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7 Home Remedies for Sinus Headache Relief

Sinus headaches can create painful pressure, but these home remedies can help fight the pain.

What causes sinus headaches?

Sinus headaches are a misunderstood type of headache. You may have sinus pressure, which can be from a sinus infection, or from migraines, but there’s no true “sinus headache.”

“You really have to have a sinus infection, which would include nasal discharge and fever, to have a true sinus headache,” says Susan Rubin, MD, neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem. Sometimes, however, people think they have a sinus headache, but their sinuses are actually clear, Dr. Rubin explains. Most of those cases are actually migraines or tension headaches unrelated to your sinuses. Sinus pressure from a sinus infection, on the other hand, could cause pain similar to a headache. So if you do have a true sinus headache, treatment includes managing symptoms of sinusitis, as well as pain and pressure relief. You can try one or more of the following home remedies.

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Sinus headache home remedy: neti pot

If you have a sinus infection, you can use a neti pot to clear nasal congestion, says Dr. Rubin. By cleaning the nasal passages using distilled water and salt, mucus can drain more effectively. Using a neti pot can be tricky at first, but with patience and practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Make sure you clean it as directed and use boiled water if possible. (Check out these neti pot safety tips before you use one.) Here’s what else to do if you wake up with a headache.

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Sinus headache home remedy: saline spray

If a neti pot proves too tricky, a simple saline spray can also clear out the nasal passages to give you sinus headache relief. According to the University of Michigan, saline solution helps the cilia, the tiny hairs found in the nostrils, move mucus and allergens out of the nose. Once you know how to get rid of a sinus headache, check out these 5 sinus infection symptoms you should watch out for in the future.

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Sinus headache home remedy: warm compresses

Another way to reduce sinus pressure pain is to apply warm compresses to the face, says the CDC. This will warm the nasal passages and break up any blockage. If you can tolerate it, applying an ice pack may also provide relief. Here are 12 more home remedies for a stuffy nose.

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Sinus headache home remedy: steamy shower

Standing in a steamy shower and breathing deeply will also open up the nasal passages and allow for drainage and lead to sinus headache relief. Breathing warm, moist air can expand and soothe the sinus cavity, per the CDC. It’s a great remedy for first thing in the morning when you’re hopping in the shower anyway.

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Sinus headache home remedy: humidifier

Dry air does nothing to help your situation. Add steam while you sleep by running a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom, which may help lessen congestion pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic. While you’re relaxing for the night, be sure to add an extra pillow: sleeping with your head elevated can help prevent clogged sinuses, say experts at the Mayo Clinic. Watch out for these other 13 surprising things that cause headaches.

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Sinus headache home remedy: spicy food

Have you ever gotten a runny nose after a particularly zesty meal? It’s not an expert-backed remedy, but eating something spicy (that you enjoy) might make your nose run. You can try using this to your advantage during a sinus headache, but for best results, try the other remedies (like nasal irrigation) as well. (Don’t miss these 11 ways to stop a headache before it starts.)

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Sinus headache home remedy: over-the-counter medication

Sinus infections are often misdiagnosed, says Dr. Rubin. Misdiagnosis is dangerous, it may mean that you take antibiotics when you don’t need them. For that reason, it makes sense to first treat what you think may be a sinus headache with over-the-counter medication. An anti-inflammatory drug, like an NSAID (ibuprofen is one example) may be best for dampening pain, according to Harvard Medical School. Other OTC medications such as Afrin could help clear up nasal passages and sinuses during colds and sinus infections. Make sure to follow the instructions and take anything as directed since there are some hidden dangers of taking OTCs.

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Medically reviewed by Renata Chalfin, MD, on February 12, 2020