Acute sinusitis, also known as acute rhinosinusitis, is a short-term infection or inflammation of the cavities around your nasal passages (sinuses). This inflammation and swelling obstruct the sinus openings, interfering with normal mucus drainage and causing mucus to build up. This makes it hard to breathe through the nose.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, acute sinusitis is common, affecting more than 37 million Americans each year. The cause of acute sinusitis can be a viral, bacterial or fungal infection and it can last for a few days up to four weeks.
Some people are at a higher risk of suffering from acute sinusitis. Risk factors include allergies like hay fever, a nasal passage abnormality, cystic fibrosis, tooth infection, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a weak immune system and regular exposure to pollutants like cigarette smoke.
Symptoms include nasal congestion, thick mucus discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat, sore throat, cough (which may be worse at night), headache, earache, fever, fatigue, bad breath, and pain and tenderness behind the eyes, nose, cheeks or forehead. It can also lead to reduced sense of smell and taste.
Most cases of acute sinusitis resolve on their own without medicine. However, some home remedies can help relieve your discomfort and promote healing.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for acute sinusitis.
1. Steam Inhalation
The best treatment for acute sinusitis is steam inhalation. Breathing in steam works as a natural expectorant to clear nasal congestion and open up your sinuses. It can also help lubricate the irritated respiratory tract.
- Add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil to a small tub of hot water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam for a few minutes. Repeat a few times a day.
- Also, run a hot shower and breathe in the steam vapors for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this once or twice daily.
Note: Steam inhalation may not be suitable for small children, pregnant women and people who have high blood pressure, heart conditions or central nervous system disorders.
2. Saline Solution
Using a saline solution for nasal irrigation is another effective way to treat acute sinusitis. A saline solution thins the mucus to help flush it out of the nasal passages. It also helps keep your nasal passages moist.
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 2 cups of warm water (use distilled or previously boiled water).
- Fill a neti pot with 1 cup of the solution.
- While standing over a sink, place the tip of the spout into one nostril, tilt your head to the side and allow the water to run out through the other nostril.
- Refill the neti pot and repeat the process with the other nostril.
- Repeat this remedy once or twice daily for a few days.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is another effective home remedy for acute sinusitis. The active component in cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which works as a painkiller and helps reduce nasal congestion.
- Mix 1 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and honey and have it a few times a day.
- Another option is to add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to a cup of hot water. Drink it 3 times a day to loosen up mucus and stimulate secretion.
- You can also use a capsaicin nasal spray, readily available over the counter at pharmacies. Use it as directed.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps thin out mucus, making it easier to drain the congestion. Being rich in several nutrients, it is also good for your immune system.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
- Add 1 teaspoon of raw honey to sweeten the tonic.
- Drink it 3 times a day for a few days.
Garlic is a natural decongestant that helps thin out mucus, making it easier to drain. In addition, garlic has natural antioxidant, antibiotic and immune-boosting properties.
- Add 2 to 3 finely chopped garlic cloves to a pot of boiling water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam of this garlic-infused water for 5 minutes. Repeat a few times a day.
- You can also eat 2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves daily or use garlic in your cooking.
- Alternatively, you can take 250 to 500 milligrams of garlic in supplement form to treat acute sinusitis. Talk with your doctor before using a supplement.
The herb horseradish is also beneficial for relieving acute sinusitis symptoms. It helps dissolve and eliminate excess mucus. Its natural antibiotic property boosts your immune system and promotes quick recovery.
- Grate 1 large horseradish and transfer it to a jar. Add the juice of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of raw honey to it. Seal the jar with set it aside for 24 hours. Eat 1 tablespoon of this mixture a few times daily to promote the flow of mucus.
- Another option is to put a pinch of freshly grated horseradish in your mouth until its flavor becomes bland, then swallow it. Repeat a few times a day.
7. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties. They help cleanse the mucous membranes, thus helping the sinus cavities drain the excessive secretions. Fenugreek seeds also help decrease mucus production.
- Add 2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds to a glass of water.
- Boil the solution until the water level reduces to half.
- Strain, then drink this solution in small sips.
- Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times a day.
Note: Do not take fenugreek seeds during pregnancy as it may stimulate uterine contractions.
8. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil has very potent antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties that can help treat acute sinusitis. It can eliminate the underlying cause of the condition as well as relieve inflammation in the nasal cavities.
- Put a couple of drops of oregano oil under your tongue, 2 times a day.
- Another option is to mix 2 or 3 drops of oregano oil in a glass of water or juice. Drink it once or twice daily.
- You can also boil a pot of water, add a few drops of oregano oil and inhale the steam for 5 minutes. Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
9. Black Seeds
According to Ayurveda, black seeds, also known as kalonji, are useful in treating acute sinusitis. The anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties of black seeds help alleviate inflammation, congestion and other symptoms.
- Put a few drops of black seed oil in a clean handkerchief. Inhale the smell at regular intervals to reduce congestion and promote mucus flow.
- Another option is to mix 1 teaspoon of roasted and crushed black seeds with 1 tablespoon of honey. Eat it 2 or 3 times daily.
According to a 2005 study done in Germany, the use of the proteolytic pineapple enzyme bromelain in children with acute sinusitis showed positive results. Its anti-inflammatory property is effective in reducing swelling in the nasal passages. Readily available in supplement form, bromelain can also speed recovery from acute sinusitis.
- Typical oral doses of bromelain are between 500 and 2,000 mg daily. However, consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
- In addition to taking the supplement, include pineapples in your diet.
- Use a humidifier in rooms where you spend a lot of time to keep the air moist.
- Apply warm compresses to your face to help keep the nasal passages moist.
- Buy a nasal spray with grapefruit seed extract and use it as directed.
- Eat a healthy diet with more emphasis on whole grains, beans, lentils, light soups and cold-pressed oils.
- Avoid mucus-forming foods like refined flour products, eggs, chocolate, fried foods, processed foods, sugar and dairy products.
- Increase your fluid intake to help keep your body hydrated and sinuses moist.
- Avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol, which can be dehydrating.
- Get plenty of rest to help your body fight infection and speed recovery.
- Sleep with your head elevated to promote mucus flow and avoid congestion.
- Avoid cigarette smoke and other air pollutants.
- Acupuncture and acupressure can also provide some relief for acute sinusitis caused by allergies.