Sinuses produce mucus to keep the insides of your nose moist and to keep allergens and pollutants away.
Sinus problems can be triggered because of allergies, or very often because of anatomical deviations like having narrow sinuses.
And these issues can be a real pain especially when you've got a long day ahead of you.
If you find yourself often waking up with congested nasal passageways or a runny nose, here are nine ways to cope with your easily irritated sinuses to set your day right.
Dry air causes your mucus to become thicker. This results in congestion of your nasal passages where mucus cannot be drained out properly. The humidity in the air has a huge impact on your sinuses. A humidifier provides moist air to effectively soothe dryness, irritation or itch in your sinuses. Try using it overnight to minimise those morning congestions. But remember to clean your humidifier often. You wouldn't want it to end up worsening your condition.
2. Drink water
Drinking enough water keeps the whole body hydrated, and that includes your sinuses. Water will also help to keep your mucus thin for it to flow smoothly. Steer clear of caffeine or alcohol as they may cause dehydration.
3. Hot soupy foods
Hot liquids can help loosen mucus. It will also soothe dryness in your throat. Choose foods that come with thin soup bases like chicken noodle soup as it is said to be able to relieve your blocked nose. It may sound like an old wives' tale but a study from the US published in Chest Journal found that chicken soup may indeed contain anti-inflammatory mechanisms that improve the condition of upper respiratory tract infections. No harm giving it a go to clear your stuffy nose!
4. Get rid of allergens
If your sinus problems are triggered by allergens, it would be wise to take measures to allergy-proof your home. You can start by using bedding with allergen barriers and keeping your pets out of your bedroom. Avoid having rugs and carpets as they trap dust easily. You should also wear a mask when you have to clean dusty areas in your house. If these measures do not suffice, try an air purifier with an allergy filter for a cleaner and more ventilated home.
Practising good hygiene habits may be common sense but it is something many of us often take for granted. Grime and dirt from your hands may travel to your sinuses easily when you touch your face. So remember to wash your hands frequently to protect your sinuses.
6. Take a hot shower
The heat and steam from a hot shower can relieve congestion and sinus pressure. Run a hot shower with the doors closed and inhale the steam. Showering with hot water can also provide some relief for your discomfort. Alternatively, inhaling the steam from a bowl of hot water works too!
7. Hot compress
If the pressure in your sinuses starts giving you a headache, soak a cloth in hot water and place it over your eyes in a reclined position. It can help to warm the nasal passages and ease the pressure.
8. Light exercise
Brisk walking or slow jogs can help to clear your sinuses as it may trigger your passages to open up when you take deep breaths. But it is important to know your limits and stop immediately if it is worsening your condition.
9. Nasal spray
If your sinus issues persist despite all the measures taken, consult a doctor and get a prescription for a nasal spray. There are several types of nasal sprays like a decongestant, which is able to clear your stuffy nose by shrinking the swollen tissues in your nose. Other types include antihistamine and corticosteroid. Your doctor will be able to tell what suits you best.
This article was first published in Shape