Even though studies have not been performed to evaluate its benefit, some people find that inhaling steam can be very soothing in the management of acute sinusitis. Studies do show a small benefit when steam is used in this way to treat symptoms of the common cold.
One way to use steam treatment is to fill a bowl with steamy hot water. Then lean over the bowl in a comfortable position, and drape a towel over the bowl and your head to keep the steam in. Relax and breathe in the steam for about 10 minutes at a time. You can repeat this several times a day. Be careful not to scald your face by touching the water. You can also find steam inhalers made for this purpose in stores. You can also try hot packs over your face several times a day.
Some doctors recommend a nasal irrigation device and warm salt solution to wash out your sinuses and nasal passages. Check with your doctor to see if they recommend a particular device. Nasal irrigation is most often used in the management of chronic sinusitis. There is some evidence that it may be helpful and little to suggest that it is harmful. Be sure to use distilled water if advised.
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Alho OP. Viral infections and susceptibility to recurrent sinusitis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2005;5(6):477-481
Chronic rhinosinusitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-rhinosinusitis. Updated August 7, 2016. Accessed August 15, 2017.
Sinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/sinusitis. Accessed August 15, 2017.
Sinusitis overview. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/sinusitis.aspx. Accessed August 15, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 12/2/2020