Located within and around your nose, your sinuses are a system of air-filled cavities responsible for the production and expulsion of the mucus that traps inhaled dirt, dust and allergens. Lined with tiny little hairs called cilia, your sinuses push excess mucus out your nose or down your throat.
Sometimes, however, the membranes that line the sinuses become inflamed, causing mucus that would otherwise be expelled to build up. Sinus infections are caused by the growth of bacteria in mucus-filled sinus cavities.
Sinus infections can lead to a whole slew of uncomfortable symptoms, including trouble breathing, tooth pain, ear pain and headaches. If left untreated, a sinus infection can have serious consequences; in extreme cases, untreated infections can lead to blindness or even meningitis.
The good news is sinus infections are incredibly easy to treat:
- Sinus Solution #1: Pseudoephedrine is a common ingredient in over-the-counter decongestants. Pseudoephedrine constricts blood vessels and shrinks the inflamed sinus membranes to alleviate sinus pressure and allow collected fluid to drain properly. Be sure to speak to a doctor before taking a decongestant with pseudoephedrine as it is not advised for people with certain pre-existing conditions.
- Sinus Solution #2: Try butterbur capsules. Butterbur is an herb that reduces sinus inflammation by inhibiting chemicals called leukotrienes, which are released during the inflammatory process. Butterbur capsules can be purchased in natural food stores and online.
- Sinus Solution #3: Use a neti pot, a small teapot-like device, to flush dust, dirt, pollen and bacteria-filled mucus from the sinuses via a form of nasal irrigation; this involves pouring a warm saline solution into (and out of) your nostrils. This process reduces excess mucus, allowing the tiny hairs responsible for expelling fluid to function more effectively.