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Facial Problems, Noninjury (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Facial or sinus pressure, mild headache, or nasal stuffiness are common with a cold or flu. Home treatment can help relieve your symptoms.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Extra fluids help keep mucus thin and draining, which may help prevent blockage of the sinuses.
    • Adults require 8 fl oz (250 mL) of water or juice every hour.
    • Children require about half that amount.
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist.
  • Inhale steam from a vaporizer, or take long, steamy showers. You may also try breathing the moist air from a bowl of hot water. Put a towel over your head and the bowl to trap the moist air. Make sure the water isn't too hot. Be careful not to get burned by the hot water or steam.
  • Use saltwater nasal washes to help keep the nasal passages open and wash out mucus and bacteria. It also may help to gargle with warm salt water. [Add 1 tsp (5 g) to 16 fl oz (500 mL) of water.]
  • Put warm, wet compresses on your eyes and cheekbones if you have pain around that area. Washcloths dipped in hot water work well. Make sure the water is not too hot so you do not get burned.
  • Avoid alcohol. It makes the tissues lining your nose and sinuses swell up.
  • Do not swim in chlorinated swimming pools. Chlorine can irritate nasal and sinus linings.
  • Elevate your head at night. Some people find it helpful to sleep on 2 or 3 pillows.
  • Use decongestants to relieve nasal stuffiness.
    • Decongestants can be taken by mouth or used as nose drops or sprays. Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), are probably more effective and provide longer relief, but they cause more side effects. Sprays and drops provide rapid but temporary relief.
    • Check with your doctor before using nonprescription medicines if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease. In some states, medicines containing pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed) are kept behind the pharmacist's counter or require a prescription. You may need to ask the pharmacist for it or have a prescription from your doctor to buy the medicine.
    • Use decongestant nasal sprays sparingly and for only 3 days or less. Continued use may lead to a rebound effect, which causes the mucous membranes to become more swollen than they were before you started using the spray.
Note: Decongestants may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use them, check the label. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and, in some cases, weight.

Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

For home treatment measures on other types of facial symptoms, such as eye, nose, mouth, or ear, see the specific topic in Related Information.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Facial pain or swelling increases.
  • Vision changes develop.
  • Painful facial rash develops.
  • Facial feeling or sensation changes develop.
  • Symptoms continue despite home treatment.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
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