The sinuses are lined with a type of skin called mucous membrane. This membrane protects the body by producing mucus, which catches dirt and other particles that might otherwise cause illness.
The lining of the sinuses can swell if a person has an allergic reaction or infection. Swelling may lead to a feeling of pressure around the nose, cheeks, and above the eyes. These areas of the face may feel painful or tender.
Infections or allergies can lead to uncomfortable pressure in the sinuses. Clearing the nose can help to ease this symptom.
Below are natural alternatives to over-the-counter medications for sinus pressure.
1. Saline nasal spray
Saline nasal sprays are a popular remedy for sinus pressure and can be made at home.
Inhaling saline solution can help to clear a blocked nose.
A saline solution can easily be made at home using sterile water, salt, and baking soda. Combine the following ingredients:
- 1/4 pint of clean water
- 1/4 teaspoon (tsp) of salt
- 1/4 tsp of baking soda
Sniff this into the nose from cupped palms, one nostril at a time.
Alternately, use a clean, dry spray bottle. Gently insert the nozzle into a nostril and spray in the solution. Repeat two to three times per day.
2. Neti pot
Some people use neti pots to rinse out the nose, which helps to keep the mucous membrane moist and relieve pressure in the sinuses. The device looks like a small pot with a long spout. They can be purchased online.
Here is how to use a neti pot:
- wash the hands
- fill the pot with sterile water
- lean directly over a sink
- tilt the head sideways
- gently insert the spout into the highest nostril
- breathe through the mouth
- pour water into the nostril
Water will run from one nostril to the other, which should flush out pollen, bacteria, and other debris. A person should repeat this process on both nostrils.
It is essential to use sterile or distilled water, which can be bought at a drugstore, not tap water. Alternately, boil water and allow it to cool.
3. Steam inhalation
Using steam to open the passages in the nose can help to relieve sinus pressure.
Steam inhalation is easy to do at home. Boil water, pour it into a large bowl and lean over, so the face is directly above the water. Cover the head with a towel, and breathe through the nose.
Massaging pressure points at the base of the skull and top of the neck may help.
Acupressure is a key part of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves applying pressure to specific points in the body, to relieve pain or symptoms of illness. Scientists are not clear on whether acupressure works, but it may ease some symptoms.
Acupressure has long been used to treat colds, types of flu, and sinus problems. It can be done at home or by a professional practitioner.
Be careful not to apply too much pressure, causing pain or discomfort.
Here is how to use acupressure for sinus pressure:
- link the fingers of both hands together, forming the shape of a cup
- use the linked hands to cradle the back of the head, where the neck and skull join
- extend the thumbs and find the dips on either side of the spine
- use the thumbs to massage the area in small circles
- relax, breathing slowly and deeply
- do this for 4 to 5 seconds at a time
Using the fingertips to massage the cheeks and the bridge of the nose may also help to relieve pressure. This massage should be firm, but gentle.
Any time a person is unwell, it is essential to keep the body hydrated.
Keep the mucous membranes in the sinuses moist by drinking plenty of fluids. This helps them to work properly.
Water, fruit juices, and herbal teas are good alternatives to tea and coffee.
6. Warm washcloth compression
Applying heat to the sinus area can also help to relieve pressure. One of the easiest ways to do this is using a warm washcloth.
Run a clean washcloth under reasonably hot water and wring it out. Fold it, and lay it across the bridge of the nose and cheeks for a few minutes.
7. Essential oils
Menthol oil is thought to help open the nasal pasages, although research has not supported this.
Essential oils are natural oils derived from plants. The American Sinus Institute recommend using some essential oils to relieve sinus pressure.
Menthol creates a sensation that the nasal passages are opening.
Add a few drops of the oil to hot water, and gently breathe in the steam through the nose.
There are some anesthetic properties, but no scientific evidence proves that menthol causes the nasal passages to open.
Essential oils, including menthol, are available online. People should be sure to buy these oils from trusted sources, however.
8. Rest and relax
Concentrating on work or studies can be difficult for a person with sinus pressure. Taking a break and getting plenty of rest can help the body to recover.
What is the outlook for sinus pressure?
If caused by an infection, such as sinusitis, the pressure should go away within a few weeks.
If caused by an allergy, sinus pressure may come and go. Taking antihistamines before coming into contact with an allergen, such as grass or pet fur, can prevent sinus pressure.
The natural remedies above can help to relieve sinus pressure and related discomfort. They can also help to speed recovery.
However, home remedies may not always work. If an infection has not gone away within 2 to 3 weeks, people should see a doctor for advice and treatment.