Sinus pressure occurs when the openings of the sinus cavity are blocked, causing mucus to be trapped and accumulate. The accumulated mucus allows negative pressure to build up within the sinus cavity. This pressure build up causes headaches and other painful discomforts around the facial area such as the nose, the eyes, the forehead, and sometimes in the dental cavity.
Pressure in the sinuses is a symptom of an even more serious sinus problem. Sinus pressure is usually associated with many respiratory infections such as flu, colds, and allergy, to name a few. Sinus pressure is a very common condition experienced by many and there are actually many ways on how to relieve sinus pressure, each having its own level of effectiveness and relief.
Sinuses and their Function
There is a misconception with the term sinus. Most people use it to refer to a sinus infection called sinusitis, but in truth, it is actually a part of the facial anatomy and all people have sinuses. Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses get infected and inflamed.
Sinuses, also termed as paranasal sinuses, are cavities or spaces located just above the frontal cranial bones. There are a total of four paired sinus cavities, each having an opening, called the ostium, into the nasal passage.
Each of the sinuses produces mucus whose primary function is to moisten and clean the nasal cavity. They also filter the air coming into the nasal passage. The sinuses allow for a free exchange of air and dirty mucus. When the sinuses are blocked mucus gets trapped within, leading to sinus pressure and nasal congestion. The bacteria present in the trapped mucus can multiply, and could result to a sinus infection. Usually, the solution to relieve sinus pressure is to target the blockage within the sinus cavity to lessen the mucus congestion.
Causes of Sinus Pressure
Under normal condition, a free exchange of mucus and air takes place on the openings of the sinus cavity (ostiums). The mucus have fine-haired cell, the ciliated epitheliums, around its lining, which moves the mucus out of the nasal passages. When the ostiums swell, there is a difficulty in the exchange of mucus and air. As a result, mucus gets trapped within the paranasal sinuses and a vacuum is created within the cavity. The pressure difference between the sinus cavity and the nasal passage can cause intense pain; and this is what people experience as sinus pressure.
Below are some causes of sinus membrane swelling, which results into sinus pressure. The information given below can give a person an idea on ways to relieve sinus pressure or even to prevent it from occurring.
- Bacterial and Fungi Infection – Infection of the sinus can be due to the proliferation of bacteria or fungi within the paranasal sinuses. These microorganisms cause irritation of the sinus membrane, which in turn results into swelling, and consequently to blockage of the nasal passages.
- Allergens – Sinus membrane irritation can also be a result of an allergic reaction. Allergens cause inflammation of the membrane and eventually to sinus pressure. Some of the common allergens include pollen, mold, dust, animal hair, and air pollution.
- Viral Infection – Another cause of sinus membrane swelling is viral infection, of which the common colds and flu are the most common.
Best ways to Relieve Sinus Pressure
There are several ways on how to relieve sinus pressure. From medications, to nasal sprays, to home remedies, these solutions vary on the level of relief they provide.
- Medications – Over-the-counter medicines relieve sinus pressure effectively because they target the root cause of the inflammation.
- Decongestants – Taking decongestants is one effective solution to relieve sinus pressure. It helps reduce the sinus membrane swelling and provides relief on the stuffiness feel when the nasal passages are congested. They may come in the form of nasal sprays or pills. Some of the commonly used are naphazoline, oxymetazoline, and pheynylephrine.
- Allergy Medicines – Antihistamines and other allergy drugs are effective in relieving sinus pressure caused by allergic reactions. They are antihistamines available in the drug store that is formulated with decongestants. This means that aside from giving relief from allergy-initiated sneezing, it also decongest and relieve sinus pressure.
- Humidifying Sinus Cavity – A simple yet effective way on how to relieve sinus pressure is to humidify the paranasal sinuses. Keeping the sinus cavity dry will only further the irritation and inflammation; moistening the accumulated and stocked mucus allow for an easier flow of mucus.
- Salt-Water Irrigation – The best way to clear up sinus congestion is by salt-water irrigation. This is done by inhaling the vapor of the warm salt-water solution placed inside a small tea pot or neti pot. The salt-water vapor helps the thick mucus to thin up and makes the nasal passages moist, eventually decongesting the passages.
- Aromatic Vapors – Another alternative to relieve sinus pressure through humidification is by breathing in aromatic vapors. The aromatic vapor easily opens up the sinuses by inhaling. The usual products include menthol and eucalyptus aromas, though there are some with different components incorporated in them.
- Hot and Cold Compresses – Relieving sinus pressure can be as easy as putting hot towel over the eyes and nose area of the face. Doing so, the nasal passages are warmed and the secretions are loosened. By alternating hot and cold compresses, the pains associated with sinus pressure can be relieved.
- Hydrate the Body – The easiest solution on how to relieve sinus pressure is to keep the body hydrated. This can never be stressed enough. By hydrating the body, the nasal passages are kept moist and hence, allow a steady flow of mucus. Hot beverages, such as chocolate and herbal teas, can even further aid in opening up the swollen sinus membranes. Herbal teas can also act as decongestants.
- Eat Spicy Food – Spicy food, such as chilli peppers, are rich in capsaicin. This substance, according to research, is helpful in relieving pains, especially facial pains. Eating spicy food also opens up the congested nasal passages and offers relief from sinus pressure.
A lot of painful discomforts are associated with sinus pressure and it will only lead a great deal of pain if not taken care of. It is important to keep the sinus cavity healthy to maintain the free exchange of air and mucus. The ways on how to relieve sinus pressure presented above are some of the proven ways to get rid of this problem. Though they offer relief, it is always better to prevent such conditions from happening in the first place. And this can only be done by keeping the immune system healthy.