You know how uncomfortable sinus and nasal congestion can be, but have you ever wondered exactly what your sinuses are? And where they’re actually located? Understanding more about your sinuses can help you get some much-needed sinus and nasal congestion relief.
The sinuses are a connected system of hollow cavities in your skull. Some sinus cavities may be about an inch across, while others are much smaller. Experts don’t know why we have sinuses but one theory is that they help humidify the air we breathe in. Another theory is that they help decrease the weight of the skull and enhance our voices.
When you’re suffering from sinus congestion and pressure, you probably feel it most in your eyes, forehead and cheeks. That’s because these areas hold your largest sinus capillaries. Your cheekbones hold your maxillary sinuses (which are the largest), your forehead is home to your frontal sinuses, and the area between your eyes contains your ethmoid sinuses. There are also tiny sinuses called sphenoid sinuses located in the bones behind your nose.
Your sinuses are lined with a soft, pink tissue called mucosa. When you’re healthy, your sinuses are empty, besides a thin layer of mucus. However, when you’re suffering from a cold or allergies, your sinuses may become inflamed and produce more mucus to fend off the intruders, whether it’s bacteria or allergens. When you’re suffering from sinus and nasal congestion, you may experience other body side effects such as a headache, ear pain, or neck and shoulder pain.
So, how can you relieve sinus and nasal congestion? Try the following tips:
- Give yourself a sinus relief massage: You can use your fingers to gently massage your sinuses to get nasal congestion relief. For example, place your index fingers on both sides of your nose where the nose and cheek meet (with one finger on each side), and apply moderate pressure for 2 to 3 minutes. You can also use your index fingers to apply pressure on the bridge of your nose, right between your eyebrows; hold for 2 to 3 minutes. This sinus massage will bring comfort to your nasal passages.
- Irrigate your sinuses: Flushing out your sinuses with salt water can help clear out mucus and other irritants (like pollen, dust and bacteria) and reduce inflammation of the mucous membrane, resulting in better drainage. This can be done with a neti pot, syringe or various other products that can be found in drug stores. When using a nasal rinse, be sure to use sterile or previously boiled water, and rinse and dry the device thoroughly after each use.
- Take a decongestant: Over-the-counter nasal decongestants reduce blood flow to the nasal membranes, which decreases swelling and congestion. They can help open up your nasal passages and decrease pressure in your sinuses. For fast relief, try Dayquil SEVERE Cold & Flu—the non-drowsy formula contains a powerful pain reliever and phenylephrine, a safe and effective decongestant. If your sinus congestion is worse at night, try Nyquil Severe Cold & Flu. In addition to a pain reliever and decongestant, it contains an antihistamine to help stop sneezing and a runny nose, so you can get some much-needed rest.
- Try a nasal spray: Sinex™ Severe Nasal Spray helps relieve the sinus and nasal congestion that often accompanies colds, hay fever, or upper respiratory allergies. It is a fast acting nasal spray decongestant that shrinks swollen nasal membranes so you can breathe more freely.