Sinus & Allergy

How to Handle Sinus Pressure

written by Becki Andrus

When sinus pain is building, you probably feel that relieving the pressure is a high priority in your day. Sinus issues not only cause pain and discomfort, but they can disrupt your lifestyle and everyday routines.

It’s hard to focus when you are feeling the pressure of sinus pain. Additionally, people find that these symptoms worsen with specific activities, such as leaning forward or physical activity.

Inflammation and Mucus in the Sinuses

This sinus pain is often focused on a specific part of the facial area. You likely feel pressure in the sinus, congestion, and the passageway might be blocked. Sometimes, the affected area is red and tender to the touch.

When these symptoms are occurring, it’s a signal that your sinuses are affected by inflamed tissue and a potential increase in mucus secretion. The sinuses are connected through tubes to the back of the nose. If these tubes aren’t draining normally, then it can cause a buildup of pressure in the sinuses.

Underlying Causes of Sinus Pressure

When you are experiencing sinus pressure and pain, it’s an indication that the membranes within the nasal passages are inflamed and swollen.

The sinuses are open areas located behind your eyebrows, forehead, cheeks, and nose. Typically, these cavities have manageable amounts of mucus moving through to keep the membranes moist. When the sinuses become inflamed, then the passageways can close off and become infected.

Chronic sinusitis is a common cause of sinus pressure. These symptoms can last for weeks or months – with some patients experiencing chronic symptoms for years.

On the other hand, acute sinusitis is a temporary condition that usually clears up within a few weeks. Often, this temporary pressure and pain in the sinuses result from another underlying condition, such as a head cold, sinus infection, or drainage issues in the ears.

It’s also possible for environmental irritants to affect the sinus and nasal passageways. The pressure and pain might be the result of allergies or a response to chemicals in the air.

Treating the Underlying Cause

Even though the inflammation and blockages are the most noticeable symptoms, these issues won’t clear up until you address the underlying causes. Sinusitis might be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. People with weakened immune systems are often at higher risk of developing these infections.

Sinus, nasal, and ear drainage are critical functions that help to minimize the risk of sinus infections. Healthy sinuses drain throughout the day, dripping mucus into the nose or the back of the throat. When these drainage pathways are blocked, then mucus is trapped, and infection risk goes up.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to remove tissue growths that are blocking the sinuses. But, most often, sinus pressure is connected with temporary buildup in the ears.

When the sinuses are affected by any condition, it often results in ear congestion. You might notice that the early symptoms of the common cold include a runny nose and congestion, which often leads to ear pain and blockages.

The most effective solution to find relief is to address the buildup in the ears AND the sinus concerns. This comprehensive approach helps the sinuses to drain more effectively and the draining passageways to remain open to prevent future issues.

Ear Buildup: Treatment Options to Help Your Sinuses

Patients who experience chronic sinus pressure and pain can benefit by talking to an ENT about treatments for ear congestion. This congestion can be caused by fluid buildup, earwax buildup, or inflammation.

Common treatments to clear ear buildup include ear drops containing hydrogen peroxide or alcohol can help to dry out the ear passages. If a buildup of wax is present, then the treatment might require a few more steps:

  • Softening the Wax: Your ENT might recommend treatments to soften the wax. Ear drops can be used for a few days before the doctor removes the wax. Often, the drops are sufficient to soften the wax so it moves out of the ear by itself.
  • Flushing: Once the wax is softened, then it might float out with gentle rinsing. During the appointment, the doctor will use a syringe to flush out the ears carefully.
  • Scooping: Another method is for the doctor to carefully scoop out the earwax using small spoons, known as “curettes.”

Your doctor might recommend these treatments if the ear buildup is causing sinus pressure, experiencing an earache, or hearing is affected.

Never attempt to dig out earwax buildup on your own! Inserting a cotton swab, tweezers, or hairpin into the ear could push the wax in farther. Plus, these attempts can cause severe damage to the eardrum and ear canal.

Your doctor might recommend medications to treat an infection. Bacterial infections often respond well to antibiotics, while fungal infections require different types of antifungal drugs.

Full-Service Treatments for Sinus Pressure

It’s important to understand how much the sinuses, nasal passageways, throat, and ears are connected. When you are experiencing pressure in the sinuses, then a multi-faceted treatment might be needed to help you find relief. Focusing on the sinuses alone won’t be sufficient.

Your ENT can recommend various home remedies and medical treatments that get to the root cause of your sinus pressure. Opening the nasal passageways and ear tubes are critical steps to creating relief in the sinuses.

In addition to earwax removal as discussed above, other treatments for sinus pressure relief might include:

  • Nasal rinses, using a saline spray, Neti pot, or bulb syringe
  • Nasal spray (corticosteroids)
  • Decongestants
  • Pain relief medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Using a vaporizer or humidifier
  • Steam inhalation (taking long showers)
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to thin the mucus
  • Placing a warm, wet cloth on the face
  • Propping up with pillows while sleeping
  • Prescription medications

If these minimally-invasive treatments aren’t sufficient for relieving your sinus pressure, then the doctor might talk to you about other treatment options. Sometimes, surgery is required to open the sinus passageways or improve drainage in the ears and nose.

Local ENT Services

Our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat provides quality services for patients in and around the Dallas and Collin County area. Not only do we offer treatments for sinus pressure relief and ear wax removal, but our specialists are prepared to help with other conditions relating to your upper respiratory system.

We offer a full-service approach, starting with a diagnosis before moving onto your personalized treatment plan.

For more information, you can start by scheduling an exam at a nearby location. We provide ENT offices in both Frisco and Plano, TX. Request an appointment through our online form, or call to talk to someone in the office: (972) 596-4005.

Our clients' stories

We find our patients’ experiences the most rewarding part of the job. Without them, we wouldn’t be one of the longest standing ENT practices in the area!

“We consulted Dr Tseng based on our pediatrician's recommendation. He's so great a doctor who took time to explain us everything and genuinely guided us in the right direction. He's such a caring, genuine and knowledgeable doctor. Oh how I wish there were more like him! ”

Hetal U. user icon

“I have used Collin Co. ENT and Dr. Kenny Carter for over 3 years, primarily for ear problems. The staff has been consistently helpful and friendly to me. When I have had problems needing immediate attention and explained the need, have been able to get an appointment within a reasonable time to address the problem. I recommend Dr. Carter and his staff.”

Stan B. user icon

“Dr. Matheny performed 2 surgeries on my wife, both were successful with great results. He is not only a great surgeon, but a great person. It was a pleasure working with him. One of the best doctors we have ever seen in our lives.”

Mehrdad M. user icon
Make an appointment