Acute sinusitis, also called acute rhinosinusitis, is a common disease and affects around 1 in 8 adults per year. A stuffy nose and pressure on your cheekbones, headache, pain, pressure, or tenderness behind your eyes, nose, cheeks, or forehead may mean that you have acute sinusitis (1).
Acute sinusitis is a short-term inflammation of the membranes that line your nose and surrounding sinuses. It causes the cavities around your nasal passages (sinuses) to become inflamed and swollen. This impedes your ability to drain mucus from your nose and causes mucus to build up.
Acute sinusitis is mostly caused by the common cold or flu. Unless a bacterial infection develops, most cases resolve within 5 to 10 days.
In most cases, home remedies are all that’s needed to treat acute sinusitis. However, long lasting and persistent acute sinusitis may cause serious complications.
Hereby, I want to share with you some effective tips and home remedies what helped me heal from acute sinusitis. These really did work for me. However, these suggestions might not work for everybody, so before you start any home treatment, consult your doctor first.
What Causes Acute Sinusitis?
Acute sinusitis is usually triggered by the common cold, but there can be other reasons that may cause disease as well. Illnesses and conditions that may cause or lead to acute sinusitis include:
- An infected tooth. In rare cases, bacteria can spread from the infected tooth to the sinuses.
- Cystic fibrosis, an inherited genetic disease where thick, sticky mucus builds up in the body
- Deviated nasal septum
- Infected adenoids
- Intranasal allergies, such as hay fever
- Nasal polyps or other tumors
- Weak immune system (1, 2, 3, 4).
Who’s at Risk for Acute Sinusitis?
You may be at increased risk of getting acute sinusitis if you have:
- A medical condition such as cystic fibrosis or an immune system disorder such as HIV/AIDS
- A nasal passage abnormality, such as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps or tumors
- A weakened immune system
- Activities that result in pressure changes, such as flying and scuba diving
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hay fever or another allergic condition that affects your sinuses
- Intranasal allergies
- Large or inflamed adenoids
- Nasal passage abnormalities, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyp
- Spending a lot of time in a daycare, preschool, school, workplace, public transportation or other areas where infectious germs are frequently present
- Tobacco smoking or frequent breathing in of other pollutants (1, 2, 3, 4)
Sometimes acute sinusitis does not go away and becomes chronic sinusitis which can last more than 8 weeks. In very unusual cases, acute infectious sinusitis may cause an infection that expands to your ears, eyes, or bones. It could also cause meningitis. That’s why it is very important to treat your cold or flu properly.
Call instantly your doctor if you have a serious headache that doesn’t respond to medication, a high fever or vision changes. These may be signs that the acute infection has spread outside your sinuses (1).
Acute sinusitis complications are uncommon. If they occur, they might include:
- Chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis may be a flare-up of a long-term problem known as chronic sinusitis which lasts longer than 12 weeks.
- Ear infection.
- Meningitis. This infection causes inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
- Other infections. Infection can spread to the bones (osteomyelitis) or skin (cellulitis).
- Partial or complete loss of sense of smell. Nasal obstruction and inflammation of the nerve for smell (olfactory nerve) can cause temporary or permanent loss of smell.
- Vision problems. If infection spreads to your eye socket, it can cause reduced vision or even blindness (1, 2, 3, 4).
What Are The Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis?
Symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
- Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Cough, which might be worse at night
- Chest Discomfort
- Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish mucus discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage)
- Ear pressure
- Extreme Exhaustion
- Nasal congestion or obstruction, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
- Pain, tenderness, swelling and pressure around (or behind) your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead that worsens when bending over
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
- Sore throat
- Toothache (1, 2, 3, 4)
How is Acute Sinusitis Treated?
There are several ways to treat cold, flu and acute sinusitis. The treatment depends of the cause and seriousness on the illness. Occasionally also intranasal allergies are thought to be linked to the cycle of acute sinusitis.
If this is the case, allergy medicines could help you relieve allergic sinusitis more easily. However, according to some people, also acupuncture may provide some relief in case of acute sinusitis which is caused by allergies.
Your doctor may suggest antibiotic treatment in case he or she suspects you might have acute bacterial sinusitis. And it might be the only and best way for treatment, as there are conditions where only antibiotics may help. At the same time, it is not wise to carry out this destructive treatment too lightly for every cold or flu. Why?
Firstly, antibiotic resistance is now quite frequent, which means the illness no longer responds to antibiotic treatment. Secondly, this bacterium destroys all bacteria in your body – also the good ones who can help fight the disease. But during the sickness, when your body requires good bacteria the most, it is not wise to eliminate them.
