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Thursday, January 14, 2010


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Ugh-- that sounds awful! (Or should I say, "That Blows!" ? Bad pun, anyone? Okay nevermind.)

Hopefully the drugs work.

And also, I wear a size 10 (and I'm only 5'7).

I have similar sinus problems, Arwen-- I'm so sorry and I feel your pain. My 3 yr old daughter got her first nasty sinus infection this winter and I fear she has inherited my (and my dad's/grandma's/etc.) sinuses. I have had great luck with the neti pot too and now I would like to see if my daughter will try it. Ha! Let me know if you have any ideas there!

Re: antibiotics, my doctor has said that sinusitis is particularly hard to treat and back-to-back doses are often needed if the infection has gotten bad. If your stomach can tolerate it, I have had luck with this approach.

I also use Zicam (zinc, over the counter) at the slightest whiff of a cold and this has helped keep minor respiratory infections from turning into full-blown sinusitis.

You mentioned allergies... you might really be onto something there. In addition to seasonal allergies, which can really cause problems for us sinus sufferers, you might want to think about possible food sensitivities as well. A colleague of mine had such debilitating chronic sinusitis that she was considering surgery (which, by the way, I have heard to stay away from). The antibiotics weren't working and were really messing up her system. Anyway, it turned out that she is very sensitive to both wheat and dairy and once she eliminated them from her diet she was able to recover.

Good luck!

So glad you found the magic blue neti pot. I LURVE me some neti pot!!

My Mom suffered from sinus infections for years before discovering she was allergic to wheat and dairy. Presto, no more sinus infections after she cut those two items out of her diet. More veggies, less bread. ;)

Hmmm, no advice, but I have had that same problem now and then with thinking my head was going to explode at the end of a flight (and wondering why no one else was writhing in pain...) so I am glad to have a lead to follow here!

Neti pots are pretty cool if you get over the initial you-want-me-to-do-what? Alice got one for me because I was constantly blowing my nose in Michigan (now that I've written that, I've noticed I don't need to as much in Seattle -- guess it's the air). Sorry can't help with the sinuses!

You could always drink heavily. Joking! Seriously, sinus issues are horrible - I feel your pain! (That was a bad pun, I think.) Sorry I don't have more advice, I'm kind of stubborn and tend to ignore aches, pains and illnesses until they smack me down into submission.

Hope you feel better soon!

Chronic sinus sufferer here, too. My Dr said that acute cases of sinusitis are probably bacterial (and can be treated with antibiotics) but if the infection lasts longer than 4 weeks (I think), it's probably viral. I'm sure by now we all know how effective antibiotics are at treating viruses. Anyway, I use a steriod nasal spray (Nasonex or Flonase) when I start to feel all sinus-y. That helps for me.

FWIW, I had the surgery. It wasn't so bad. The number of sinus infections was drastically decreased. In addition to being perpetually infected, my sinuses were also loaded with polyps so the surgery got rid of those, making more room for drainage and the like. Oh, and they corrected an extremely deviated septum. I went for the works.

Flying with what turned out to be an ear infection (or at least it became an ear infection on the descent) was easily the worst pain I've ever experience. Childbirth was a piece of cake in comparison. I don't have sinus issues, so take this with a cup full of salt, but when I thought I might be coming down with something sinusy around Thanksgiving I started gulping down water with a tablespoon or so of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. I didn't have time to go the doctor and it seemed like the easiest and least invasive home remedy I could find. My sinuses actually started to feel better within hours. Of course, I also tried really hard to believe it would work to benefit from the possible placebo effect ;)

I have a really bad sinuses and I also wear a size 10!

My sinus saga started in 6th grade when I began getting one sinus infection after another pretty much all year round (that lasted until age 21). I finally started taking Claritin, which really helped when the infection started because of allergies.

I have to add that I grew up literally in the middle of the woods in Connecticut and my parents also had a lot of pets -- I am allergic to pollen AND cats and dogs so I'm sure that contributed.

Fast forward to age 21 when I moved to Los Angeles and my sinus issues were GREATLY alleviated. However, I still get crazy bad allergies several times a year so I have a tried and true routine that works wonders.

Step one -- some kind of steroid nasal spray like Nason*x or Fl*nase. Both have worked well for me, but Fl*nase has a generic version, so it's cheaper. This has been very effective for me with no side effects.

Step two -- Claritin. I prefer the one without the "D" since the decongestant element makes me feel like I'm on speed. I have pretty few side effects on this as well, and you can buy the generic at T*rget in a bulk pack for a very good price.

