Try this sinus triumph
September 19, 2019 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I have had sinus drainage for like 2 weeks now, and I'm ready for it to be over. I have quirky issues with solving the problem however. Please hope me.

I have sicca syndrome (dryness problems everywhere) so I can't really take decongestants. To complicate matters even more, I am allergic to almost every antibiotic and don't need to take the strong ones I can tolerate for something this minor.

I used a neti pot to get things moving which helped some but the drainage is still there and now it's also causing some ear pain. I also tried sitting in a hot shower with some oil of oregano in case this is bacterial or viral (source for my woo here). What other solutions might there be that I've not thought of? I'm ready for my head to feel normal again.
posted by crunchy potato to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did you use the neti pot only once? When you're sick it's good to use it regularly, a couple times a day, until the illness clears up - it's not supposed to be a one-time cure.
posted by waffleriot at 2:23 PM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

An antihistamine?
posted by catspajammies at 2:23 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I usually go with an antihistamine to control the reaction causing the congestion - I mean to take one daily year-round but I fall off and this is usually my reminder to start back up. And while decongestants do give me some relief at night I think it's actually taking extended-release guaifenesen (Mucinex, or store brand) during the day when I am upright that actually gets things moving and out of my face instead of down my throat. It does often mean you need a handy trash can and a multipack of the best tissues so there's a box at hand at all times.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:30 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Used neti pot over a 3 day period but I think that's what caused it to move more into my ears so I stopped.
posted by crunchy potato at 2:34 PM on September 19, 2019

Neti pot and Mucinex is what gets me out of this sinus issue. I also take antihistamine to try to stop what initially triggered the mucus overload.
posted by quince at 2:44 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nasalcrom's a non-antihistamine OTC pharmaceutical sinus spray that is very gentle and can work wonders. It can be hard to find -- use their web "find a retailer" system, then call ahead to make sure it's on the shelf. Sometimes the pharmacy has had it behind the counter.

I want more people to know about Nasalcrom! It should be more widely available. It basically protects the mast cells in your mucus membranes, which prevents them from reacting. It's not an antihistamine, though, and doesn't have the side effects they do.

Super clean everything in your space. Maybe something there (dust, other particulate, scent) is irritating your sinuses. Consider getting allergy tests/treatment.

Humidifier? You're probably already doing this.

Gargling with warm not-to-salty salt water might help save your voice.
posted by amtho at 3:01 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Try a hot compress for the ear pain.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:06 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Talk to your doctor about:
Nasal saline spray
Continue neti pot use
Warm tea
Guaifenesin medication with no added cough suppressant or decongestant (Mucinex brand has many variations)
Possibly an anti-inflammatory

While you wait for that conversation, get a few extra pillowcases and change them every night or every other night. The water temperature for washing doesn't matter, but do dry them on hot for a full dryer cycle, to eradicate as many mites as possible. Sometimes it seems that has something to do with nose funk, for me. Either way, sleeping on a fresh pillowcase is nice and makes being stuffy less miserable.
posted by bilabial at 4:47 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mucinex + steam can help a lot. A warm washcloth draped over your sinuses also can feel very good. I find breathing steam a few times a day can really make a difference during a bad sinus episode.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:14 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Do be careful of the neti pot and trust your own experience if it seems to be making you worse. It doesn't work for everyone (it doesn't work for me and I managed to make myself quite sick trying to make it work)
posted by Zumbador at 8:52 PM on September 19, 2019

I noticed some peppers used in sauces affect me, when others don't. I can eat cayenne or tabasco don't even sense them. But Loiusiana Hot Sauce irritates my tear ducts and my eyes run. It might be there is a new ingredient in your diet that you are allergic to.
posted by Oyéah at 9:02 PM on September 19, 2019

Instead of the neti pot, have you tried the squeeze bottle kind? Tilting my head with a neti pot can cause similar problems for me. Using the squeeze bottles don't involve tilting the head and are much better.
posted by Ahniya at 9:48 PM on September 19, 2019

This is going to sound more than crazy, but have you tried to clear your lower sinuses via gravity?
Obviously, YMMV.

Think of the sinuses in your head as being a bunch of pop bottles, say 8, arranged like a 3D snowflake pattern with their necks all pointing to the centre. They all drain to this centre, this is the back of your throat.

I don't have chronic congestion but have found this 'discovery' to be the thing that works most consistently. Others have suggested some really great tips here too.

I try to orient my head pointing upside down and my nostrils as close to pointing straight-up as possible. Combined with drinking water more and diet changes generally (reduced carbs a lot, cut out sugar almost entirely), I've found relief from congestion for the most part. I used to use a neti pot semi-regularly but haven't needed to now for at least 6 months.

I find that when I am really congested in my lower sinuses, I usually can clear them in about 10 minutes when I lie down on a bed with my head curled over the edge. It can take a while, though, where for long periods it will feel like nothing's happening.

Occasionally it won't work by itself.

But more often than not, even in those cases, getting up or settling on the bed normally, then tilting my head by lying on my side helps.

It seems the lower sinuses work like the drainpipes under your sink with vents, in that the vents / duct openings to the rest of your head and throat are located opposite from where they pool, at the top of your nose. In these sinuses, the cilia instead force mucus up to various points where your head can clear it.

This is problematic when you get congested, because unlike your other sinuses, these lower maxillary sinuses likely never get to take full advantage of gravity's pull to clear, even when you're asleep. If you sleep with a pillow under your head this will likely make the problem worse.

Pointing your head down over the edge of a bed for 10 minutes solves this by allowing the mucus to pool at the top of your nose, and drain into your throat.

Anyway. Try it out. It might not work for you, you might look silly for 10 minutes. I hope it works, though!
posted by northtwilight at 1:57 AM on September 20, 2019

My sinus problems haven helped a lot by using a steroid nasal spray. Mine is Flonase Sensimist, available over the counter. You use it daily during your bad season(s) and it starts working after 7 days. Reduces sinus inflammation, congestion, and post-nasal drip. I used to get hideous sinus headaches, but haven't had any in the two seasons I've used Flonase.
posted by wryly at 9:55 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

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