In my personal experience, it is possible to get rid of acute sinusitis without antibiotics. So, if for some reason you have chosen to avoid antibiotics, you can try my method (1, 2, 3, 4). However, my personal method may not be helpful for everybody, so if you do not see any changes during the first two days of home treatment, consult your doctor immediately.
It is never too late to start the treatment below. However, I caution that the healing of your body is a full-time job that requires your full dedication and consistency. And if you don’t notice any changes in your condition – even the small ones (because the healing takes place with tiny and initially unnoticeable steps until one day you are healthy) by the fourth or fifth day, then you should definitely consult your doctor. Because I can’t guarantee that this treatment will work well every time and for everyone.
The recipe for self-healing is like a recipe in a cookbook. Even if you have followed the advice and quantity carefully and somebody else succeeded, your result might still not be the same.
Home Treatment For The Common Cold and Acute Sinusitis – 1 to 7 Days
1. Balancing Gut Flora with Probiotics
As soon as I suspected that the cold or flu had become acute sinusitis, instead of taking antibiotics, I started taking probiotics. For a simple reason. If my body was already so ill, then there obviously were not enough good bacteria to protect me. So, I needed to boost my immune system, and get those good soldiers back as quickly as possible. You can read more about The 40 Health Benefits of Probiotics.
2. OTC Pain Relievers Like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
A person who has suffered from acute sinusite knows that those headaches are torment. So, in addition to the analgesic effect, Ibumetin also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Ask your doctor for advice before taking the medicine and see if it is contraindicated for you. It must not be taken on an empty stomach, but only after a meal.
According to my experience, it was sufficient to take 3 tablets (Ibumetin (400 mg)) for about 3-4 hours in the first three days.
- On the day 4 – 2 tablets,
- the day 5 – 1 tablet
- and on the day 5 – 0,5 tablet.
Ibumetin will only be administered if you are sure that you have acute sinusitis. Common cold usually does not require pain killers.
Obviously, my body also had inadequate reserves of vitamins C and D, and during the illness the body needs these vitamins in greater quantities than otherwise. So I took a total of 4000 mg of vitamin C a day for the first three days, and reduced my dose by 500 mg each day in the next days until 500 mg a day, which is usually also the suggested daily dose. It should also be mentioned that taking such high dosages is arguable and is not always considered right.
However, vitamins were a mandatory part of my home treatment. If you don’t want to eat them so much, you can take the suggested dosage on label, or little more than usual. Studies constantly demonstrate that smokers have lower plasma and leukocyte vitamin C levels than nonsmokers. For this reason, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded that smokers need 35 mg more vitamin C per day than nonsmokers. Therefore, smokers can certainly take a little higher dosage of vitamin C. (5)
4. Minerals and Nutrients from Broth
To overcome the disease, one of the most important factors is boosting the body’s immunity and providing minerals and other nutrients. Otherwise, your body simply has no power to fight viruses and inflammation.
So I cooked myself a large amount of great broth which lasted for a few days (because it includes about 3-4 hours of cooking, and I did not had time and energy to do that every day). My broth recipe includes chicken legs with bones, ginger, onion, carrots, garlic, and chilly. Eating fresh salads may work also, but food in processed form is easier for the body to absorb nutrients and during the illness you don’t want to burden your body that much.
If you do not have the time or the energy to cook the soup and grate a carrot or cabbage salad, some necessary minerals are also available also in the jar. However, a bowl of good warm broth is beneficial and nourishing for you anyway.
5. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is thought to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties (10). So, I wanted to give it a try. Depending on the manufacturer, there are different recommended doses on the label. I followed my common sense here, and took a few drops more than the recommended amount on the first three days with water or juice.
I did it because on the package label are prophylactic doses that you should take to avoid becoming ill. But I already was ill, so in my opinion, I needed to replenish the stock for quick recovery. In the next few days, I followed the instructions on the medicine package.
My healing experience is based on the following doses: 45 drops in diluted form on the first three days (Product name “Citro Life”) and 30 drops on the following days.
6. Natural Antiviral and Antibacterial Herbs Such as Garlic and Onion
Onion and garlic may have natural antibiotic and antibacterial effects (6, 7). If your stomach can deal with it, you can also cut raw onions (thin slices) into the same soup or broth mentioned above, and a few smaller garlic cloves per bowl just before eating like I did. In my experience,1 raw (medium-sized) onion and 3 cloves of garlic hidden in various foods (I added a few slices also to my sandwich) during the day made a miracle happen.
