The itching, sneezing, and runny nose associated with seasonal allergies can be difficult to deal with; but when nasal congestion becomes severe enough, the discomfort of sinus pressure may be more than an inconvenience.
“Your sinuses are supposed to be open cavities,” Dr. Tania Elliott, a certified allergist, told Yahoo Life. “But what happens is that if your nasal cavity doesn’t drain properly, then fluid starts to build up in your sinuses.”
Sinus pressure can cause severe facial pain and, if left untreated, even a sinus infection. So what is a poor allergy sufferer to do?
Dr. Elliott shares some of her sinusitis relief tips to help you breathe easier this spring allergy season.
1: Dilute the slime
If the mucus blocking the sinuses is too thick, it can be difficult to get rid of a stuffy nose. So the first thing you want to do is thin the mucus so it’s easier to drain.
“When you come into contact with something and you develop an allergy, the mucus becomes … thicker,” Elliott explained. “So you want to thin it out so it doesn’t get stuck and cause congestion, and you can actually blow your nose.”
Placing a warm compress on your forehead and nose can help relieve some sinus pressure by reducing swelling.
Adding moisture to the air by inhaling steam from a hot shower is another way to get mucus moving. Elliott said one simple home remedy she recommends to her patients is to boil a pot of water, put a towel over their head, and inhale the steam. You can also add essential oils like eucalyptus, fresh ginger, or “something very spicy” to the water before inhaling.
“Or, if you’re trying to ditch the pot of hot water and just want something spicy, believe it or not, it’ll thin the mucus and make it run out of your nose,” she added.
2: Rinse off irritants
Allergies are abnormal responses of the immune system to normal things happening in the environment — like pollen, grass, or mold — that cause all those symptoms you know and hate, like increased mucus production. To prevent your nasal and sinus problems from continuing and getting worse, Dr. Elliott recommends removing any allergens that may be stuck in your nasal passages.
“Think about when you get dirt or something on your hands, you go to rinse your hands. Well, you need to do the same with the inside of your nose,” Elliott says.
She recommends a nasal saline flush — via a nasal saline spray, or using a neti jug filled with saline and distilled sterile water — to flush irritants out of the nose.
“You don’t have to do a clean water bottle every day, but if your symptoms are really severe, I recommend doing it morning and night,” Elliott said. “Or, just grab a simple nasal saline spray and put it in your nasal passages throughout the day.”
3: Prevention and knowledge are key
With allergy season upon us, you’ll want to take precautions to avoid allergy triggers and keep your sinus symptoms from getting out of hand. Elliott says something as simple as wearing a hat, sunglasses or even a COVID-19 mask can go a long way in providing a barrier between you and allergens outdoors. Precautions like taking off your shoes at the door can also prevent you from bringing pollen into your home.
If all this stuffiness still puts you off, cheer up, seasonal allergy sufferer; Elliott says to remember it won’t last forever.
“The good news about seasonal allergies is that they are seasonal,” she said.
“Remember, you can take some medications every day to control your allergies.