Blocked Sinuses? Here’s How to Unclog Them

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Revised on July 27th, 2022

Allergies are annoying but added sinus trouble can make breathing frustrating. When you have allergies, your sinuses become irritated and swollen, which blocks mucus from draining and leads to congestion. (You can read more on why this happens here.) The result is pressure, or that uncomfortable feeling of fullness in your head, along with sinus pain and headache.

Conventional decongestants are often used to treat sinus headaches and stuffiness, but they come with some risks. They can only be used for short periods because your body may become dependent on them. Overuse can also lead to a condition called rebound congestion. This happens when your sinuses swell more to overcompensate from the dryness and restricted blood flow brought on by these medications, making you feel even worse than before.

For minor sinus symptoms during allergy season, there are plenty of home remedies to help unblock a stuffy nose in a snap. The best part is that these methods rely on items you may already have on hand.

Nasal Irrigation

This tried-and-true technique from ancient Ayurvedic practice uses a teapot-like device called a neti pot and saline water to flush out mucus. Make sure you only use sterile, distilled, or boiled water (which has cooled to a safe temperature) for rinsing as tap water can harbor bacteria and microorganisms that are unsafe for mucous membranes in your nose. You can also find pre-made sterile saline rinses in squeeze bottles and aerosol sprays that are easy to use on the go.

Steam Inhalation

Warm, moist air from a shower or hot mug of tea has an instant soothing effect on inflamed, clogged sinuses. Here’s a recipe for herbal sinus steam you can prepare with fresh or dried herbs you might have in your garden or pantry. Steam combined with these healing herbal vapors will bring added comfort to your nasal passages.

Natural Food Decongestants

Food is a panacea for so many health problems, and the same is true for nasal congestion. Fresh pineapple contains two enzymes — papain and bromelain — that can temporarily alleviate swelling and thin out thick nasal secretions. Similarly, certain spicy condiments like raw garlic, mustard, and horseradish contain a compound called allyl that can stimulate your sinuses to improve draining. For instant relief, chew a small piece of fresh horseradish root. Hold it in your mouth until the flavor subsides, then swallow.

Homeopathy and Supplements

Homeopathy offers a low-risk solution for painful sinus symptoms. SinusCalm (formerly known as Sinusalia) is a multi-symptom homeopathic medicine specifically designed to target sinus pain and pressure caused by colds or allergies.* The meltaway tablets are easy to take and offer non-drowsy relief for everyone ages 6 and up. This non-habit forming medicine can safely be used with other medications and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a popular dietary supplement for congestion. It’s made from amino acids that work like antioxidants in the body and is said to help reduce the thickness and volume of nasal secretions (along with a host of other benefits).

Sinus Massage

All you need is your hands for a quick sinus and facial massage to get nasal passages flowing freely again. Focus on pressure points on your face located between your eyebrows, the bridge of your nose, and the area next to your nostrils and cheek. Gently place your fingertips there and hold for a few minutes, or use small, circular motions to massage the area. The warmth and pressure of your hands helps improve circulation and promote drainage along the tender, painful sinuses cavities located throughout your face.

We have even more tips and tricks for those suffering from allergies. You can read more about how to reduce triggers by improving air quality at home, and discover more homeopathic options that can help stop allergy symptoms at their source.

*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

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Comments (9)

Breaking Down Mucus Myths | Boiron USAsays:

[…] with a stuffy nose? Check out these tips to help you breathe better or follow this recipe for a comforting herbal sinus […]

Maryann ottavianosays:

Cure for sinus infection with headache slight dizziness and clogged ears. Help need remedy


Hi Maryann, SinusCalm can help with symptomatic relief of nasal congestion, sinus pain and pressure, and headache due to the common cold or allergies. Hope you feel better soon.


I am suffering with chronic sinusitis i.e. watering nose, sneezing after wakeup from sleep and wheezing sound from throat. Symptoms will be very strong whenever I take alcohol. Please advise.


Hi Bangari, for relief of general sinus issues, we recommend SinusCalm, which contains several active ingredients to address a runny or stuffy nose and postnatal drip. But to understand what’s triggering your sinus problems and get an individualized treatment plan, you should connect with a homeopathic practitioner. Visit the National Center for Homeopathy website to find one in your area.


Sinus infection in ears, very plugged like swimmers ear. Is a alcohol drop for swi.mers ear good to do? I have tried it a few days and no relief. Also take Sudafed for allergies. Saline nasal spray . What relieves the ear pressure?


Hi Kathy! For an ear infection, we recommend consulting with a health professional. Thanks!

Amy Van Buskirksays:



Hi Amy, we have recommendations for ear congestion on the Boiron Medcine Finder App. Click here to view.

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