How to Reduce Puffy Eyes Due to Sinuses

Puffy eyes are a common symptom of sinusitis often blamed on lack of sleep or general illness. In addition to puffy eyes, sinusitis problems may cause a dull ache or feeling of pressure in the eyes or across the middle of the face, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, raspy voice, loss of sense of smell, fever, nasal discharge, bad breath, coughing, sore throat, snoring and fatigue. Most cases of sinusitis are caused by infections, but allergies, exposure to indoor or outdoor air pollutants, excessive indoor dryness from heating and air-conditioning, and structural abnormalities are other possible causes. You can reduce or eliminate most cases of sinus-related puffy eyes at home or with over-the-counter medications, but some cases may require professional care.

Close-up of humidifier. (Image: yocamon/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Run a humidifier in your bedroom during the night to increase the moisture level inside your home. Air-conditioning and dry-air heating systems can cause sinus irritation and dryness, which can potentially increase eye puffiness in the morning.

Step 2

Sleep with the head of your bed elevated to encourage sinus draining and reduce fluid accumulation under your eyes. Sleep propped up on pillows or semi-upright in a chair, or raise the head of your bed by using leg extenders. Sleeping horizontally dilates the veins under the eyes, according to Harvard Medical School, which makes puffy eyes darker and more noticeable.

Step 3

Reduce your intake of alcohol and sodium, as both can cause fluid accumulation beneath the eyes and make eye puffiness caused by sinus congestion worse. Alcohol also interferes with certain antibiotics prescribed to treat sinus infections, making them less effective.

Step 4

Eat a bowl of chicken soup or add some spice to your meals when suffering from sinus congestion and puffy eyes. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that both may have anti-inflammatory effects and encourage drainage of the nasal passages.

Step 5

Make a saltwater nasal irrigation solution by mixing 1 tsp. of salt with 2 cups of lukewarm water. Tilt your head back and use a dropper to administer three drops to each nostril every one to two hours. Allow the solution to sit inside the nostril for about 45 seconds, then return your head to a normal position and allow the solution to drain out. This should loosen nasal congestion and soothe inflamed nasal passages. The National Institutes of Health recommends creating a fresh mixture every day until sinus congestion and puffy eyes clear up.

Step 6

Use a decongestant to help drain your nose and sinus passages. This will reduce fluid build-up and inflammation and alleviate eye puffiness. Decongestants are available over the counter, in pill, liquid and spray form, at most pharmacies and retail stores.

Step 7

Try an antihistamine medication, such as Benadryl, if you believe allergies may be causing your eye puffiness. In addition to reducing allergic symptoms, antihistamines can lessen sinus inflammation and ease eye puffiness.

Step 8

Visit your doctor for a complete examination if your puffy eyes and sinus problems fail to respond to home treatment options. While acute sinusitis and puffy eyes resulting from infection with a virus will typically clear without treatment within days or weeks, chronic sinus problems require medical evaluation.

Step 9

Take antibiotics to treat puffy eyes caused by a bacterial infection in your sinus passages. You may need to take antibiotics for 10 days or longer, depending on the severity of your infection and symptoms.

Step 10

Consider immunotherapy to treat allergic causes of puffy eyes. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may require multiple visits to the doctor before symptoms improve, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Things You'll Need

  • Humidifier

  • Leg extenders for bed

  • Eye dropper

  • Over-the-counter oral or spray decongestant

  • Over-the-counter antihistamine medication


Increasing age often makes puffy eyes worse, as aging causes the skin around the eyes to become looser and thinner than surrounding skin. This allows fluid from the sinus passages to collect and form bags, according to Harvard Medical School.

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