Flush your nasal passages. “There is a lot of debate about which sinus pain remedies work and what has been proven, but saline spray and washes like the neti pot are indisputable,” says Spencer C. Payne, MD, an associate professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A saline wash thins mucus and helps flush it out of the nasal passages. “Saline washes have been studied and proven to be effective, and should be the first line of defense against sinusitis,” Dr. Payne says. If you have sinus problems, Payne recommends daily use of a saline solution via the neti pot or other device to keep the sinuses moist, and to double up when you are fighting a cold or allergies.
Try bromelain. Sold as a supplement, bromelain is a protein found in pineapple stems. For years, it’s been used by prize fighters to reduce swelling. “Bromelain appears to be beneficial and helps reduce swelling in the nasal passages,” says Robert Graham, MD, MPH, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and assistant professor at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. Just be sure to talk to your doctor first, because bromelain may interact with other medications you’re taking. And be sure to follow exact dosing instructions.
Take a steam. Hot water vapor can help moisten the sinuses. “Sprinkle a few drops of eucalyptus or menthol in the shower and steam up your bathroom,” Dr. Graham suggests. “A hot, steamy shower or bath can also help to loosen up mucus and debris that is stuck inside your nose,” says Sam S. Rizk, MD, a New York City-based ear, nose, and throat doctor and facial plastic surgeon.
Drink up. Staying hydrated helps your body in many ways, including keeping your sinuses moist. Drink water throughout the day, and make sure to steer clear of caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can cause dehydration, Graham says. Although recommended fluid intake differs from person to person, an easy guideline is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. How can you tell if you are getting enough fluids? “If the color of your urine is clear, you are hydrated,” Graham says.