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7 Home Remedies for Sinus Pressure and Congestion

7 Home Remedies for Sinus Pressure and Congestion

By Your Health Staff
Posted: March 6, 2024

Sinusitis is usually a minor health issue. Still, sinus pressure and congestion can significantly impact your comfort and day-to-day functioning. Knowing how to respond to symptoms and when to call your doctor can help you feel better and get back to your usual self.

Causes and Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sinus issues can be caused by several conditions, including allergies, bacterial or fungal infections, nasal polyps or viruses, such as the common cold. When the lining in the sinus passages is inflamed or swollen, it’s called sinusitis, or a sinus infection.

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Mucus dripping down into the throat
  • Pressure and pain in the sinuses
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose

You can try many steps at home to help relieve sinus pressure, congestion and pain from sinusitis.

1. Try Irrigation

Irrigating or rinsing out the nasal passages can help relieve congestion. This can be done with a neti pot, homemade saline rinse or store-bought spray.

A neti pot is a teapot-like device made for nasal irrigation. Before using a neti pot, wash your hands. Ensure the device is clean and dry, then follow the instructions that came with your neti pot.

Like a neti pot, a saline rinse cleans nasal passages. You can make your own saline rinse at home using a bulb syringe or squeeze bottle, or you can buy a premade saline nasal spray at the pharmacy.

Regardless of which type of nasal irrigator you choose, talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist first to ensure you’re irrigating nasal passages effectively and safely.

2. Prioritize Hydration

Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and help drain and thin mucus in the sinuses. Flavored, plain or sparkling water or other clear liquids are ideal options. Sports drinks and other beverages with added carbohydrates, electrolytes, minerals or vitamins aren’t necessary for most people.

3. Use a Warm Compress to Relieve Sinus Pressure and Congestion

Make a warm compress with a dampened washcloth and warm water. Put it over your forehead and nose multiple times a day to relieve pressure in the sinuses. The compress should feel warm but not hot to the touch.

4. Breathe in Steam

Steam can decrease your congestion and increase comfort. Breathe in steam for a few minutes two to four times a day. You can take a warm shower, sit in the bathroom with warm water running, or heat water in a bowl and inhale the steam. Avoid breathing in hot steam that may cause burns.

5. Consider a Humidifier

Dry nasal passages can worsen symptoms of a sinus infection. Keep nasal passages moist and improve comfort with a humidifier.

For best results:

  • Choose a cool-mist humidifier.
  • Drain and clean the humidifier daily to avoid bacteria and mold growth.
  • Only use distilled water in the humidifier.
  • Position the humidifier about 6 feet away from your bed.
  • Set the humidity level to 30% to 50%.

6. Rest and Positioning

Rest is essential when you have an infection or virus. However, sinus congestion and pressure can make lying down uncomfortable and interfere with your ability to sleep.

If you’re struggling to rest or sleep well with sinusitis, elevate your head and upper body with pillows or a wedge-shaped cushion. Sleeping in a recliner may also be more comfortable than lying flat.

7. Medications for Sinus Pressure and Congestion

Several types of over-the-counter medicines can help you manage sinusitis symptoms.

Decongestants relieve sinus congestion and pressure. These medications come in liquids, nasal sprays and pills or tablets. Unless your healthcare provider gives other instructions, only use decongestant nasal sprays for three days or less. If you use them longer, they may worsen congestion.

Steroid nasal sprays help ease inflammation and swelling caused by allergies or nasal polyps. You may need to use them for several days or weeks for maximum results.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can relieve minor aches and pains, including sinus headaches.

Antibiotics are only effective in treating sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection and aren’t usually needed. Similarly, antihistamines only help with sinusitis caused by allergies.

If you have high blood pressure or take any medications, or if the medication is for your child, talk with your primary care provider or pharmacist first to ensure the sinus medication you choose is safe to use.


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When to See Your Provider

You’ll likely feel much better in about a week with rest and self-care. Still, some cases of sinusitis need medical treatment.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Fever for more than three days
  • Severe facial pain or headache
  • Stuffiness on only one side of your nose
  • Symptoms lasting 10 days or more without improvement
  • Symptoms that return after feeling better
  • Vision changes
  • Worsening symptoms after seven days

Need help treating sinus pressure and congestion?

Find a Methodist Le Bonheur provider