Chronic sinus problems, or sinusitis, can make life miserable with congestion, headaches, sinus infections and dizziness.  All of these can combine to make you feel foggy, lightheaded, and generally ill.  However there are many solutions to alleviate your suffering.  Here's an overview of some of the options available to you.

Over the counter medications: These are often the first choice for many people suffering from sinus congestion, and there are several options. 

Antihistamines provide relief by blocking the histamine response caused by an allergic reaction. Histamines produce increased vascular permeability, causing fluid to escape from small blood vessels into the tissues, which lead to classic allergy symptoms; a runny nose, and watery eyes.  They can be useful for seasonal allergies, but can also have side effects, such as drowsiness or dizziness.  Additionally, antihisimines can cause problems for those with high blood pressure, kidney or prostate problems.  Please read the package label before using these products.

Decongestants provide relief by constricting blood vessels in the nose caused by an allergic reaction or cold or flu virus.  Decongestants produce a biochemical reaction, causing small blood vessels in the nose, throat, and sinuses to constrict, which result in reduced swelling and mucus formation.  While they can also be useful in relieving sinus symptoms, decongestants can also cause problems for those with high blood pressure, heart problems, or prostate problems.  Again, please read the package label before taking a decongestant.

Some over the counter products combine an antihistamine, decongestant, and pain and fever reliever in one product.  While these can be useful for alleviating multiple symptoms at once, many of these products contain acetaminophen, the active substance in Tylenol.  As many people take Tylenol on a regular basis, please check the dosage in the product you are taking to avoid an acetaminophen overdose.

Nasal sprays come in many varieties.  Topical decongestant nasal sprays work by constricting blood vessels in the nose.  These are available over the counter at most pharmacies, and can work very quickly to open nasal passages and relieve sinus symptoms.  Extended use of these products can damage the mucous membranes in the nose, causing inflammation and leading to a "rebound"  swelling and congestion effect. As a result, these nasal sprays are recommended for short term use only.

While over the counter medications can be effective, you may have sinus problems severe enough to warrant seeing a physician or allergist.  They can provide a prescription for a variety of products to provide you some relief.

Antihistamine nasal sprays work by locally blocking the histamine response in the nasal passages caused by allergies.  To date, there are only two of the products, Astelin and Pantanase, available only by prescription.  Although you will need to see a physician to obtain these products, they are proving popular among allergy sufferers.

Corticosteroid nasal sprays have been on the market since the early 1990's, and have also proven effective in providing relief to those with sinus problems.  The sprays provide a small topical dose of corticosteroids, which reduce sinus inflammation and histamine production in the nasal passages.  While effective, side effects can include headache, nosebleeds, sinus infections and nausea to those with chemical sensitivities.  These products are also only available by prescription.

A variety of prescription antihistamines and decongestants are also available from a physician.  Medical professionals often have access to the newest products available, and can provide you with samples to try. A visit to an allergist for testing can determine which course of treatment to take, and what medications might be most effective. 

Homeopathic remedies can also provide some relief for sinus sufferers.  Among these, the most used are saline nasal sprays and nasal irrigation products. Saline nasal sprays work by irrigating the nasal passages, providing relief from irritation caused by allergies or dry or dusty air.  Nasal irrigation is the practice of flushing out the sinus passages with a saline solution, to flush out excess mucus or infected material in the sinus passages.  Although several products and devices are available, nasal irrigation can be done using a squeeze bulb and a simple solution of saltwater and baking soda.

While chronic sinus problems can be annoying, exasperating, and cause you a literal and figurative headache, there are plenty of solutions available to alliviate your suffering.  Check with your physician and find a remedy that fits you symptoms, needs, and lifestyle.