How to Prevent Sinus Congestion
By Nickie Saucedo
Twelve percent of Americans experience sinus infections each year, and that low number may surprise you if you often experience sinus pressure or congestion when you have a cold or the flu. But there’s a key difference between true sinus infections, or sinusitis and noninfectious sinus congestion.
Sinus infections are typically considered to be bacterial infections of the membrane that lines the hollow, air-filled spaces within the skull – the sinuses. However, the common cold can cause similar symptoms, but typically last for 7-10 days; where as a bacterial sinusitis can last for several weeks. Sinus congestion and pressure can also be caused by non-infectious triggers such as allergens.
You can take steps to prevent sinus irritation by making your environment as “sinus-friendly” as possible. Avoiding potential irritants is the first line of defense.
Air pollutants: smoke from cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes as well as strong chemical fumes from household cleaners are considered irritants and can cause inflammation within the lining of the sinuses. If you smoke, there’s no time like the present to quit. Your sinuses will thank you.
Indoor Air Conditioning: It’s great to keep your home cool in the summer or warm in the winter, but HVAC systems can remove moisture from the air, and breathing lots of dry air can irritate the sinuses. To avoid irritation, be sure to get outside for fresh air and to occasionally open up your windows to let the fresh air inside. Using a humidifier will keep the sinuses moist.
Illness: Oftentimes what starts as a simple cold or flu can develop into a sinus infection. Practicing frequent handwashing is the best defense against getting sick. Directly irrigating the sinuses with a saline solution is one of the best practices for keeping your sinuses clean and for anyone who suffers for nasal and sinus congestion. Performing a rinse one to three times daily will help keep the nasal passages clear and keep them from becoming uncomfortably dry which can lead to irritation and inflammation.
Allergic triggers: Whether its pollen or cat dander, keeping your allergies under control will give you a leg up in keeping the sinuses from becoming inflamed. Change air filters regularly to maintain good air quality in your home by trapping potential allergens before they are circulated throughout your living space. Over-the-counter antihistamines are also helpful to treat symptoms for seasonal and indoor allergy sufferers. This medicine works by blocking the chemical histamine which is one of the primary causes in the body of allergy symptoms.
If you do get a sinus infection, talk you your doctor. Your doctor will provide you with the right course of treatment to help fight the infection and symptoms. Some over-the-counter medicines can be used to help relieve your symptoms, but check with your doctor first if you suspect a sinus infection.
The links provided in this article are for educational purposes only. No sponsorship or endorsement is implied. Information was used from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
© Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2018