Allergy, Nose & Sinus

5 DIY Ways To Relieve Sinus Congestion, As Recommended By An ENT Specialist

October 13, 2021
woman with sinusiti blowing her nose

Sinus infections occur when there is swelling or inflammation of the tissues lining the paranasal sinuses which are cavities within the facial bones surrounding the nose. Known as sinusitis, this condition occurs when the sinuses are blocked and filled with mucous (fluid from the nose and sinuses). Sinusitis can also be caused by allergies, the common cold or flu, anatomical problems in the nose and poor immunity.

If you have sinusitis,  you may experience symptoms like facial pressure, thick or coloured mucous, loss of sense of smell and thick greenish or yellowish phlegm. Most sinus infections can be managed by a general practitioner. However, if they are severe or keep returning, you may want to see an ENT Specialist in Singapore for  a thorough assessment to look for an underlying cause.

Before you visit a doctor, here are five DIY sinus treatment methods that may help you ease the discomfort and get rid of sinus infections, as recommended by Dr Gan Eng Cern, an ENT Specialist in Singapore

1. Neti-pots and sinus rinses


how to clear a childs blocked nose


Using Neti-pots and other types of sinus rinses to flush the nose and sinuses with saline solutions frequently will help to bring relief to your sinus infection and is one of the ways to clear a blocked nose. This method of nasal irrigation will also help to shorten the duration of the sinus infection. It helps to clear sinus drainage from the nose so your nose feels less stuffy and you find it easier to breathe. The mucus is also thinned out, making it easier for you to expel the discharge along with other possible allergens or irritants. Use distilled or cooled boiled water and do it once or twice a day.


2. Aromatherapy


essential oil dropper for sinusitis treatment


Certain essential oils, such as Eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil, can be helpful in relieving symptoms of sinus congestion caused by allergies, inflammation and the common cold. You can inhale it directly or do steam inhalation using a bowl or diffusers to disperse the essential oils through the air. You can also add a few drops of the oil into your bathwater for an aromatherapy bath to soothe your sinus congestion.


3. Humidifier


humidifier in a bedroom of an ent specialist


In a hot country like Singapore, the majority of us sleep or work in an air-conditioned environment. Air-conditioned rooms can result in drier air which may cause some irritation to the nose and sinuses. Using a humidifier to provide moisture to the air can help to reduce sinus congestion by making your mucus thin out and get it flowing again. Dry and thick mucus in your nose can form crusts that hinder sinus drainage, resulting in a blocked nose. Apart from dry air, air pollutants and tobacco smoke can also irritate the mucous membranes in your nose, causing a sinus infection.


4. Warm compresses and steam inhalation


ent specialist with a warm compress


Placing a warm, wet towel on your face to help ease sinus pain, particularly around the nose, cheeks and eyes to alleviate facial pressure is another effective DIY sinusitis treatment method. You can also breathe in steam from a bowl of warm water or take a hot shower to help open up your nasal passages and loosen secretions. Place the warm towel on your face for a few minutes and alternate with a cold compress for 30 seconds. You can do this several times a day.


5. Over-the-counter (OTC) medication


how to clear a blocked nose with nasal spray


There are various OTC (over-the-counter) medications including oral decongestants, nasal decongestants, and mucolytics. The decongestants help open up your nasal passages and reduce blood flow to the nasal membranes, reducing swelling and congestion. This can also bring relief to the pain and pressure in your sinuses and head. Nasal sprays can shrink the swollen nasal membranes to allow you to breathe more comfortably. For young children, nasal suction is recommended to keep the mucus loose and nasal passages clear. However, do note that OTC oral or nasal decongestants are not meant to be used for a prolonged period of time (not longer than 1 week) as these can cause serious side effects and more problems in the nose.  It is best to consult an ENT Specialist in Singapore for proper sinusitis treatments if symptoms persist. 


Seeking medical help

Drink plenty of fluids and make sure that you have adequate rest and sleep. If your symptoms are not responding to the above-mentioned methods, you should visit an ENT clinic in Singapore early. The ENT Specialist will be able to determine the root cause of your frequent or troublesome sinus infections (e.g. nasal allergies, swollen turbinates, deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps etc) and propose the appropriate sinusitis treatments.

Medically reviewed by Dr Gan Eng Cern

When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

  • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
  • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

Dr Gan Eng Cern

Dr Gan Eng Cern is a distinguished ENT doctor with fellowship training. In addition to his clinical practice as an ear, nose and throat specialist in Singapore, Dr. Gan has contributed to the academic field as a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is recognised for his extensive research work, with numerous contributions to reputable international ENT journals. Dr Gan is also highly sought after as a speaker and has shared his surgical knowledge as a surgical dissection teacher at various prominent ENT conferences and courses.


  • 2020 – Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best ENT Specialist (Expat Living Singapore)
  • 2016 – Best Educator Award (Eastern Health Alliance)
  • 2016 – “Wow” Award (Patient Compliment)
  • 2014 – Eastern Health Alliance Caring Award – Silver
  • 2014 – 19th Yahya Cohen Memorial Lectureship (awarded by the College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine Singapore for best scientific surgical paper)
  • 2012 – Human Manpower Development Award (Ministry of Health, Singapore)
  • 2007 – Singhealth Best Doctor Award


  • MBBS – Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
  • MRCS (Edin) – Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • MMed (ORL) – Master of Medicine in ENT (National University of Singapore)
  • FAMS – Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Singapore

Why Choose Dr Gan Eng Cern


Reliable & Reputable ENT Expert

Experienced and patient ENT Specialist who has your best interests at heart. We aim to provide you with accessible and specialized care for any ENT condition in a comfortable setting.


Friendly & Helpful Clinic Staff

Our friendly staff will assist you to the best of our ability and we are happy to accept most insurance providers and assist with E-filing with relevant insurance providers or Medisave.


Advanced ENT Equipment & Fully Equipped Facility

Our ENT Specialist, Dr Gan Eng Cern, will be able to diagnose and offer personalised treatments for your specific ENT condition. You can expect a high level of ENT care in a spacious setting with in-house minor surgical, endoscopy, allergy testing and microscopy services.


Financial Options

There are various financial options available for you to ensure that you are able to receive the most optimal treatment and care. Our ENT clinic staff will be able to assist you with your medical insurance claims and work with your chosen healthcare organization to minimize the hassle and paperwork required. In some cases, you may be able to utilise the funds in your Medisave account to defray part of the costs of your treatment. As our clinic is accredited by the Medisave board, we are able to process your claims from your Medisave for certain clinic procedures.

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