you have low levels.
9. Air pressure
Shifts in air pressure could lead to discomfort for people with sinus problems seeing that sinuses are air-filled cavities. Changes in air pressure, as typical during air travel, may lead to sinus pressure or congestion. If you have sinus issues and need to fly, you need to consult your doctor on whether to use a decongestant or nasal spray.
Sinus pressure and congestion can cause pain or difficulty in breathing. Sinus health is crucial since any infections could easily travel to other areas like the brain and the heart leading to more complications. It helps that there are ways like the ones above that keep the sinuses healthy. You should seek help from a qualified doctor if you have any persistent symptoms.