Running Nose? or Nasal Congestion? – Homely advice for Sinus Infection

The hollow air-filled cavities in the skull and between facial bones and are directly connected to the nasal passage, are called sinuses. We humans have four of them. One each:

  • in Forehead
  • Behind Cheeks
  • Between the Eyes
  • Behind the Nose

Sinuses help in humidifying inhaled air, filtering it, protecting the face by acting as buffers, decreasing overall weight of the skull, and allowing for voice resonance.

What are Sinus Infections? – Types and Causes

1. Infection of the sinuses is medically termed as sinusitis. In the layman term it is referred as “sinus infection”.

2. It can be caused by virus, bacteria or even fungus.

3. Allergens like pollens from the environment tend to irritate the sinus passages, thereby leading to allergies and sinusitis.

4. Sinus infections are further triggered from excess dehydration or dryness, wherein the mucous within gets dried up; dryness can be from a disease or from certain medications as well.

5. The small hair like structures present in the sinuses and nasal passages (called ‘cilia’) can get irritated from smoke and allergens, causing insufficient mucous production, and hence, sinus infections.

6. Certain tumors or polyps along the nasal passage (the sinuses) can also lead to sinusitis.

Sinusitis can be of various types based on duration and type of inflammation. Following is the general


  • Acute Sinusitis – lasts around 1 week or maybe even lesser.
  • Subacute Sinusitis – lasts anytime between 1-3 months.
  • Chronic Sinusitis – lasts more than three months. Incomplete treatment of the above two can lead to chronic sinusitis conditions.
  • Recurrent Sinusitis – appears repeatedly at regular intervals of a year or so.
  • Infectious Sinusitis – mostly caused by viruses, and less frequently by bacteria or fungi.
  • Non-infectious Sinusitis – caused by allergens and other irritants.

Either of infectious, or non-infectious sinusitis can lead to chronic sinus infection if left untreated.

General Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

Nasal congestion, Runny nose, Headache, Pain in the sinus regions e.g., back of the eyes, ear and nose, Fever from inflammation of the sinuses, Sore throat, Pain in and around the jaws, Cough, Tenderness and/or swelling of the face, Repressed olfactory senses and Occasional sneezing.

Most of these symptoms are very similar to common cold, due to which people tend to confuse whether it is a sinus infection or just a cold. But if the facial tenderness and constant pain are predominant, then precautions need to be taken to treat sinusitis. Generally the pain in the facial regions tends to increase while bending or even lying down. That’s the catch to differentiate between an acute sinusistis and a common cold.

At an early stage, that is, acute sinusitis is considered self treatable.

1. Draining or flushing out nasal passages – Prepare a saline solution by dissolving some amount of sea salt preferably, in filtered water. Stand near the basin and tilt head to one side, and pour in the solution into one nostril. The solution will flow out of the other nostril, cleansing the nasal passage of irritants, thinning the mucous and flushing it out. Repeat it with the other nostril.

This process helps in treating congestion and relieving pain associated with sinusitis.

2. Herbal Tea – Home Remedies

With Black Pepper – Tea concoted with pepper leaves help in treating sinus infections, owing to their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You just need to boil a few pepper leaves and drink it twice a day. If pepper leaves are not available, brew some black tea with black peppercorns. Alongwith regreshing aroma of the tea, the anti-inflammatory effects of the black pepper are more prevalent on the aching head and congested nose.

With pungent spices like clove & cinnamon – Brew regular black tea with spices like clove, cinnamon and even black peppercorns and consume. The steam and fragrance from the tea soothes congestions and headaches, while the spices help in treating sinusitis. Note howevr, if the spices together are too much for you, then alternate with each kind everytime you have tea.

With Basil leaves and Ginger – Both basil leaves and ginger is known to have amazing anti-inflammatory properties, that help treat congestion and respiratory problems. Just cut a small slice of ginger and add it to boling water while preparing tea. Also add 2-3 basil leaves and brew the tea as usual.

With Turmeric and Ginger – Brew your usual hot tea with a slice of turmeric and ginger. This strong beverage with combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginger and turmeric, helps in instantly relieving nasal congestion by loosening mucous and relax sinus pressure.

3. Herbal Tea with Spices and Herbs – Boil some water with ginger, 2-3 basil leaves, cinnamon, black peppercorns and one bay leaf (optional), 1-2 cloves and one teaspoon of honey. Pour in a cup and inhale the steam from the hot beverage. Consume it gradually. This recipe is traditionally used across homes in South Asia and is extremely potent in treating sinusitis-related symptoms, and the infection itself.

4. Steam Therapy – Boil water in a large bowl. Take it off the oven, bend head over it, drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam. This procedure is widely practiced all across the world and also recommended by doctors. You can also add few drops of essential oils or even leaves of eucalyptus and rosemary in the water while boiling it. This makes the released steam even more potent to treat sinusitis. A different version of this can be prepared with sliced onions and garlic pods in boiling water.

5. Chicken Soup – It has been observed that chicken soup makes for a quicker way to clear congestion and get the mucous moving. Vegetarians too can have the benefits of a vegetable soup in a similar manner.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar – Add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar along with one teaspoon of honey in boiling water. This concoction is as effective to remove acute sinusitis in a span of three days!

7. Horse Radish – Cut a small slice of horse radish, and keep it beneath your tongue for a few minutes. Swallow once the aroma has mowed down. The sulfur content of horse radish leads to its antibiotic properties, thus making it an effective anti-congestion agent.

Please consult a doctor if symptoms still persists.