10 Ways to Quickly Ease Your Sinus Pain

Sinus pain can range in severity from a mild headache to excruciating head and face pain, toothaches, and earaches. Regardless of the underlying cause, sinus pain usually develops as the result of inflammation in the sinus cavities. Along with inflammation comes congestion. Congestion is a major contributor to sinus pain so many treatments are aimed at reducing congestion. Here are ten tips for quickly reducing sinus pain.

A neti pot on a table
Jessica Boone / Getty Images 

Take a Decongestant

Over-the-counter nasal decongestants such as Afrin (oxymetazoline), or oral medications like pseudoephedrine work well for easing sinus pain. However, unless recommended by a doctor, steroid-based decongestants should not be used longer than 3 consecutive days to avoid a condition called rebound congestion.

Try an OTC Pain Medication

Tylenol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen, and Aleve (naproxen) may be effective for treating sinus pain. Aspirin can be used in adults but should not be given to children due to the risk of Reye syndrome. Some of these pain medications can be combined if one of them is not effective (when used alone). You should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before trying this, however, and let them know of any other medications you are taking.

Use a Neti Pot

A neti pot is used to irrigate the nasal passageways and can help to control congestion and nasal secretions.

Use a Warm Compress

Use a warm rag or heating pad over your sinuses to ease the pain. Do this several times per day.

Use a Saline Nasal Spray

Saline nasal sprays are sold over-the-counter at most drug stores. They are used to loosen nasal secretions and thereby decrease congestion. They can be used many times per day.

Sleep With a Cool Mist Humidifier Next to Your Bed

The humidity loosens nasal secretions and the cold air can help to decrease inflammation. If you do not have access to a cool-mist humidifier, several hot, steamy showers per day can also help to loosen nasal secretions.

Treat Allergies

Allergies are a major culprit of both chronic and acute sinusitis and sinus pain.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids to thin nasal secretions.

Avoid Chemicals

Avoid chemicals that might increase your symptoms such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, or paint fumes.


Relax in a dark quiet room. Gentle head and neck exercises, or gently massaging your head and face may also help.

See a Doctor

If your symptoms do not improve see a doctor. You may have a case of sinusitis which requires a course of antibiotics to cure or another condition that requires medical intervention.

It should be noted that a condition called sinus barotrauma can cause intense sinus pain and pressure that gets worse when you are diving, flying in an airplane, driving up a steep mountain, or participating in other activities that involve steep altitude changes. Although the pain will usually subside when these activities are discontinued, sinus barotrauma is a sign of an underlying sinus problem that needs to be evaluated by an otolaryngologist, a doctor that specializes in conditions of the ear, nose, and throat. Sinus barotrauma can also be accompanied by ear barotrauma which can cause a ruptured eardrum.

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Additional Reading
  • Medscape. Diving Medicine: A Review of Current Evidence.

  • Pubmed Health. Sinusitis.

  • University of Maryland Medical Center. Sinus headache.