How to unblock sinuses

How to unblock sinuses

How to unblock sinuses

Your sinuses are a network of small, hollow cavities in the skull that are located around the nose and eyes. Your body’s sinuses can be found through your cheekbones, forehead, between your eyes and between the eyes, and they produce mucus to keep the inside of your nose moist and healthy. The mucus produced by your sinuses usually drains into your nose via nasal passages. However, if your sinuses become blocked, it can feel uncomfortable and even painful, making you feel extremely unwell[1].

But what exactly causes blocked sinuses, and what can you do if it happens to you? To find out more about this condition and tips on how to combat it, keep reading.

What causes blocked sinuses?

In short, your sinuses can become blocked when fluid builds up and becomes trapped, making them feel congested and painful. You may struggle with blocked sinuses when you have a common cold or a flu virus[2]. It’s also possible to experience blocked sinuses if you struggle with allergies[3]

Blocked sinuses can also be a sign of sinusitis – a viral infection which causes inflammation of your sinus lining[1]. Since the mucus produced by your sinuses can no longer move freely, these passages become congested, and you may feel like your nose is completely blocked. You might even feel some pain and pressure in your cheeks, around your eyes and across the forehead.

If you have sinusitis, you might also suffer with some other symptoms too, including a headache, a sore throat, a high temperature, a reduced sense of smell and green or yellow discharge from your nose. You may even develop toothache or halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath. 

That being said, with the spread of COVID-19, you might be especially concerned if you feel unwell and start to experience some of these symptoms. If you have a high temperature, notice a change to your sense of taste or smell, or you develop a new, continuous cough, you should get a test and stay home until you have received your results[4].

How to clear blocked sinuses

If you’re struggling with a cold, the flu or even sinusitis, you should find that you start to feel better within two to three weeks. The good news is, there are a number of ways you can relieve most of your symptoms in the meantime too, such as by taking over-the-counter painkillers, like paracetamol and ibuprofen, trying an effective throat spray to soothe your throat, making sure you drink plenty of fluids and getting lots of rest. 

But what about your blocked sinuses? To help you relieve a stuffy nose, check out these useful tips below.

– Use a decongestant

Decongestants can provide effective, short-term relief for nasal congestion and work by reducing the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose to open up the airways[5]. Decongestants are available as nasal sprays, tablets or capsules, drops, liquids or syrups and even dissolvable flavoured sachets. Most decongestants can be bought from chemists without the need for a prescription from your GP, but it’s important to check with your pharmacist to ensure you’re using one that is right for you.

– Use a saline nasal spray

A saline nasal spray works by increasing the moisture inside your nostrils, helping to thin the mucus in your nasal passages. In turn, this can reduce the inflammation of your blood vessels and empty fluids from your nose. As a result, you should find that it helps relieve any pressure you’ve been experiencing. Some saline sprays also include decongestant medication, so it’s important to always check the label first. 

– Try a warm compress

Using a warm compress is a simple yet effective way of unclogging your sinuses. Soak a small towel, such as a flannel, in clean, warm water, squeeze out any excess, then fold it and place it across your nose and forehead. The warmth of the compress will feel comforting against your skin as it works to relieve your pain. 

– Take an antihistamine

Especially if your blocked sinuses are a result of allergies, you might find that an antihistamine is an effective way of soothing your symptoms[3]. This type of medication can reduce the swelling in your nasal passages, which in turn, can help clear your airways and relieve your discomfort.

If you try some of these remedies but your symptoms don’t go away and you’re still struggling with blocked sinuses, make sure you speak to your GP who may be able to suggest an alternative treatment, such as a course of antibiotics.