Should You Use Heat or Cold for a Sinus Infection?

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A sinus infection occurs when the cavities around your nasal passages become inflamed and swollen, and mucus builds up within your sinus cavities. The result is often severe facial pain, headache and congestion that doesn't clear after several days, according to the Mayo Clinic, a leading not-for-profit medical and research facility.

Home remedies

The Mayo Clinic reports that most cases of acute sinus infections clear without the use of antibiotics if patients follow a regime of getting proper sleep and heat treatments. Applying a warm compress to your face will help reduce pain and swelling. Holding your head over a steamed pot or cup of water will help mucus drain.

Use a heating compress, not an ice pack

If your sinus infection is accompanied by a fever, you might be tempted to apply an ice pack to your face or head to alleviate this symptom. It is more advisable to treat a fever with Tylenol, since an ice pack can cause any mucus within your cavities to grow thicker. Applying a heating compress to your face will help loosen the mucus in your cavities and allow you more freedom to breathe.

See a doctor if symptoms persist

It is very important that the infection in your sinuses be treated as quickly as possible to avoid future complications. Untreated sinus infections have been known to lead to meningitis, vision problems and aneurysms or blood clots. If your symptoms persist for more than two weeks, see a doctor. An antibiotic might be necessary to clear the infection from your system after all.