9 TLC Tips for Your Nose and Sinuses

  • young adult blowing nose with force outside in snowy conditions
    Take care of your nose and sinuses, so they can take care of you.
    It only takes a stuffy nose to realize how much we depend on our nose. There are few things worse than trying to sleep only to have postnasal drip make you cough, or a blocked nose that forces you to breathe through your mouth. Even worse is a sinus infection that also brings pressure in your face around your nose and forehead, along with fatigue. Fortunately, you can take some preventive steps to keep your nose and sinuses healthy during cold season and beyond. Try these tips to give your nasal passages some extra TLC.

  • table top humidifier at home
    1. Run a humidifier or vaporizer to moisten your nasal passages.
    Your nose filters, moistens and warms the air you breathe. If your mucous membranes (the tissue inside your nostrils) get dry, they are not as effective in filtering out germs. If the membranes develop cracks, your nose may bleed. Ideal indoor humidity is between 30 and 50%, and humidifiers add moisture into the air that can keep your nasal passages moist and healthy. Humidifiers can be central, like central air conditioning, or portable. Vaporizers are inexpensive options that can be moved from room to room. If using a portable vaporizer, ensure it is secure and safely installed, and cannot be knocked or pulled over.

  • adult woman using neti pot
    2. Use a sinus or nasal wash.
    Sinus or nasal washes also can help moisturize your nasal passages, slow a runny nose, or unblock a stuffy one. Moisturizing the mucus membranes with a wash may also reduce nosebleeds. If you try a sinus or nasal wash, be sure to follow your device’s instructions carefully, including what kind of water to use and how to clean your device. Lean over your sink to allow the water to flow out easily. Place the bottle snugly against one nostril and squeeze until the solution drains out of the other nostril. Try not to sniff or to swallow the water. Repeat on the other side.

  • Woman changing water container of dehumidifier at home due to dampness in apartment
    3. Use a dehumidifier to take moisture out of the air.
    If your air is too moist, this can cause problems with your nose and sinuses too. Too much humidity can cause allergy or asthma flare-ups and increase nasal and sinus congestion. Dehumidifiers do the opposite of humidifiers by reducing moisture in the air. Central and window-mounted air conditioners also provide dehumidification and some portable air conditioning units have a dehumidifier-only setting.

  • comfortable woman sleeping in bed in brightly lit room
    4. Sleep with your head elevated if you’re prone to sinusitis.
    You can help your sinuses by sleeping with your head elevated. If you don’t like to sleep with a bunch of pillows under your head, you can put blocks under the head of your bed to lift the head end by a few inches. This allows you to sleep in a more natural position but still with your head higher than the rest of your body. If you are prone to developing inflamed or blocked sinuses, sleeping with your head up allows mucus to drain, rather than pooling in the sinuses.

  • man-using-nasal-spray
    5. Treat postnasal drip with an OTC nasal spray
    If you have postnasal drip and can feel the liquid running down the back of your throat, what can you do? Start by ensuring you are well hydrated, which can help thin the mucus, making it less irritating. An OTC nasal spray can also thin the mucus. If you have allergies, short-term use of nasal antihistamine or decongestant sprays may also slow or stop the drip.  However, be careful not to overuse these sprays, as you can build up a tolerance that actually worsens symptoms.

  • father putting ointment on young son's nose or face
    6. Apply saline gel to a nose that bleeds easily.
    Nosebleeds that aren’t caused by a trauma are spontaneous bleeds. If you’ve tried adding humidity to the air and you still have spontaneous nose bleeds, try applying some saline gel inside your nose to increase moisture. If you get frequent nosebleeds, speak with your doctor who may recommend medical treatment to lessen how often they occur.

  • adolescent girl with eyes closed has towel on her forehead to relief sinus pressure, headache or fever
    7. Apply a warm cloth to your face.
    If you’re prone to getting inflamed sinuses, called sinusitis, applying a warm cloth on your face may help drain the sinuses along with OTC sprays and medications. Just lie on your back and place the warm cloth over the upper part of your face. Allow yourself to relax as the heat penetrates.

  • setting-air-conditioning-temperature
    8. Remove allergens from your living environment.
    If airborne allergies make you stuffed up or trigger a bout of sneezing, prevention can be your first treatment step. If you’re allergic to dust, try limiting the number of knick knacks and objects in your home that can collect dust. If you have outdoor allergies, like hay fever, investing in an air conditioner will help keep the allergens out of your home. If you’re not sure what your allergy triggers are, ask your doctor about allergy testing so you can identify and avoid these allergens.

  • boy-blowing-nose-in-classroom
    9. Don’t put objects or your finger in your nose.
    No matter how stuffed or itchy your nose feels, don’t put anything in there. Any object, including fingernails, can scratch the delicate mucus membranes, opening a route for infection or causing a nosebleed. If you feel perpetually stuffed up, speak to your doctor who may refer you to an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. If you need to blow your nose, blow gently, not hard, particularly if you recently had a nosebleed, because blowing your nose could cause the blood clots to break off and your nose may start bleeding again.

Sinus Care | 9 TLC Tips for Your Nose and Sinuses

About The Author

Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, has been writing health information for the past 20 years. She has extensive experience writing about health issues like sepsis, cancer, mental health issues, and women’s health. She is also author of the book Just the Right Dose: Your Smart Guide to Prescription Medications and How to Take Them Safely.
  1. Using The Sinus Rinse Kit Technique. National Jewish Health. https://www.nationaljewish.org/treatment-programs/medications/asthma-medications/alternative/sinus-rinse
  2. Humidifiers: Air moisture eases skin, breathing symptoms. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/humidifiers/art-20048021
  3. Runny Nose: Care and Treatment. Mayo Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17660-runny-nose/care-and-treatment
  4. Post-nasal Drip. ENT health; American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/post-nasal-drip/
  5. Nosebleeds. ENT health; American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/nosebleeds/
  6. Treatments for post-nasal drip. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/treatments-for-post-nasal-drip
  7. What to do about sinusitis. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/what_to_do_about_sinusitis

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Nov 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.