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Understanding Sinuses & Natural Remedies
Sinus Infections are fairly common and can be caused by allergies as well as by viral infections. One of the most common infections is called sinusitis, which causes the sinuses and nasal passages to become inflamed.
Some of the common symptoms are headache, nasal pressure, stuffy nose, and even fever in some cases. Sinusitis may be acute or chronic and must be treated accordingly. The faster it's treated the better your chances of getting rid of the infection.
This article is dedicated to helping people be proactive and take care of their sinuses through natural remedies—before they develop infections. You will find information on the anatomy of sinuses, infections and symptoms, natural remedies like sinus rinse and massage, how to deal with sinusitis, endoscopic surgery, and much more. So, let's get nosey!
Sinus Anatomy: Paranasal Sinuses
Paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces or pockets within the skull which help decrease the weight of the skull, increase voice resonance, help regulate temperature fluctuations to the eyes and dental roots, to name a few.
Humans have four major sets of sinuses (as shown in the above illustration) with channels from each leading to the nose. The sinus cavities are named based on the name of the bones in the skull:
- Frontal sinuses - located in the forehead above the eyes
- Ethmoid sinuses - located in between the eye sockets
- Sphenoid sinuses - located in the center of the skull behind the nose
- Maxillary sinuses - located under the eyes in the cheek bones
Each of the above has a narrow channel which leads to the nose and has a thin lining called mucous membrane. This lining helps as a defense mechanism and traps foreign particles moving them through the sinuses and out through the nose. Due to allergies and viral infections, the openings and channels can become inflamed and blocked thereby trapping the mucous into the cavities. This could lead to nasal pressure, infection and inflammation called sinusitis.
Sinusitis: Causes, Signs, and Symptoms (Sinus Anatomy)
Sinusitis: Causes, Signs and Symptoms
As discussed earlier, sinusitis can be caused by allergies and viral infections. However, there are many more causes such as the common cold, asthma, stress, pollution in the air, side effects from medication, extreme temperature fluctuations, immune system deficiencies, nasal polyps and many more.
Some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis are headaches, facial pressure and pain especially when bending over, discharge from the nose (thick and yellow/green, for acute; and thin and clear, for chronic), itchy eyes and nose, nasal congestion, cough, loss of smell and taste, and even the chills and fever.
Sinusitis is generally categorized as acute or chronic: temporarily lasting up to 8 weeks is considered acute and if it lasts for over 8 weeks, it is considered chronic. The symptoms for acute and chronic sinusitis are similar, but the symptoms of acute sinusitis are more painful.
Poll: Sinus Infection
Treating Sinusitis Naturally
Sinus congestion and symptoms that can lead to sinusitis can be treated through various means. Treatments range from conservative natural remedies, sinus massages, to over-the-counter medication, antibiotics, corticosteroids and even surgery, in chronic cases. I'm not a fan of OTC medication or prescribed medication mainly because of their adverse side-effects and overall damage to the immune system.
The intention of this article, as mentioned right up front, is to provide natural remedies and solutions for relieving sinusitis symptoms. The natural remedies that will be covered below are: the sinus rinse with the Neti Pot and SinuFlo from NeilMed; Sinus Soothe drops from NativeRemedies; and self massage by Heather Wibbels, LMT.
In the sections below, you will find concise information on each of the above mentioned natural remedies. Please note that the information is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. Please consult your physician for diagnoses and treatment.
Neti Pot Sinus Rinse
Nasal irrigation or rinsing is a simple, yet effective method to flush out excess mucous from the nasal cavities. It's a natural way to clear the sinuses and has been practiced for many years. Nasal irrigation consists of using lukewarm salt water solution which is passed through one nostril and flushed out through the other.
There are several methods of nasal irrigation, but one that I have found very effective is the NasaFlo Neti Pot from NeilMed. I've used it for over 3 years now and find it very effective, convenient and easy to use. The Neti Pot is a small plastic or porcelain pot which comes with pre-mixed packets of pH balanced sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate mixture.
To prepare the nasal rinse: fill the Neti Pot with 8 oz (or 240 ml) of lukewarm previously boiled water; dissolve the pre-mixed rinse packet in the water; and rinse your nasal cavities by following the directions in the video below.
