The 6 Best Foods to Eat When You Have a Sinus Infection

Ginger is one of the best foods for a sinus infection because of it's antimicrobial properties.
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Headaches, congestion, sinus pressure...whatever your symptoms, sinus issues are unpleasant. Fortunately, there are certain foods for sinus infections that have immune-supporting nutrients to help ease those symptoms.

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Your sinuses are pockets located along your eyes, nose, cheekbones and forehead, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Mucous membranes line these cavities and produce phlegm that filters out incoming bacteria.

Typically, this mucus drains out of your nose. But colds, respiratory infections, allergies, nasal polyps or a deviated septum can cause your nasal passages to become inflamed and swollen, per Harvard Health Publishing. Those blocked sinuses can cause a buildup of bacteria-filled mucus, which can in turn lead to a sinus infection.

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You can typically fight a sinus infection with over-the-counter decongestants, cold and allergy medicines, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet can also help your body cope with illness.

But what exactly should you eat when you have a sinus infection? While food alone can't cure sinus infections, certain ingredients may help relieve some of your symptoms. Below, browse six foods to munch on when you're under the weather, plus which foods to limit or avoid.

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Tip

If your sinus infection symptoms don't improve after 10 days, it's time to visit your doctor, per the Cleveland Clinic. They can help determine if your infection is the result of an underlying condition, and may prescribe antibiotics or nasal sprays.

1. Water

Getting plenty of fluids is a top priority when dealing with a sinus infection, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

For starters, drinking enough water is essential for your overall wellbeing: It helps flush waste from your body, regulate your temperature and keep your tissues and organs functioning properly, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

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When it comes to sinus infections in particular, staying fully hydrated can also help thin mucus and reduce congestion, per the Mayo Clinic. Just make sure to stick to water or other hydrating fluids like herbal tea rather than caffeinated or high-sugar drinks like coffee or soda, per the AAFP.

Hydration needs vary from person to person, so this equation can help you determine how much water you should drink per day:

  • Body weight (in pounds) ​÷ 2 = minimum ounces of water you should drink a day

Is Orange Juice Good for Sinus Infections?

While orange juice can be hydrating, it's best to skip it (and most other juices) when you have a sinus infection because it's often high in added sugars, which can contribute to inflammation in your sinuses and beyond, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

2. Ginger

Ginger is another one of the best foods for a sinus infection, especially if allergies are causing your sinus problems.

In fact, an April 2020 study of 80 people in ​​BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies​ found that taking 500 milligrams of ginger extract every day eased allergy symptoms like congestion and runny nose as effectively as taking 10 milligrams of a drug called loratadine (also known as Claritin).

This may be in part due to ginger's antibacterial properties, according to a July 2014 review in the ​International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology​.

If you don't have ginger extract on hand, try cooking with the herb or brewing ginger tea instead. While eating ginger may not have the same effects as taking extract, which is what the research studied, there is anecdotal evidence that it can help with sinus infection symptoms, per the Cleveland Clinic. Ginger juice (without added sugars) may also be one of the best juices for a sinus infection.

3. Garlic

Another one of the best foods to clear your sinuses? Garlic.

Chopped or crushed garlic releases allicin, a substance that may have antibacterial and antimicrobial effects that fight against viruses, per the American Society for Microbiology.

These antibacterial abilities may help relieve sinus issues, colds and mucus buildup, though more research is needed to better understand how garlic can treat these problems, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

4. Onions

Onions — which are in the same family as garlic — may have similar antibacterial effects, according to December 2019 research in ​Antibiotics​.

The vegetable likewise contains allicin, per the Linus Pauling Institute, which may help treat sinus infection symptoms like congestion.

5. Colorful Fruits and Vegetables

Certain compounds in brightly colored fruits and vegetables — like carotenoids and flavonoids — may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help your body function at its best and may even defend against infection, according to May 2013 research in ​Advances in Nutrition​.

Per Harvard Health Publishing, these anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • Tomates
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens

6. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods may also be good to eat when you have a sinus infection.

That's because capsaicin — the active compound in chili peppers — may help thin your mucus so it drains out of swollen airways more easily, which can relieve non-allergic symptoms like congestion, per a July 2015 review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Is Oatmeal Good for Sinus Infections?

There's no evidence to suggest that oatmeal can effectively relieve sinus infections.

That said, oatmeal is a bland food that may be easier to stomach when you're feeling under the weather. Just be sure to steer clear of processed oatmeals that contain added sugars, which can contribute to inflammation, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Foods to Avoid

While some foods are good to eat when you have a sinus infection, others may not do you any favors.

Here are the foods that are best left out of your sinus infection diet:

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references

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.