Step three -- Neti pot. You're already doing this and it does help a lot.

I've taken these drugs for years on and off, and I'm not huge on taking pills, so I would say they have a very low amount of side effects. I would recommend any of the above, or all three (which I need sometimes when my sinuses get really bad).

I had to laugh when I read Pippi's comment because I was going to say....go to Earth Clinic and see what they say....and usually they are swearing by Apple Cider Vinegar for every ailment under the sun. Personally the stuff makes me GAG but if you can stomach it... ;)

Have you seen an ENT? I know there's something they can pack into your sinuses that basically "burns" out whatever is in there. Sounds horrible, but less horrible than what you're going through.

Also, I wear size 10 shoes too. My 10 year old daughter wears size 8.5 or 9 (yes, women's). I am afraid.

I hereby propose a correlation between wearing size 10 shoes and having sinus problems.

I get mine from my dad. He's had surgery twice (once about 25 years ago and once 10 months ago), and swears by it. Personally, I'd rather avoid it if I can.

No advice from me, unfortunately, since I just snuffle and complain my way through it. (I share Lisa's problem of not being able to take decogestants and act like a normal person. And I don't like taking pills anyway.)

I have the same problem related to weather and pressure and headaches. I usually take Tylenol Allergy/sinus headache in combination with aspirin (one of each, or two of the allergy and one aspirin, followed by another aspirin in an hour if it's really bad). It's usually enough to get rid of the pain, but occasionally it just dulls it to manageable.

My ENT suggests sudafed, and afrin before a flight too, but in the long term I use rhinacort to get the underlying swelling down.
My grandmother also had awful sinus problems and in the 1930's, they packed her nose with cocaine, which cleared it RIGHT UP! She asked for it again, and they said "no, once a life time treatment" The funny part is she was total teetotaller and never let a drop of alchol pass her lips, but I she used cocaine!


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Ick, I hate feeling bad like that.

Too late for your weekend, but as a fellow sufferer I would suggest neti pot as close to the flight as possible (in the airport bathroom?), meds as recommended by the dr, and possibly just plain-ol' painkillers taken preventatively rather than during accute pain (it's easier to avoid pain than to dull serious pain). Let us know how the flight went!

Hope you feel better soon, Arwen!

Just wanted to say that I agree with this completely: "I've always hated sunny bright cold days, much preferring gray snowy days."

I think I feel this way b/c it reminds me of burning up in the car with my coat on as a child and then going outside without a coat and freezing. (I grew up in Texas so I was in the car a lot! Big state!)

Allergy shots, advil cold & sinus, OTC allergy pills, and nasal spray.

All the time.

It's the ONLY way I get through the summer. I have very severe allergies; if I touch a dog the wrong way and forget, my eyes will swell. If I dust, my nose gets so runny that I can't breathe for an afternoon. It sucks some serious monkey to be this allergic.

There's a surgery you can try, but it might reduce your sense of smell due to damage to.. some... thing in your nose, the hairs or whatever. You might want to bring it up, but... they basically roto-root your sinuses. Might work?

I have exactly the same bone-splintering type pain in my head you describe when I fly, too. I have tried using the pseudoephedrine and a couple of ibuprofen and it really works well. I highly recommend it!

Size 9.5 here, but definitely with you on the sinus issues. I use this when I get the icepick headaches. It seems to break up the pain. But if you don't like the smell of Vicks vap-o-rub, you'll probably hate it. Pseudoephedrine works well too. Hope your flight went well.

Ugh, I have minor sinus issues, my worst being horrible post-nasal drip, which my son seems to have inherited. I didn't have allergies as a kid, but I seem to be collecting them now! I agree the Neti pot is helpful. Just for fun, I'm trying to reduce, if not eliminate, gluten from my diet, and well, I do feel a bit better than usual. It's fustrating, these health issuses...I often feel like an appliance out of order, with the owners manual missing.....

Wow, I haven't commented on your blog in forever, sorry... but anyway, an acquaintance of mine had chronic sinus problems, eventually saw a doctor about it, and it turned out that she had a (brace yourself) "fungus ball" in her sinus that had to be surgically removed. Basically, she'd had a chronic (years-long) fungal infection in her sinuses, which was worsened by the climate she was living in. Once they got it out and treated the infection, she felt worlds better. To date, that's the weirdest cause of sinus problems I've ever heard of, and I assume it's rare, but I thought I'd mention it.

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