What Helps Sinus Congestion and Pain? Home Remedies & Medications

Medically Reviewed on 4/18/2022
What Helps Sinus Congestion and Pain
Sinus congestion and pain can be relieved at home by keeping your nasal passages moist and taking over-the-counter medications that help reduce inflammation

Sinus congestion and pain can be relieved at home by keeping your nasal passages moist and taking over-the-counter medications that help reduce inflammation.

What home remedies can help relieve sinus congestion?

Keep your nasal passages and sinuses moist by:

  • Using a humidifier or vaporizer
  • Inhaling steam from a hot shower or pot of hot water
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to thin out the mucus
  • Using a saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages from drying out
  • Applying a warm, wet towel to your face to help open up your sinuses
  • Avoiding chlorinated pools
  • Trying a neti pot or nasal irrigator to flush out the sinuses
  • Keeping your head elevated when lying down
  • Avoiding blowing your nose too forcefully, which can force the mucus into your ears or other parts of the sinuses.

What over-the-counter medications can help relieve sinus congestion?

  • Decongestants: Decongestants help reduce the swelling in the nasal passages and ease sinus congestion and pain. They are available as nasal sprays, such as naphazoline, oxymetazoline, or phenylephrine, as well as pills, such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. Do not take decongestants for more than 3-5 days. Avoid giving them to children without consulting a pediatrician.
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines are allergy medications that can help relieve nasal congestion and pressure caused by allergies.
  • Steroid nasal sprays: Steroid nasal sprays can help with allergy stuffiness and relieve inflammation in your nasal passages.
  • Pain relievers: Acetaminophenibuprofen, and naproxen can ease the pain caused by sinus pressure.
  • Medicated ointments: These contain menthol, which can help you breathe better by opening up your airways.

What causes sinus congestion?

Sinus congestion and pain can be caused by many factors. 

When the membranes that line your nasal passages become inflamed and irritated, an excess amount of mucus is secreted to flush out the irritant or allergen, causing the feeling of stuffiness and pressure. Mucus accumulation allows germs to grow and irritate the sinuses further, leading to sinus tissue inflammation.

A virus or cold is the most common cause of sinus congestion, but it can occasionally be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Other causes of sinus congestion include:


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What are symptoms of sinus congestion?

Sinus congestion may cause symptoms such as:

When to see a doctor for sinus congestion

Sinus congestion and pain usually resolves with home remedies or over-the-counter medications within a week.

However, seek medical treatment if you notice the following:

  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Fever that lasts more than 3 days
  • Worsening symptoms
  • Symptoms that persists even after 10 days
  • Frequent sinus issues
  • Swelling or redness of the skin
  • Severe breathing difficulties

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Medically Reviewed on 4/18/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Griffin MR. How to Treat Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-congestion

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Sinus Infection. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/sinus-infection/

Garrison J. 6 Steps to Fight Sinus Problems. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-tips