Note: Do the nasal rinse once or twice a day, or as directed by your physician.
Neti Pot Sinus Rinse Kit - Buy Neti Pot at Amazon
SinuFlo Sinus Rinse
NeilMed's SinuFlo rinse system is similar to the Neti Pot except that you have to squeeze the bottle so as to flush the sinuses with the mixture of saline water. Some people prefer the Neti Pot as compared to the SinuFlo. I personally prefer the Neti Pot. To prepare the nasal rinse the process is similar to the Neti Pot: fill the SinuFlo bottle with lukewarm previously boiled water; dissolve the pre-mixed rinse packet in the water; and rinse your sinuses by following the directions in the video below.
Note: Do the nasal rinse once or twice a day, or as directed by your physician.
SinuFlo Sinus Rinse Kit - Buy at Amazon
Relieving Sinuses with a Self-Sinus Massage
A simple self-massage can help relieve symptoms at the first sign of sinus congestion. In the YouTube video below, Heather Wibbels, a licensed Massage Therapist walks us through simple and easy-to-understand self massage techniques which will help in lymphatic drainage and thereby clear sinuses to help breathe easy.
My Experience with Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
In 2008, I developed symptoms of pan-sinusitis—the infection of all four paranasal sinuses, as well as nasal polyps—which caused me major pain and discomfort. I had constant sinus pressure, nasal congestion and sometimes could barely breathe normally resulting in many sleepless nights.
Initially, I tried various over-the-counter (OTC) medication for congestion, but it only brought temporary relief. Since the OTC medication didn't help, I visited my family doctor who, after examining me, put me on course of antibiotics. The antibiotics worked for a little while, but the sinusitis symptoms were back after a month or so.
At this point, my physician put me on a course of stronger antibiotics which worked better than the previous course, but I was back to my physician after a couple of months. Given that the medication was not correcting the sinusitis, my physician recommended I take a CT scan to determine the extent of the nasal blockage.
The findings of my CT scan determined that I had developed pan-sinusitis and polyposis which basically meant that all my nasal cavities were blocked with mucosal thickening and nasal polyps. My physician referred me to a specialist who after studying my CT scan and doing an endoscopic examination confirmed that surgery would be a good option and correct my condition.
I decided to go with the endoscopic sinus surgery which lasted about an hour under general anesthesia. I was in hospital recovery for about two hours and was able to return home the same day. I was recommended to take a week off to recover from the surgery. Refer section below to learn about endoscopic surgery involves.
Overall, the surgery was a success and I felt brand new. I could breathe normally again. For normal maintenance, I do regular nasal rinses using the Neti Pot when I feel nasal congestion and it works really well for me. I would recommend using the Neti Pot at the first signs of nasal congestion so you can avoid going through what I went through. I waited until an infection developed and it was too late to avoid surgery.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is generally recommended to patients when their sinus infections, in most instances chronic cases, show no signs of improvement even after medication has been prescribed after a period of time. Before recommending surgery, the physician reviews the complete medical history to investigate various aspects like the symptoms, duration of the symptoms, medications prescribed, other underlying medical conditions, etc. If the doctor determines that based on the medical history, no further medication will aid in the patient's recovery from sinusitis, a CT scan will be requested.
The CT scan will help with the endoscopic examination to determine the cause of the symptoms and whether surgery will resolve the sinusitis. The video below shows what an endoscopic surgery looks like.
Warning: This video is graphic and may not be suitable for all audiences!
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Video
For More Information
- "Sinus (anatomy)." Wikipedia
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Guestbook: Natural Sinus Relief Remedies - What is your Experience with Sinus Infections & Treatments?
Anthony Godinho (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 01, 2018:
Hi Ramona, yeah, the effectiveness of the Netipot treatment will depend on how severe your sinus condition is. For me, it's the one I've been using post-surgery and it works great. Also, regular exercise and staying active helps a lot. Thanks for stopping by!
Ramona from Arkansas on May 31, 2018:
The saline Neti pot thing doesn't work for me. It made my nose clog up even worse. I tried regular salt and that seemed to work but stings to bad. I showed my friend your page and they tried the Sinuflo. Thanks for your advice.
Fay Favored from USA on March 18, 2016:
Was wondering if the NasaFlo Neti Pot worked. Will share this with my hubby & media of course.
