Sinus Infection Help!
January 24, 2015 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Hi, I've read similar questions on here before but I just want to know if anyone has any updated information or is in a similar situation and can help with my sinus/tiredness issues.

I've been having massive headaches/face-aches (!) all fall and finally went to an ENT who (after a CT) scan, indicated I had a sinus infection that showed up on the scan but not in my nose, if that makes sense. Ie, I have congestion/restricted breathing (from swelling/inflamed tissues?) it seems through my nostrils but no mucous issues.

I thought I was allergic to penicillin so took two courses of Biaxin. The ENT said if I continued to have same problems I may have to consider surgery which I.DO.NOT.WANT. Now it turns out I may not be allergic to penicillin (have to do further testing to see)... so am imagining I may have yet another course of antibiotics in my future but if they didn't work before....

Anyway, what the hell can I do to get rid of this tiredness, hard to breath through nose, generally feeling like I'm 80 years old, all the time, feeling. I have the whole Neilmed system but since there isn't the mucous issues, just inflamed tissues in my inner sinuses it seems, it seems like a lot of bother for no discernible purpose.

Come on sinus-challenged-metafilterians, talk to me!
posted by bquarters to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you tried Flonase or its generic equivalent? It really seems to help me, and I have a very similar issue: pressure, headaches, fatigue and difficulty breathing through my nose but with little actual mucus-y stuff.
posted by imalaowai at 3:43 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you ever bought over-the-counter Afrin and seen if that clears up your breathing and problems? I use to have these problems and it was caused by swelling in my nasal passages that made it hard to breathe. It was closed off so it just kind of festered and would give me infections and headaches and discolored discharged. I discovered Afrin was actually all I needed to open things up.

Overusing Afrin or generic OTC nasal spray can cause what's call "rebound congestion," so if Afrin does help, then you should ask your doctor if you can try using Flonase (fluticasone propionate) and azelastine hydrochloride. Both are nasal sprays that fix rhinitis and will open things up consistently to get rid of your infections festering. Unlike Afrin, you use them every day. The Flonase I believe is to relieve congestion and the azelastine HCI is an antihistamine that prevents it in the first place. You can even ask for brand name Dymista, which is just both combined into one nasal spray, if your insurance covers it.

Fluticasone propionate and azelastine HCI literally changed my life. After using them consisently for a few years now, I almost never have the problems that used to plague me every day. They will stop the nasal membrane swelling and congestion.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:02 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

You need to start using a Neti pot. Ever since I started using mine daily I haven't had a sinus infection, and when I started using it I was able to fend off an infection without antibiotics for the first time ever. If you are plugged up the water won't go through your sinuses, so sometimes a bit of afrin to open things up will help, or just stand in a hot shower for a while and see if the steam will help. Good luck...I used to get one every time I got a cold and as an elementary teacher I've had a lot! Now most colds are gone quickly and I truly give the credit to the Neti pot.
posted by OkTwigs at 4:44 PM on January 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Seconding neti pot. I did NOT believe it until a doctor recommended it. Takes a bit to get the hang of it but holy smokes it is cheap, effective, and no side effects so give it a shot. Worked great on my sinus infection. No antibiotics needed.
posted by jcworth at 4:54 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

yeah, afrin is good, but as appleturnover says, don't overuse it. also saline sprays can work really well, and i haven't found them addictive. flonase, as s/he said, is good, and my ent recommended patanase. i use them in tandem. also, this is odd, but try rubbing vicks on your face and under your nose, as well as your chest.

i had the surgery, and it helped a lot, but i had a chronic sinus infection for three months, so i was about to perform it on myself! it doesn't sound like you're at that point. feel free to pm me, though, if you want to know about the procedure. it actually wasn't too bad, but i understand why you'd want to avoid it if it's unnecessary! feel better!
posted by dovesandstones at 5:15 PM on January 24, 2015

The poster said they have a NeilMed system, so I assume that is nasal irrigation or a neti pot.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:17 PM on January 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Thirding Neti (tip: get the squeezable bottle instead of the actual kettle/pot-looking thing, which I don't think works as well, especially if you already are blocked up).
posted by lovableiago at 5:17 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ask the doctor if you can be prescribed oral steroids with the antibiotics. I get frequent sinus infections, and when the swelling gets bad, the only thing that fixes it is steroids + antibiotics, to both reduce the swollen tissue and clear out the infection, all at once. It's not at all good for your body to do frequently, but it absolutely works.

And yes, use nasal irrigation, even if you don't have much mucus. Part of the point is to keep the tissue inside your nose/sinuses hydrated and clean, which helps with the inflammation even if you're not stuffed up.
posted by decathecting at 5:26 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

This one weird trick... works every time for me. I had horrible sinus problems after a diving trip for a year, did everything described in this thread and didn't work but this did.

It's on YouTube called the butyeko nose clearing method. Basically you close your mouth and make sure your tongue is pushed upwards sealing off your airway so you can't mouth breathe, then you hold your nose and nod your head up and down slowly for as long as you can (or side to side) Keep your mouth closed, unpinch your nose and breathe in through it. If it's still blocked do it again. It has never not worked in one or two tries. It's like taking a shot of afrin for me. The trick is to make sure to use your tongue to isolate your mouth/nose airways. I don't really know how to explain that but you probably know what I mean.

To make it last you have to always breathe through your nose, that keeps it open. I have no sinus issues anymore, the last time I got a cold rant threatened to turn into a sinus infection I just put a hot compress on my face for 30 minutes and breathed and it went away. Awesome.
posted by fshgrl at 5:33 PM on January 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Just as a data point, neti pots and neti squeeze bottles did not help me very much at all. If the problem isn't stuff inside your sinuses, I'm not sure it helps. My swelling and congestion was there, whether I did nasal irrigation or not, and that was the root problem. Also, OP said he/she tried that already.

