Sinus congestion most commonly occurs when the tissue that lines the sinuses becomes inflamed and swollen, blocking off the sinus passages. This can be a result of allergies or infections, such as the common cold. Deep sinus congestion can cause sinus headaches (which center to the front of the head and temples) and can also make it impossible to breathe through your nose. Deep sinus congestion can be treated with over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and surgery.
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Inhale warm moist air. This helps lubricate the sinuses and can reduce the swelling. Inhale steam from a vaporizer or from a pan of boiling water (once the pan has been taken off the heat source). A warm compress made from a washcloth soaked in warm water can also help.
Use decongestant sprays. Decongestant sprays come in small bottles that allow the medication to be squirted directly into your sinuses through your nostrils. These medications typically contain pseudoephedrine and work to shrink swollen sinus tissue.
Take oral decongestants. Oral decongestants work throughout the body, so they may be better at treating congestion deep in the sinuses. However, because this type of medication gets into the bloodstream at higher levels, oral decongestants are more likely to cause side effects, such as agitation and drowsiness.
Take corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are powerful medications that reduce inflammation and may be used to treat patients with deep sinus congestion for which decongestants are ineffective. These prescription medications, however, have serious side effects, including high blood pressure and blood sugar, osteoporosis and changes in vision, and should be used sparingly.
Irrigate your sinuses. Flushing out your sinuses can help lubricate them and thin out the mucus that causes congestion. You can rinse out your deep sinuses using saline solution that comes from a squeezable sinus rinse bottle or by using a neti pot.
Take aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications (which can all be purchased over the counter) are effective at relieving sinus headaches. They can also help relieve deep sinus congestion by reducing inflammation.
Have your sinuses surgically cleared. If the above treatments don't work, your sinus congestion may be a result of abnormalities in your deep sinuses, possibly due to scar tissue buildup. In this case, a surgeon may need to go and remove some of the scar and sinus tissue to clear your sinuses.