Anthony Godinho (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 22, 2014:
Hi Melody, thanks for sharing your experience with sinus infections and using essential oils to treat the symptoms. I've never tried that and will definitely visit your website to learn more.
Tamara14 on September 16, 2014:
Very good advices, I'm all for the alternative and natural approach. My latest experience was just wonderful with bio energy treatment. Those therapists amaze me (hard to find good ones though). I had a strong reaction to the treatment, like an acute sinusitis for a couple of days and then the symptoms simply vanished. That was over a year ago and I've been great since then. Yoga and breathing axcercises are beneficial also.
Melody on September 12, 2014:
Wow, this is some excellent info! I don't get sinus infections anymore, mostly since using essential oils. They have helped some sinus symptoms I've had before an infection would begin, too. I can definitely see some of your methods discussed above working well in conjunction with EOs. This is a topic I may cover on my blog about using essential oils in healing. If anyone would like to check that out, it's at www.melodyhalverson.com . I hope to find and post some testimonials of people using EOs to help manage sinus issues. :)
Anna from chichester on July 26, 2014:
This sounds awful! I'm glad you got it sorted out :) this lens is really helpful for people suffering with the same condition - great information.
Fay Favored from USA on June 11, 2014:
Glad your surgery worked. This can be so painful. I appreciate the different information on the products.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 17, 2014:
I have an on again off again problem with my sinuses. I have plans to try a new system I saw to see if it will help.
Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on January 23, 2014:
Very useful to me. I have seasonal sinus problems. I was especially grateful to learn about the massagebyheather.com video of self lymphatic drainage massage.
Dancing Cowgirl Design from Texas on August 18, 2013:
Thanks for the great info. I have this problem many days. I will try some of your suggestions. Thanks.
SavioC on July 20, 2013:
Wow. What an indepth study on a problem that affects many people. I am sure this has helped many. For me I have also learnt how great lens are made. Thanks for sharing this with us.
VeseliDan on April 29, 2013:
Thank you for your advice on how to clean sinuses naturally. Sinus infection is a really painful experience.
Maribel Forayo from Philippines on April 24, 2013:
I'll share this to my sister. She always have problems with her sinus. Either too cold or too hot weather triggers her pains.
geosum on April 08, 2013:
Good info. I'll give it a try.
cutethings on February 27, 2013:
I have already heard about Neti Pot Sinus Rinse Kit, but I haven't tried it yet. Maybe I will next winter.
PinkstonePictures from Miami Beach, FL on February 22, 2013:
I get dizzy because of sinus problems. Such a pain, thanks for the tips
CoolFool83 on February 18, 2013:
Awesome natural remedies!
anonymous on February 03, 2013:
Thankfully I don't suffer from sinus infections but I would highly recommend this lens to anyone who does, great job.
katiecolette on January 31, 2013:
Have never heard of Neti Pot Sinus Rinse Kit - looks like it's worth trying.
Senditondown from US on January 29, 2013:
I have heard of these products for natural healing for sinus relief. Appreciate all the info and videos.
Anthony Godinho (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 24, 2013:
@anonymous: Thanks much, Tipi ~ God bless ya!
anonymous on January 20, 2013:
I noticed that the angel dust didn't take in October and returning to bless this sinus relief.
Anthony Godinho (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 10, 2013:
@aesta1: Hope your hubby feels better. He probably needs to see the doctor if he's got a sinus infection. Most of the remedies I use here are as preventative measures. I use the Neti Pot regularly and it helps a lot.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 09, 2013:
My husband got dizzy because of sinus infection so am back here.
anonymous on January 09, 2013:
Great Lens very helpful information, will be trying some of the recommendations
anonymous on January 01, 2013:
I don't get them very often these days but when I do they're no fun. Very informative lens.
Susan R. Davis from Vancouver on December 31, 2012:
I had regular sinus infections 3-4 times every year as a kid. As an adult, they leveled off and now I only get them every so often. Of course, I have a mild one right now for the first time in over a year. Glad for the ideas.
cmadden on December 31, 2012:
Changes in barometric pressure can be uncomfortable, as is the greater amount of pollution in this area as opposed to where we lived a few years back.
anonymous on December 27, 2012:
Sinus Infection can be a nasty thing. My mother used to practice inhalation of chamomile when I was a child. It really helped. Nice lens. I found lots of useful information here.
mrsclaus411 on December 21, 2012:
This lens is a great resource for people with sinus problems. I have some myself too sometimes.
