2008-12-03 / LifeStyles

Effective, low-cost ways to get rid of a stuffy problem - sinusitis

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Home remedies often can reduce problematic sinus symptoms, according to the October issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

Symptoms, including nasal congestion, facial pain, headache and fatigue, are common. Annually, doctors report about 32 million cases of chronic sinusitis — when patients' symptoms last 12 consecutive weeks. Evidence shows that home remedies are an inexpensive, effective first course of treatment. Consider these tips:

Use nasal irrigation or a nasal

spray. Researchers have found that flushing out the nose twice a day with a saltwater (saline) solution can effectively treat and even prevent sinusitis "attacks." (See a demonstration at www.MayoClinic.com. Type "nasal irrigation" in the search box.) Spraying a saline solution into the nasal cavity several times a day also eases congestion.

Steam the sinus cavities. Drape a towel over your head as you breathe in the steam from a bowl of hot water. Hot showers also help.

Apply warm compresses. Place warm, damp towels around your nose, cheeks and eyes for 20 to 30 minutes, two to four times a day to ease facial pain. Place hot water bottles over the towels to keep them warm.

Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids help dilute mucus and promote drainage.

Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol can worsen swelling of the lining of the nose and sinuses.

Don't smoke. And avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

When symptoms persist, consult a physician for other treatment options. Most cases of sinusitis are caused by a viral infection - which doesn't respond to antibiotics. But a secondary bacterial infection is possible. Generally, antibiotics are considered when symptoms worsen or don't improve after 10 days. Other treatment options are corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, decongestants or antihistamines for temporary relief of nasal congestion, or humidifiers or misters to add moisture to the air.

When sinusitis occurs frequently or lasts for more than three months, work with your health care provider to identify possible noninfectious triggers for the condition and treatment options

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