Sinus Congestion Is The Worst — Here's How To Clear It

Sinus Congestion Got You Down? Here Are Some Tips To Quickly Clear Things Out

Sick woman having video all with doctor during covid-19 pandemic
Luis Alvarez/Getty

We are living in a world that when you make the slightest sniffle you feel like you have to grab your mask and vaccination card so that the person next to you isn’t terrified. It is a sad, but very real, reality right now. So let’s say that you are not COVID positive, thank God, and you just have a cold or sinus infection, good news, or the flu, not as great news, and you want to get those sinuses cleared up. What is the best way?

I am one of those people who would rather barf than have a stuffy nose. The second that any kind of sinus problems rear their head, I am heading for a decongestant. Sure, that will help, but it is going to take some time. Are there things that you can use right away that might make things a bit better, faster? You bet! And we are here to offer you some tips. Here is a couple that you may not have thought of.

Eat A Little Hot Sauce

OK, this might sound nuts as a remedy, but it works. At least as a short-term solution. Trust me, I’ve done it out of desperation. Those peppy peppers may make your mouth burn, but they can also give you some quick relief from that awful stopped up feeling.

Go After Those Pressure Points

This is a Lifehacker, quite literally, but they say it works. “Push your tongue against the top of your mouth and place a finger between your eyebrows and apply pressure. Hold it for about 20 seconds and your sinuses will begin to drain.” 20 seconds to clear your sinuses? I.am.in.

Those are the quick — perhaps more nontraditional — ways to decongest, but are there more tried and true, familiar ways? Yep, and we have those too. Healthline offers some good tips.

Drink Your Water

It seems that this is the answer to most of life’s problems. If you stay hydrated, you will feel better. Period. Drinking water creates more fluid, stay with me, and the more fluid the more drainage. As long as that nose is draining, the sinus pressure will decrease. That’s a win.

Hop In A Nice Hot Shower

When you feel crumby, the hot water on your back can be a great relief. And when you have hot water, you have steam. Steam will open up those nasal passages and help lubricate your sinuses. You can also put hot, not too hot, water on a towel and press it against your face. Think really nice facial. This gives the same effect and can help to clear you up.

Grab Some Saline

It isn’t always the most pleasant thing to sniff something up your nose. But if you’re really congested, won’t you try anything? I know that I will. Saline sprays are another way to hydrate those nasal passages and relive pressure. Some have decongestants in them, so make sure you talk to your doctor, especially if you are taking other meds.

Plug In Your Humidifier  

This has the same type of effect as a hot shower or towel. The moist air gets into your sinuses, lubes things up, and helps you to drain and breathe. This can be really helpful at night when you are trying to sleep and your sinuses fill up with what can be described as nothing short of cement. A humidifier is just a good idea.

Take A Stab At Draining Your Sinuses With A Neti Pot

There are people who positively swear by the benefits of sinus draining with neti pots. So how this works is you stand over the sink with your head titled. Your pour distilled water — this is key — in through one nostril. It will make its way out of that nostril and through to the other, draining out the yuck with it. Try this for a minute on both sides and see how you feel.

Try Some Meds

Sometimes you just need a little bit more to help you feel better. There is nothing wrong with grabbing something over the counter, or from your doctor, to help relive some of the pain, pressure, and congestion.

A decongestant is going to do just that: help you remove that congestion. These can be a spray or a pill. Common decongestants are Afrin and Sudafed. But, beware, only use them for three days max before contacting your doctor. If you stay on a decongestant too long, things could get worse.

An anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (if your body normally tolerates it well) can help decrease the swelling in your sinuses; it won’t clear up congestion, but it will help with congestion-related pain such as a sinus headache.

What if those sinus woes are due to allergies? Is there anything that can help that? You bet! An allergy med can help with an allergic reaction, which can make your sinuses flare, and reduce that nasty swelling and help unclog your nose. These can sometimes be used in conjunction with a decongestant, but check with your doc first. Playing pharmacist could make you super drowsy or have other bad effects. Be sure you are doing things safely.

It seems that no matter how hard you try, congestion just happens sometimes. Whether it is caused by a virus, or an allergy, that congestion can just be miserable. Give these tips a try. You can even mix and match to see what works best for you. But again, before you try meds, talk to your doctor.

Cold and flu season is the worst, but now you have a few things to make it better, or at the very least, more tolerable. And now, as always, we hope you stay safe and well!