Ruthi on October 25, 2012:
Weather seems to wreak havoc with me, resulting in sinus congestion. I will for sure be trying some of these suggested natural sinus relief remedies. It is good to read that not only your sinus surgery but your healthy lifestyle changes have helped you to breathe easier.
srsddn lm on October 15, 2012:
Very useful information. I liked the natural remedies.
anonymous on October 14, 2012:
This is pure excellent sinus relief and I'm returning to sprinkle a little angel dust, happy breathing to everyone!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 10, 2012:
What a resource for many who have sinus problems - we do have them in our family.
anonymous on October 05, 2012:
This is wonderful information! I live in highly polluted Mumbai and have had an ongoing sinus situation during this Monsoon. Heather's lymphatic drainage massage is just what I need... and more consistency with my neti pot :)
ResearchAddict on September 23, 2012:
What a fascinating lens! I was especially impressed with the self massage video. I tried it and could actually feel it working. Great lens.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on August 16, 2012:
What a very inclusive article on sinus congestion and relief. I have never heard of anyone having sinus polyps before. Glad the surgery worked so very well.
Aster56 on July 13, 2012:
Good lens. I have a neti pot will begin using it.
Doc_Holliday on May 07, 2012:
The best part is that natural remedies have been around for a lot longer than antibiotics
TransplantedSoul on March 29, 2012:
I've a friend that swears by her Neti-pot
miaponzo on March 09, 2012:
I have had my share of sinus infections... in fact, one of them caused me to have what would have been permanent loss of smell... but I cured it with reflexology.. Blessed! :)
Anthony Godinho (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 03, 2012:
@julieannbrady: Wow, that must have been quite a bout given that you were on 2 weeks of antibiotics. I use the netipot regularly during the month and it helps a great deal. Thankfully I've not had any viral infections or flu for the past 3+ years now since I made the shift in healthy living. Hope you feel better soon!
julieannbrady on February 02, 2012:
Gosh, I just came off a round of viral and bacterial infections, with two weeks of antibiotics. My sinus headache was a bit much ... I was thinking the saline washes might help me.
jeremykim2011 on February 01, 2012:
Thank goodness I don't have sinus infection, but this lens is truly informative. :)
anonymous on November 28, 2011:
Natural remedies is very effective for sinus congestion.I used Netipot when i had sinus allergies.It's very helpful.
anonymous on November 24, 2011:
Well done. Very helpful. Will definitely share. Kudos!
katesmart on October 11, 2011:
Excellent lens! I have had chronic sinus problems. I use the sinus rinse already. It works but I am really interested in the massage as I am not always around where I canuse the rinse. Thank you.
kimbesa from USA on September 08, 2011:
I really need this...thanks! It's been raining for several days and my sinuses hurt!
moonlitta on May 19, 2011:
My daughter seems to develop such condition and I'm open to trying anything which is natural and un-aggressive...
Krafick on May 13, 2011:
Very complete lens on how to relieve sinusitis. So many people suffer from. You've done a good job for them.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 09, 2011:
Wow you have included everything. I like the idea of being able to relieve sinus congestion through massage. I would have never thought that was possible.
Anthony Godinho (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 20, 2011:
Glad you found this lens useful. The neti pot has been really effective for me and I use it regularly to rinse my sinuses.
anonymous on April 19, 2011:
A lot of valuable information here. My mother-in-law got me a neti pot after I had bad sinusitis last year. I use it once a month and have had no sinus trouble.
Dee Gallemore on March 04, 2011:
Extremely informative and of course . . . well done! While I have not suffered from sinus infections, I know someone who does and I will refer them to this page.
JanieceTobey on February 20, 2011:
I know someone who's used a neti pot and found it to be quite helpful!
TapIn2U on February 19, 2011:
Reconnection for healing? That's something I have not heard of before. I am always open for new alternatives to healing and wellness and this is something I'd like to know more about. Wonderful lens! Sundae ;-)