Draining Sinuses

Your Guide to Draining Sinuses

Draining sinuses is a must during allergy season.  Even if you are taking a decongestant and an antihistamine, often the very first days of spring are more than your medicines can handle. Your sinuses become blocked, you get that stuffy cold feeling that makes you just want to lay down in bed and sleep it off, and you just don’t feel like you are thinking clearly.  Here are some tips for draining your sinuses and keeping them drained.

Decongestants and Antihistamines

First, you should get yourself a good decongestant.  Even if you have a solid prescription strength antihistamine, a decongestant can help on those days when the combination of pollens and high concentrations was just too much for your normal prescription.  An antihistamine doesn’t really help once you already have a sinus headache since it really doesn’t play a role in draining sinuses—it is purely preventative and for best effect requires a build up of several days in your system.  If you discontinued your antihistamine use during the winter when your sinuses remained relatively quiet, then it is possible that your latest bout took you by surprise.  You usually want to start taking your antihistamine in advance of the first warm days of spring before the combination of new pollens is so intense that many medications are simply not up to the task.

Make sure that your antihistamine works for you and is prescription strength.  Often this means getting a doctor’s prescription.  If you can just get your antihistamine off the shelf without even showing you ID, it is unlikely to have the active ingredients that will really help at the height of pollen season.

Steam Treatments

Once you already have clogged sinuses, getting relief can be more difficult—especially if you can’t get access to a decongestant.  One of the best methods for draining your sinuses without medication is to use steam.  Sometimes it is enough to take a hot shower and let the steam from the shower loosen up the mucus concentrations in your sinuses.  Many showers have massage settings that can also give immediate relief.

A more intense method is to heat water and then breathe in the steam while covering your head with a towel.  This allows the towel to work as a tent that captures the steam.  If you do this, you should be careful not to burn yourself.

Air Treatments

One of the other major causes of sinus discomfort is the very air we breathe.  If you know that you are allergic to pollens, then you should consider not opening the windows and running the air conditioner both in your home and in your car.  This will keep much of the pollen from entering your space.

You should also use a humidifier if you don’t have an air conditioner or if it is simply too expensive to run it all day long.  The humidifier will help to filter much of the air to reduce your reaction.

On the other hand, if the central cause of your allergies is pet dander, then opening your windows may actually be the very best thing for you.  Allowing your house to air out, running the humidifier and vacuuming often with hypoallergenic vacuum bags will help to reduce the causes your sinus discomfort.


Another way to help in draining sinuses is to prevent them from getting clogged in the first place.  As we mentioned above, there are several ways to avoid the causes of your sinus problems.  If you have a friend with cats and you are allergic, you should avoid their homes, for example.


You should also be aware that your diet can affect the level of sinus congestion you experience.  Dairy products are notorious for causing higher levels of congestion and some people are actually allergic to wheat products.

On the other hand, certain additions to your diet, like herbal tea, can help build your immune system and make you body less likely to have extreme reactions to allergens.

In severe cases of sinus discomfort, you should be sure to consult your doctor, as this can sometimes be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.