Sinus infections, AKA sinusitis, aren’t just painful. If left untreated, they can spread to the brain and its surrounding tissue putting you at risk for seizures, brain damage, and even death. We’ve got good news, however: There are some things you can do to promote sinus health. Read on for a roundup of six tips aimed at helping you avoid sinus infections, stay healthy, and feel your best.

Wash your hands frequently.

Viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, often lead to sinus infections. Frequent hand washing eliminates germs thereby minimizing the accumulation of infection-causing microbes in the nasal cavity and sinuses. Experts also recommend the flu vaccine as an invaluable initial line of defense against the germs that lead to sinus infections.

Keep nasal passages clear and moist.

The cilia inside the nose do their job best in a moist environment. Enter nasal irrigation. “One of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective ways to prevent and treat sinus problems is nasal irrigation. Using a homemade solution, you can often relieve sinusitis symptoms, reduce reliance on nasal sprays and antibiotics, and improve your quality of life,” proposes Harvard Health Publishing.

For best results, incorporate this practice into your daily hygiene routine. One mantra to remember? “Brush, then flush.”

Other tactics for keeping your nasal passages in good shape? Use saline sprays, drink plenty of water, inhale steam, sleep with your head elevated, blow your nose gently, and use a humidifier or vaporizer.

Avoid irritants.

Certain chemicals, such as perfume, cigarette smoke and pollution, can irritate nasal passages and lead to sinus problems. Limit exposure to these irritants to alleviate symptoms.

Manage your allergies.

Sinusitis can be triggered by allergies. Therefore, it’s important to manage your allergies in order to prevent sinus infections. However, it’s also true that antihistamines can make mucus harder to drain. Depending on your situation, your doctor may or may not recommend antihistamines or other medications to keep your allergies in check.

On a related note, use caution with decongestants. While these can help by shrinking membranes and opening nasal passages in the short-term, they can also lead to dependency. Plus, when the meds wear off, swelling may not only return, but may also worsen.

Consider oral probiotics.

Oral probiotics can help replenish and balance the sinuses’ natural biome. Avoid antibiotics and steroids, however, as these can detrimentally impact the body’s good, natural bacteria while allowing bad bacteria to thrive, according to Baylor College of Medicine associate professor Dr. Mas Yakashima.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The healthier you are, the healthier your sinuses will be. Practice healthy lifestyle habits –such as eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep — to bolster your immune system and keep sinus infections at bay.

One last thing to keep in mind? While these six tips may help prevent acute sinusitis, persistent nasal congestion and recurring sinus problems may indicate the presence of chronic sinusitis and the need for medical intervention, such as balloon sinuplasty. To learn more about how balloon sinuplasty can help you breathe better, book an appointment at San Antonio, Texas’s American Sinus Institute today.

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