Ear, Nose & Throat

Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure

written by Becki Andrus
How To Treat Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure

Sinus pressure and nasal congestion are not only uncomfortable, but these symptoms can lead to bigger complications when left untreated.

Whether you are dealing with an acute head cold, sinus infection, or chronic sinus issues, you need to know the most effective strategies for clearing the sinuses. A few at-home remedies might do the trick to help you find relief. Or, it might be time to call an ear, nose, and throat specialist for diagnosis and professional treatment.

Causes of Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure

There are many underlying causes that can contribute to sinus symptoms. It’s important to understand these underlying causes so you can treat the root issue that is resulting in your sinus pressure and nasal congestion.

  • Head cold
  • Flu
  • Allergies
  • Chronic sinusitis

With all these conditions, the membranes in the nasal passages become irritated and inflamed. As a result, mucus production increases because the body is trying to flush out the irritant, such as a virus or allergen.

Remember that many sinus congestion remedies can provide immediate results, regardless of the underlying cause. Not only should you treat the immediate symptoms, but it’s just as important to get to the underlying cause to eliminate the recurrence of symptoms in the future.

How Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure Are Linked

Often, the symptoms of nasal congestion and sinus pressure go hand-in-hand. For example, if you have a sinus infection, then you are likely experiencing both congestion and pressure.

The truth is that congestion usually comes first. As the sinuses become blocked and congested, the pressure builds. You might notice the pressure the most when you lean over or put your head down.

So, if you want to relieve sinus pressure, the best solution is to reduce nasal congestion. Treating the congestion helps to alleviate all of the related symptoms.

Home Treatments for Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure

Home treatments might be sufficient to open your sinuses and help you feel better when the symptoms are mild or moderate. Consider these options to alleviate your congestion and sinus pressure.

  • Humidifier: Turn on a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to the air (which moisturizes your nasal passages).
  • Hot Shower: Take a long bath or shower and breathe in the steam.
  • Steamy Bowl of Water: Fill a bowl with steamy warm water (not scalding hot water) and breathe in. Drape a towel over your head to capture the steam in a small tent while breathing. Add a drop or two of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil to the water.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids is beneficial to prevent sinus blockages by thinning out your mucus. It can also reduce nasal drainage from irritating your throat and causing soreness.
  • Saline Nose Spray: Spray saline in the nose to prevent the sinuses from drying out.
  • Nasal Rinse: Try a nasal rinse, such as a bulb syringe, nasal irrigator, or neti pot. Only use water that has been boiled and cooled or sterile, distilled water. Make sure to clean the irrigation device well after each use.
  • Warm Washcloth: Try opening the sinuses by using a wet, warm washcloth. Place the cloth over your sinuses to open the passages and relieve your symptoms.
  • Prop Your Head: When you lay down at night, add an extra pillow or two so your head is propped up while you are sleeping. Elevating your head can make it more comfortable to breathe at night.
  • OTC Medications: Over-the-counter medications can be helpful for immediate relief of nasal congestion symptoms. For example, decongestants reduce stuffiness and membrane swelling. Antihistamines are helpful if allergies are the underlying cause. Steroid nasal sprays can also be used for a short period of time to reduce symptoms.

Also, remember to be careful about how you blow your nose. The best solution is to use gentle pressure to avoid pushing the mucus into other parts of your sinuses or ears.

When to Talk to an ENT About Sinus Congestion

How do you know when to book a consultation with a professional ear, nose, and throat doctor? Here are a few signs that you will benefit from an ENT consultation.

  • Timeline: When the symptoms last longer than 7 – 10 days, then it means that you might be dealing with a chronic condition. Most common colds and viral infections will clear up on their own within about a week.
  • Fever: If you have a high fever accompanying the sinus symptoms, it could be an indication that you should see a doctor.
  • Discharge Color: Pay attention to the color of discharge coming from your nose. Green or yellow could indicate an underlying infection that needs to be treated.
  • Breathing: If breathing is difficult, always seek medical attention immediately.

ENT Medical Treatments for Nasal Congestion

When you meet with an ENT, the first priority is to diagnose your condition and determine the underlying cause. The doctor wants to not only help with immediate relief but also to reduce the symptoms in the future. Therefore, getting to the root of your sinus issues is the best solution for long-term results.

A variety of treatments are available in our office. We always customize the treatment plan based on the unique needs of each patient.

  • Prescription Medication: Sometimes, medications are necessary to relieve nasal congestion. Options might include nasal steroids, nasal decongestants, or nasal antihistamines. If the congestion occurs because of an underlying bacterial sinus infection, antibiotics might be necessary.
  • Surgical Interventions: If physical issues contribute to nasal congestion, then an outpatient or in-office surgical treatment might be recommended (such as fixing a deviated septum or removing nasal polyps). These treatments are only considered when minimally invasive treatments do not produce the desired results.

A combination of home remedies and medications is often the perfect solution for clearing nasal congestion. When the congestion is gone, then it also helps to relieve sinus pressure at the same time.

Schedule a Consultation with an ENT

If you are experiencing congestion and pressure in your sinuses, it might be time to reach out to an expert for diagnosis and treatment. You don’t have to suffer from these symptoms!

We invite you to speak with our team of experienced ENTs. We help patients in both Collin County and Dallas. At Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, we are a family-focused practice where people of all ages can access quality medical services. Choose from our convenient offices located in Frisco or Plano, TX. Complete the online form when you are ready to book an appointment, or call: (972) 596-4005.

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