6 Ways to Beat Sinus Pain at Work

Photo: TommL

The season for sinus pain is approaching. And this beastly condition doesn’t discriminate. More than 37 million Americans suffer at least one acute attack of sinusitis each year. Unfortunately, the painful, sometimes debilitating inflammation of the sinus passages doesn’t just strike on weekends. (See also: 7 Cheap Treatments for Year-Round Allergies)

Scores of people fight sinus pain during the work day. It’s often a losing battle. Sinusitis sufferers miss about four work days a year. Here are six tips to help sinusitis sufferers make it through a work day or two without burning through those precious sick days.

Embrace the OTC

There’s an array of over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate pain and swelling in your nasal passages. Decongestants like Afrin will reduce swelling in mucous membranes, while analgesics like aspirin or ibuprofen can ease pain. Throw in a bottle a mucolytic (think Robitussin) to thin your mucus. Turning one of your desk drawers into a pharmacy can keep you in the game.

Steam in your Seat

A blast of warm, moist air can do wonders for inflamed passages. See if your boss and your fellow co-workers are cool with you keeping a small vaporizer at your desk. All you need is an outlet and some water. If that fails, you can always head to the bathroom, fill a bowl or pan with hot water and lean in to soak up some steam.


Drink extra fluids to help thin your mucus. You can purchase special sinus pain drinks and tea blends from organic shops and groceries, although it’s tough to pin down their efficacy. Plus, there’s always a hot cup of soup for lunch. Probably better to sip that, though.

Throw in the Towel

Similar to the steam treatment, place a warm compress on your face a couple times each day. Focus your efforts on the spot between your eyes, and make sure the water isn’t scalding. You can use paper towels if you forgot to bring a towel from the linen closet at home.

Hose the Nose

You’ll probably want to hit the bathroom for this one. Tons of people swear by nasal irrigators, the holy grail of which appears to be the Neti Pot. Flushing out your passages with a saltwater solution can work wonders. This can be a tricky maneuver in an office setting, one that rewards those with the courage to commandeer the executive washroom. No one wants to see this.

Kick up Your Lunch

Add some spicy ingredients to your lunch order. Things like garlic, horseradish and Cajun spices can relieve sinus pain and congestion. But it’s important to note that some spicy dishes can actually compound the problem instead of alleviating the pain. So do some quick online research before joining the takeout order.

Do you have any tips on managing sinusitis?

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Guest's picture

The Neti Pot can be great, but be careful if you've ever had your nose broken or other nasal problems as it can lead to lliquid getting trapped in there and lot of unpleasantness.

Saline nasal drops worked better for me - a couple of drops, tilt head back for a bit, then blow your nose, followed by a nasal spray if it's really bad.

Guest's picture

Yeah, the Neti Pot can be a bit disturbing to your office mates catching your snotty purge in the restroom :) And Pearl brings up some important concerns too.

I use the saline nasal drops. It's effective and natural.

Great tips! Working with sinus pain is impossible.