The Raleigh-Durham area frequently makes headlines as one of the best places to live in the U.S. However, it’s not all a bed of roses — chronic sinusitis and seasonal allergy problems are some of the unfortunate byproducts of Carolina living.
The good news is there are several home remedies, such as nasal irrigation, that can relieve sinus pressure and help eliminate sinusitis symptoms.
What causes sinusitis?
Sinusitis (or a sinus infection) is typically caused by a virus. When the sinuses are irritated, they swell, trapping fluid within the sinus cavity. This creates a perfect breeding ground for germs. Symptoms typically include:
- Poor sense of smell
- Facial pain or pressure
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip
These infections may be caused by seasonal allergies, fungus, airborne pollutants, or even problems within the structure of the nose itself.
How does nasal irrigation help your sinuses?
Nasal irrigation helps relieve sinus congestion. It reduces inflammation, which is one of the main causes of blocked sinuses. These blocked sinuses allow mucus build up that creates a perfect environment for bacteria and viruses to flourish. By clearing the sinuses of mucus, they can drain properly, providing relief. In addition, nasal irrigations can also help remove small allergens that contribute to sinusitis symptoms.
There are a few important things to consider when using a saline canister or neti pot to rinse your sinuses:
- Be sure to follow directions that came with the product.
- If you decide to make your own saline rinse, be sure to use sterile water. Failure to do so could introduce harmful bacteria into your nasal passages.
- If you use a neti pot, be sure to clean it with sterile, contaminant-free water.
- Do NOT use tap water for any nasal irrigation unless you have some way of sterilizing it.
- Replace your equipment. Just like you should replace your toothbrush periodically, you should likewise replace your nasal irrigation equipment.
Using irrigation methods such as a neti pot can be frustrating at first. Be patient. It takes practice. Any of our internal medicine physicians will be glad to help.
Remember: No antibiotics unless absolutely necessary!
There’s one more important aspect to treating sinusitis or other nasal problems. Most of these are caused by viruses, which have to “run their course.” If you are reasonably healthy, your body does a great job of fighting these viruses on its own.
Antibiotics should only be used for an infection, and only your Raleigh sinus doctor can accurately determine whether you have a bacterial infection or a virus. Overuse of antibiotics can create bacteria that are resistant to treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year, two million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Of those two million, at least 23,000 people die.
- Irrigate your nasal passages utilizing the information in this article
- Drink lots of water
- Get plenty of rest
- Apply a warm compress to your face
- Use a humidifier
- Breathe vapor from a bowl of hot water
- Take a hot shower
- Help your sinuses drain by sleeping with your head elevated
Our Raleigh and Cary internal medicine physicians are always available to answer any questions you may have. Ask us about sinus relief, including which nasal irrigation system is the right choice for you.