I think it's irresponsible that your ENT started you off with scans and antibiotics without having you try nasal spray. My ENT did the exact same thing, which in retrospect kind of makes me mad. The doctor who prescribed me the nasal sprays that changed my life was just a general practitioner.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:41 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have serious sinus issues. A Neti pot sorta works sometimes. Trying painkillers (Tylenol) and sudafed also sometimes work as well as the nasal spray people are recommending. I have a friend that did the surgery and still has issues all the time which is why I have decided mostly to just deal with it.

The only other thing I'd like to point out is do you know what triggers them? I've learned over the years that my allergies tend to trigger the infection somehow. When I've lived in places where my allergies weren't as bad I had fewer sinus infections. Maybe once you learn your triggers (if any) you can figure out what lifestyle changes to make. YMMV of course. Good luck and I hope you find a solution that works for you.
posted by FireFountain at 6:03 PM on January 24, 2015

Allergy shots have solved my former sinus infection problem.
posted by vegartanipla at 6:24 PM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Has your ENT ruled out fungal sinusitis? I had it for probably a couple of years before it got figured out, and was suffering pretty much daily from face pain and periodic bursts of vertigo combined with a deep, gong-like pain in my rear sinuses (back of my head but definitely not my neck).

I think the Neilmed bottle wash is a love/hate experience, probably a lot more polarizing than the moderate dislike possible with a neti pot. All of them are a pain in the ass now that you can't use tap water, because of brain amoebas - I can't stand to use it cold so I have to warm my distilled water in the microwave in a coffee cup, then wait for it to cool down some, then into the neti pot, add baby shampoo, the whole rigamarole is a pain. But it's probably worth trying it consistently for at least a couple of weeks to see if you get more relief.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:37 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, a steroid to reduce swelling seems to be your best bet, like Flonase or Nasacort.

Several people here have recommended trying out Flonase. I just wanted to let you know that this should be available soon OTC, like in the next week or so. It might actually be available already in your area, so you might want to call your local pharmacy to see. If not, I'd use Nasacort, which already is OTC.

I'd also take an antihistamine like Claritin or Zyrtec as well (the generics, that is). Definitely get Sudafed if you can, it helps a lot of people with your sort of symptoms.
posted by Trifling at 7:17 PM on January 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Hopefully you saw the ENT after seeing your GP, who ruled out the possibility of other causes for your symptoms? If not, I would strongly urge you to get a second opinion on whether this is the cause and only cause of your symptoms.

I also had headaches and face-aches plus sometimes a runny nose, watery eyes, and congested feelings. I definitely have allergic rhinitis, severe enough that I did a few years of allergy shots. I had a CAT scan that showed inflammation in the sinuses. Several doctors diagnosed sinus issues as the main cause of my pain and sent me down a path of decongestants, nasal sprays, steroids, etc. All of these things helped but not completely. My main problem was undiagnosed migraine. Sometimes migraines can present like sinus problems (facial pain, watery eyes) and the two conditions can also coexist. If I am having actual sinus issues, the pain from that can trigger a migraine so it has been a good idea to treat sinus issues (but so can non-sinus things so things like sumatriptan are a miracle to me...)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:59 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, thank you so much for all of your responses! That is exactly why I asked this question here! Especially hearing about Flonase being available OTC (Amazon says Feb 4th!) and the potentiality for migraines. I'm going to read all of these over again and will see allergist again soon and possibly my ENT again...thank you again for all of your help and advice!!
posted by bquarters at 8:12 PM on January 24, 2015

I had six sinus infections/ever more expensive anti-biotics in a row once and what finally worked was mucinex (back when it was still prescription). Sinus infections need a warm moist place to grow and if you can keep you're sinuses dried out, it will help prevent infections.

Allergy shots were also a big help and only using anti-bacterial soap when absolutely necessary. There was a study that said people with allergies have immune systems that are attacking harmless stuff like dust, etc. because people have overdone it with killing germs that your immune system use to have to deal with. I was surprised it worked but it did help me.
posted by stray thoughts at 2:33 AM on January 25, 2015

If you know for certain you've got a sinus infection, they now make aerosolized antibiotics (!) that you inhale with a powered atomizer. Yup, really. I'm not saying that taking more antibiotics is necessarily your answer, but for me, a guy who easily gets sinus infections, it has worked for me 2x so far in cases where I would have had to have taken pill-form, strafeing-your-whole-body antibiotics. Which you might still need, obviously, if the local inhaled form can't get at where your infection is.

Besides that, and not discounting anyone's advice above, I highly recommend the book Sinus Relief Now by Jordan Josephson . I'm not sure how 'ground breaking' it is, anymore, but it is a book that includes every dang thing that you can try to relieve sinus shenanigans. ( Ok, well, all the things I consider legit from a science-y standpoint. :)
posted by bitterkitten at 7:57 AM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I read the Sinus Cure. It really helped me to understand about irrigation.

I know you said you never want surgery...and I didn't either (I was petrified). I had tried everything and finally agreed to the surgery. I recovered immediately and never had another bout with sinus issues. What I am trying to say is, if surgery is the last resort thing you must do, just find a wonderful surgeon and you'll sail through it! It was a miracle for me.
posted by naplesyellow at 10:36 PM on January 25, 2015

I have heard good things about the MOJO. Might be worth a shot if you're trying to avoid surgery.
posted by aniola at 1:12 AM on January 26, 2015

I have recurring sinus issues and what works really well for symptoms is a daytime sinus med with ibuprofen. Advil Sinus is the brand name - other painkillers don't work for me, there is something special about ibuprofen that really takes away the inflammation in my sinuses.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:36 PM on January 26, 2015

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