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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Prevention

There are some measures you can take to decrease your risk of developing sinusitis. If you smoke cigarettes, you should quit. The smoke can irritate nasal passageways and increase the likelihood of infection. Nasal allergies can trigger sinus infections, too. By identifying the allergen (the substance causing the allergic reaction) and avoiding it, you can help prevent sinusitis.

If you have congestion from a cold or allergies, the following may help to reduce the risk of developing sinusitis:

  • Drink lots of water. This thins nasal secretions and keeps mucous membranes moist.

  • Use steam to soothe nasal passages. Breathe deeply while standing in a hot shower, or inhale the vapor from a basin filled with hot water while holding a towel over your head.

  • Avoid blowing your nose with great force, which can push bacteria into the sinuses.

Some doctors advise periodic home nasal washings to clear secretions. This may help prevent, and also treat, sinus infections.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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