Posted on: July 27, 2021 Posted by: Eline Comments: 0
dicing with a whale shark in Oman

Not many things are as irritating as wanting to (free) dive and feeling fine, but finding out that your sinuses are congested. It has happened to me before… I had planned to dive with friends at the deep swimming pool Nemo 33 in Brussels and woke up some days before feeling a bit congested in my sinuses. I researched how I could fix this and did most of what I found. It wasn’t completely fixed, but it helped a lot and I was able to touch the bottom of the swimming pool. These were the things I found (keep in mind I am not a doctor and this is no medical advice). 

When your sinuses are congested there are several ways you can try to fix this. You can try a neti pot, steaming, nasal spray, sinus massage,  ginger tea, other types of food, try to avoid certain foods or go see a doctor.

If the nasal tissue becomes inflamed it blocks the airways. This will then trap excess mucus in the sinuses. The excess mucus creates the perfect environment for the growth of bacteria and viruses. Congested sinuses could be caused by seasonal allergies, a cold, the flu, hormonal changes, an infection, stress and more. You can try these things to get rid of your congestion:

11 Ways to fix congested sinuses for (free-)diving

  1. Neti Pot 

You can rinse your sinuses at home using a Neti Pot. A Neti Pot, which looks like a teapot, flushes out the mucus from your nose. My boyfriend, who often has congested sinuses, is a great fan. You boil some water, let it cool off, add some salt for a salt solution and add it to the neti pot. 

To use the neti pot, put the tip in your upper nostril and lean sideways. The idea is that the water travels from one nostril to your sinuses and then out through your other nostril, taking all the sticky stuff which had been sitting in your sinuses. If you go too far back with your head, the salt water will run to your throat and too far forward and it won’t go up all the way. 

Be sure to rinse the neti pot with the sterile water and let it air dry. You can get a neti pot at pharmacies or health food stores.

  1. Steaming

Steam inhalation is one of the oldest home remedies used for when you have a cold and works great to relieve congested sinuses. Just get some hot water in a pan and hold your face maybe 30 cm above it with a towel over your head. You can even add some drops of essential oil which may help such as eucalyptus, Camille or peppermint.

  1. Massage Your Sinuses

There are several massages that you can do from the outside to help clear your sinuses. One is to put pressure with your tongue against the top of your mouth and push with your thumb between your eyebrows. Hold it for about 20 seconds.

You can also place both your index finger and middle finger next to each other close to each side of your nose and while you breath out apply some pressure against your sinus cavities next to your nose.

Another one you can try is putting your thumbs under the place where your eyebrow meets your nose and applying some pressure upwards.

  1. Nasal spray

You can also try a nasal spray. But be careful though with the nasal spray since over use of the spray causes sinus to congest. 

  1. Drink Lots of (Hot) Water

Being well hydrated helps thinning out the mucus and in this way clearing out the sinuses. Drink lots of water, tea and drinks without added sugar. Avoid caffeine and alcohol since those are drinks that dehydrate the body instead of hydrating it.

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? Congested sinuses can be caused by a lack of sleep. Raising your head during the night, by placing an extra pillow for example, may also may help encourage the blockages to clear.

  1. Ginger tea

Drinking ginger tea is often given as advice by freedivers if your sinuses are blocked. Ginger has anti-inflammatory qualities and stimulates mucus secretion. To make the tea just put some fresh pieces of ginger thinly sliced in a cup and add some hot water. 

  1. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with water aids in clearing out the sinuses as well. It’s a home remedy many people swear by. The cider loosens the mucus and clears the airways, while its antibacterial properties kill the infection-causing bacteria.

You can mix two tablespoons of cider with half a cup of water and to add even more great anti-inflammatory ingredients you can also add some lemon, a little bit of cayenne pepper and some honey. This combination is also used a lot as a home remedy against a cold.

  1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice, found a lot in curry’s for its flavor and known for its anti-inflammatory ingredients. It has also shown some decongestant properties because it can reduce the swelling of the sinus cavities. 

Try eating a curry with turmeric for dinner or add some turmeric to a smoothie.

I’ve read on several places on the internet that 0,5 gr – 3 gr seems to be the best per day. (But it’s always better to get advice from your doctor)

  1. Mangosteen juice

More and more long-term chronic sinus sufferers are trying mangosteen. I read on a dive forum somewhere that it was the solution for one of the people on there after trying everything. Mangosteen is an exotic fruit from Southeast Asia (not a mango) and seen as a super fruit. It’s available as mangosteen juice, whole fruit, and powdered extract.

It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It’s also said to have histamine inhibiting qualities and is therefore great for sinus problems. Try the mangosteen juice out!

  1. Avoid certain food

Try to avoid certain foods such as those with processed sugar because sugar can trigger inflammation. Similarly, foods with a high content of saturated fat (pizza, cheese) for the same reason and dairy products which can thicken the mucus present in the sinuses. Also, avoid beer and alcohol as it can cause inflammation and dehydration.


  1. Standing on Your Head

It’s a little weird and I don’t know how it works but I found that it works for me at times to stand on your head and let gravity do it’s work. What I’ll do is find a wall, put my head between my elbow and throw my legs to the wall and stand for maybe 20 seconds. Practice safely and maybe ask someone to help you catch your legs if you fall. 

If none of these work you can also get checked out by a doctor to make sure you have no chronic issues. In some cases a surgery is required to unblock the sinuses. But in most cases just experiment a little with your diet, try out the neti pot, drink enough and get enough sleep and it will probably pass so you can start diving again.

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