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About 13% American adults suffer from sinusitis and related problems, and it is one of the top 10 medical reasons for absence from work in America.

The paranasal cavities or sinuses are spaces present in the cranium, near the nose. These are located below the eyes (maxillary sinuses), beneath the forehead (frontal sinuses), between the eyes (ethmoid sinuses), and in the sphenoid bone (sphenoid sinuses). These sinuses are lined with cells and membranes which secrete mucus that filters out dust and microbes. This mucus is swept by the cilia and drained through the sinus openings. However, microbial infections and exposure to allergens cause the sinuses to become inflamed. This condition is called sinusitis (sinus infection). As the sinus drainage pathways become blocked, mucus gets accumulated, thereby providing an ideal environment for microbes to grow. This causes symptoms like nasal congestion, sinus headache, post nasal drip, etc. These can be best cured by sinus drainage.

Methods of Drainage

One of the methods which is used by health practitioners for draining sinuses or treating sinusitis is the surgical method. Though this method is effective and does not cause any complications, it would be better to try some home remedies first.

Steam Treatment

Steam inhalation is an economic and easy method for getting instant relief from nasal congestion.

Principle: The latent heat of vaporization (from the steam) helps in loosening and thinning the mucus, which is then easily expelled from the nose.

Procedure:
  • Boil water in a large vessel or kettle, and pour it in a bowl.
  • Take a large bath towel and cover your head.
  • Lean over the bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Make sure that no steam escapes.
  • Continue this process for 5 - 7 minutes. If you begin to feel too warm or uncomfortable, and face difficulty in breathing, raise the towel a few inches above to get some fresh air. This will make you feel better.
  • You can also add a few drops of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and rosemary oil to the boiled water for faster relief. This helps in thinning the mucus and draining it out easily.
  • Blow your nose with a tissue paper to expel the mucus.
Precaution: Keep sufficient distance from the boiling water as the steam may burn your skin or create discomfort while breathing. Also, avoid touching the heated kettle or bowl and spilling the boiled water.

Nasal Irrigation

This technique involves irrigating each nostril with saline solution. This aids in washing out the dirt and mucus off the nostrils.

Principle: The saline solution poured in one nostril is made to flow out of the other. This ensures draining of the mucus, allergens, and other encrusted particles out of the nostrils. It can be done using any of the simple devices mentioned below:

Neti Pot: This container uses gravitational force to expel mucus from the nostrils. It has a spout through which the saline water is poured into each nostril.

Procedure:
  • Boil water (16 oz) and add ¾ teaspoon non-iodized salt to it. The proportion is important to match the isotonicity of blood so that our body (nose) can accept it readily.
  • After that, let the solution cool to room temperature.
  • Pour the solution into the neti pot.
  • Stand near a sink, and tilt your head at 45-degree angle so that one of the nostrils points towards the sink. Pour the saline through the nostril facing up.
  • Keep your mouth open and breathe through your mouth.
  • The saline, entering through one nostril, will pass through the nasal cavity and flow out through the other nostril.
  • Gently blow your nose and repeat the process for the other nostril.
Precaution: Make sure the water used for saline preparation is properly sterilized/distilled/boiled to kill any harmful microbes and other organisms like amoeba that may otherwise be present in normal tap water.

Squeeze Bottle System: These bottles are essentially made of plastics that are flexible, and hence can be squeezed. They are designed in a way that the tip fits each nostril, allowing easy flow of saline water into the nostrils. When the bottle is squeezed, the water is sprayed with a greater pressure (than the pressure within the nostril). This forces the water to pass through one nostril and exit through the other. This procedure doesn't require a person to tilt his/her head.

Procedure:
  • Prepare the saline as mentioned above.
  • Pour it in the squeeze bottle and close it tightly so that water doesn't drip from it.
  • Now adjust the tip of the bottle to one nostril and squeeze the bottle gently.
  • This will release the water into the nostril which will come out of the other.
  • Now gently blow your nose to drain the mucus.
  • Repeat the process for the other nostril.
Precaution: Avoid squeezing the bottle too hard as it might release the water with greater pressure. This may cause water to enter the ears, which can put one at a risk for ear infection.

Facial Massage

Another natural way for sinus drainage is by massaging your face. Massaging the sinus pressure points on the face and head can help in relieving chest congestion.

Principle: Stimulating the pressure points by massaging them helps in increasing circulation in the area. This, in turn, helps in relieving the increased pressure. Also, the heat generated due to massaging helps in thinning the mucus for its easy passage.

Procedure:
  • Pull back your hair or wear a band around your hairline. This will prevent your hair from falling on to your face while you massage.
  • Rub few drops of massaging oil or essential oil on your palms.
  • The main pressure points which you have to massage are forehead and the cheeks.
  • With your fingers gently massage these areas in a small circular motion.
  • In the same way, massage the outer edges of the nose, top of the nose (between the eyebrows), and also the sides of the cheekbones.
  • Slide down to your jawbone and continue massaging, moving towards the area around the neck.
  • After massaging, blow your nose gently to drain the mucus.
Precaution: Avoid applying too much pressure on the bones while massaging or you may experience pain long after the massage. If possible, take help from a massage therapist.

Scented Handkerchief

One of the natural ways to relieve clogged sinuses is by inhaling a scented handkerchief.

Principle: The essential or medicated oil used for this purpose have antibacterial properties. Also, they act as a decongestant, loosening the mucus and facilitating its drainage.

Procedure:
  • Put one drop geranium oil, one drop eucalyptus oil, and two drops rosemary oil in a bowl.
  • Take a cotton handkerchief and dip it in the bowl. The oil will spread through the cloth fibers, making the entire handkerchief scented.
  • Take the handkerchief out of the bowl and allow it to dry normally.
  • Then, hold the handkerchief up to your face and inhale deeply.
Precaution: These oils may trigger an asthmatic attack or allergic reactions like excessive sneezing. If you are sensitive to the aroma of such oils, avoid this therapy.

Apart from these home remedies, drinking herbal teas made from herbs like lemon, ginger, Echinacea, mint, etc. will also help ease the discomfort. Some experts also recommend the consumption of horseradish. However, if these do not work for you, consult your medical practitioner who will suggest certain treatment methods to help drain your sinuses completely.

DISCLAIMER - This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.