One more thing I do with garlic when my child has a stuffy nose and he finds it hard to sleep, is that I crush some garlic cloves and add these near to his bed. It seems that garlic vapors help him breathe better.
Ideally, just as many of these natural antibiotics may be beneficial to eat daily. You can also cut a few slices of the raw onions and add them to your sandwich. However, monitor how your stomach reacts to the raw garlic and onion, because it might be too strong for some and may cause stomach problems. In this case, consult your doctor first.
7. Saltwater Washes (Nasal Saline Lavage or Irrigation)
I rinsed my nose with self made salt water about 3 times a day, at least every first three days (four times as needed) after every 3-4 hours. Further days – I reduced rinsing times.
For me, this is the only way to get the mucus out of the cheekbones in the case of inflammation. In case any nasal rinsing, you should certainly know how to do it right and without sufficient knowledge, I do not suggest you to test it.
If you still want to try, you should first definitely find out how to make a suitable saline solution and how the process works, as you may hurt yourself if you do it wrong.
8. Ginger, Lemon and Honey
Ginger is thought to possess an anti-inflammatory effect (8). So, I drank at least one big cup of ginger tea every day. I did the ginger tea by pouring the boiled water on the finely grated ginger root and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Before drinking, I let it cool down a bit and then added a few lemon slices and honey. Ideally, and if I have energy to treat myself more, I drink one big cup of ginger tea and another cup of hibiscus tea a day during the sickness.
Do not forget that lemon and honey should be added only after the tea has cooled a bit. You can also eat pure honey a few teaspoons a day. To me personally, the more – the better.
9. Cabbage Leaves
This may be a bit of unbelievable and may also look silly, but, according to my personal experience, it seemed to work when I placed cabbage leaves on my painful cheekbones and forehead. The cabbage leaf should not be very cold. So I warmed it up a little before with my hands. If you want to try this method, you can also hammer the cabbage leaf gently with the meat hammer, so it is softer.
I put a little honey on the cheeks so that the cabbage leaf stayed there better and kept it until the cabbage leaf was already dry and withered. This type of cabbage leaves compression can be repeated several times a day until you feel you no longer need it.
Cabbage leaves are thought to possess anti-inflammatory effects (9).
10. Stay Hydrated
Fluids help to thin mucus so it will come out more easily.
11. Natural Face Cream for Painful Nose Skin
During the runny nose, the nose tends to flush around and be tender, so it makes it painful to snuff. If the skin is already severely affected, then I use the Bepanthen ointment, as it may relieve it.
But to prevent redness, soreness and broken skin around the nose, I lubricated my skin as often as I could with fragrance free cream. According to my experience, the most natural and handmade cream MyMim.Me Mousse was the best. Now I use it daily, as it seems to be extremely moisturizing and helps me fight aging.
12. Other Relief Methods
Here are some other commonly suggested treatment methods for cold, flu and acute sinusitis. I did not use any of these, but you might find some of the suggestions below to be helpful.
- A humidifier. This can help keep the air moist, so it is easier to breathe.
- Saline nasal sprays. Using these several times a day may help to rinse and clear your nasal passages.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) nasal corticosteroid spray. Sprays such as fluticasone propionate (Flonase) may reduce intranasal and sinus inflammation.
- Sleep with your head elevated. This encourages your sinuses to drain (1, 2, 3, 4).
The treatment above is a combination of conventional medicine, natural remedies, and cold mind. Where all the puzzles are carefully put together so your body will be stronger at any given moment. It is not a scientifically proven method of treatment – but has been successful in my personal case. According to my experience, if this treatment works also for you, the first signs of healing should signal on the third day and you should be completely healed within about seven days.
Since you have greatly boosted your immunity and restored your body’s own medical skills, you can be sure that the next virus will not beat you up so badly anymore.
However, if you feel that you do not have enough energy or possibilities to follow everything carefully, or, the first signs of healing do not appear fast enough, I suggest you consider other treatment options, including first consulting your doctor as you might need antibiotic therapy.
NB! The information provided here is for informational purposes only, so do not consider it as health care or medical diagnosis and treatment. Do not consider this information as a guarantee of the results you want to achieve. In addition, this information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional.
Even more, you should not use it to diagnose or treat a health problem. Before changing or discontinuing your existing medication, treatment, or care, or taking any dietary supplements, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional or doctor before starting any diet or program, or if you suspect you may have a medical condition.
Stay healthy & be healed!
Written by: Maria-Helena Loik
Pictures: Pixabay.com, Pexels.com, Shutterstock.com