What Treatments Offer Relief for Sinus Congestion?

T. Broderick

A variety of treatments offer relief for sinus congestion. Prescription and non-prescription medications are readily available. Also, there are many things one can do at home to clear the sinuses. A combination of medication and home remedies usually works the best. If sinus congestion last for more than two weeks, one most likely has a sinus infection or allergies; seeing a doctor is advised.

Moisture, such as using a humidifier, offers relief from sinus congestion.
Moisture, such as using a humidifier, offers relief from sinus congestion.

Cetirizine is one of the most popular over-the-counter antihistamines available. Antihistamines like cetirizine inhibit the body's response to pollen and other allergens. An individual who suffers from headaches, runny nose and sneezing experiences these symptoms to a much lesser degree if he or she takes a daily dose of an antihistamine. Yet for some, over-the-counter medication does not provide enough relief for sinus congestion.

Inhaling steam vapors will help loosen congestion.
Inhaling steam vapors will help loosen congestion.

Most prescription medications for sinus congestion are corticosteroids. Administered by nasal spray, corticosteroids act as an anti-inflammatory on the sinuses. Simply put, corticosteroids provide relief for sinus congestion through a different route than antihistamines. This difference is important as individuals who cannot find relief for sinus congestion with antihistamines generally show improvement after beginning a course of corticosteroids.

Antihistamines may help relieve sinus congestion.
Antihistamines may help relieve sinus congestion.

Besides medications, many home remedies exist to treat sinus congestion. A rule to remember is that moisture provides relief for sinus congestion. One of the most common methods is using a humidifier in the winter months. If this option is too expensive, breathing through a cloth soaked in hot water provides the same effect, though one might have to do it many times a day. Most importantly, keeping hydrated and avoiding alcohol reduces the likelihood of congestion.

Using a humidifier during the winter months is a common remedy for sinus congestion.
Using a humidifier during the winter months is a common remedy for sinus congestion.

As the causes of sinus congestion are so varied, an individual may have to try a combination of treatments and medication before he or she finds relief. One must remember that it is never safe to mix non-prescription medication and that one must wait 24 hours before switching to a new non-prescription mediation. It is safe, though, to try as many home remedies as one pleases in the course of a day.

Sleeping with the head elevated at night is a common sinus congestion remedy.
Sleeping with the head elevated at night is a common sinus congestion remedy.

If sinus congestion lasts more than two weeks, it is a clear sign that one has either a sinus infection or severe allergies. If a bacterial infection is present, a doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics. Diagnosing a specific allergy requires either a blood or skin prick test. Though many allergies are treatable, a doctor may advise certain lifestyle changes so one has less expose to the irritant.

Corticosteroids in the form of a nasal spray act as an anti-inflammatory on the sinuses.
Corticosteroids in the form of a nasal spray act as an anti-inflammatory on the sinuses.

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Discussion Comments

kylee07drg

My friend's dad showed me one of his natural remedies for sinus congestion while I was sick and spending the night at their house. It really did help me sleep that night.

He boiled some water and put some eucalyptus salve in it. He told me to hang my head over the pot, and he draped a towel over my head to trap in the fumes and moisture.

The warm water and the sinus-opening scent of the eucalyptus really cleared out the congestion. It lasted just long enough for me to fall asleep and stay that way until morning.

Of course, since I had a cold, all I could really do was wait it out. I used his technique to help me get to sleep at night for the rest of the time I was sick, though.

StarJo

If I have congestion for over a month, then I know that I have a sinus infection. I have tried all the sinus congestion remedies that I've ever heard, but if I have an actual infection, none of them will help.

The only thing I can do at that point is get some antibiotics from my doctor. Usually, she will also give me some combination antihistamine/decongestant pills to take for the next month. This helps clear everything out of my system.

I have tried simply taking decongestants on a daily basis before, but after a few weeks, I always get nosebleeds. They just dry my sinuses out too much.

seag47

@OeKc05 – I got sinus congestion relief from a daily antihistamine for the first year after I started taking it, but then, my severe allergies returned. My doctor told me that my body had gotten used to the medication, and we would need to switch things up.

At first, he had me try a different type of antihistamine. It worked for awhile, but then, the same thing happened. That's when he gave me a corticosteroid nasal spray.

It has helped my sinus congestion immensely. It is so nice to finally be able to breathe through my nose! For awhile there, I feared I might never have this simple pleasure again.

OeKc05

I have constant allergies, so I take an antihistamine every day that is supposed to be effective for 24 hours. It has helped me so much, especially during spring, when pollen is everywhere.

Before I started taking it, I would be a mess all day at work. I would sneeze all the time, and I had to keep a box of tissue at my desk for my constantly running nose. My eyes watered as well, making it hard for me to see my work.

Since I have been taking the medicine, I can function normally during this time of the year. I do still have to sneeze and blow my nose a bit more during pollen season, but that is natural. My condition has improved so much, so I'm not complaining.

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