My sinuses are trying to kill me.
June 30, 2007 4:46 PM   Subscribe

I've had sinus pain for about 11 days now, and I've tried about everything (details below). Suggestions?

About two weeks ago, on Tuesday the 19th, I was at our storage facility, looking through old books that haven't been checked out for a long while to see if we should get rid of them. I was there for about 6 or 7 hours total, and at the end of the day, I had a bad headache. This didn't surprise me, because I've had bad reactions to massive amounts of dust before.

After taking Claritin, using my prescription nasal spray (Nasonex), using my neti pot (with just water and salt), and even Excedrin migraine, my head was still hurting quite a bit by Thursday, so I saw the physician's assistant. She prescribed me Allegra-D, and that was about it.

The following Monday, I was still feeling crappy, and the Excedrin migraine wasn't helping anymore, so I went and saw my doctor. She declared I had a sinus infection (said it was looking crusty), and prescribed me an antibiotic (amoxicillin). She told me to take guafenesin instead of a decongestant because of my high blood pressure, and NyQuil, so I started taking the latter in the day and the NyQuil at bedtime.

I've been using the Nasonex intermittently, still, and for the last few days, I've been trying to use the neti pot at least twice a day. I've finished off the entire box of guafenesin, so I'm going to buy more of that. That seemed to help a bit.

For the most part, it's just around my nose and below my eyes that hurts and feels pressured. I also have been feeling some pain in the back of my head, in sort of a band - in terms of location, it's been basically right above the hairline.

Some additional gross details: I don't feel very congested, and haven't. The guafenesin produced a little more post nasal drip, but for the most part, it wasn't irritating to my throat. I haven't needed to blow my nose very much, and when I have, my mucus has never been anything other than clear or white.

So it's now Saturday, and my head/my sinuses been hurting for about 11 days now, and you know, I'm pretty tired of it, and feeling really frustrated because while some of the things are seeming to help, nothing seems to be actually getting at the problem.

I'd appreciate answers to either or both of the following questions:

(1) Any thoughts on what could be causing the pain? I'm kind of skeptical that it's actually an infection, due to the fact that the antibiotics don't seem to really be getting rid of it, and the color of the mucus. Could it be some sort of mold?

(2) What else can I or should I be doing?

I'm not averse to going to the doctor's office a THIRD time, but I'd feel better if I had a suggestion for another direction to go in.

My sinuses and I thank you!
posted by rikhei to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
For relief, get some menthol crystals from the pharmacy (they aren't expensive, but they will probably be behind the counter), add a teeny amount to hot water, and breath in the steam. Waft the steam towards you before sticking your face right in it, because it can be pretty intense.

If it's a viral infection, the amoxicillin won't do squat. You'll just have to fight it off. Plenty of fluids, rest, chicken soup and all that.
posted by happyturtle at 4:51 PM on June 30, 2007

Assuming there's no reason you can't take an anti-inflammatory, do that. Ibuprofen or naproxen, not acetominophen. I need to take it pretty religiously every 4-6 hours for two days before the swelling is really under control. That's where your pain and pressure is coming from.

Drink lots of water, too, and run a humidifier if the air is dry where you are.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:59 PM on June 30, 2007

Yeah, I have chronic sinusitis aggravated by dust and drastic temperature changes, and the only thing that works for me is Advil cold and sinus (basically Sudafed + ibuprofen). Since you can't do the Sudafed thing but you have your own decongestant, I'd recommend adding in the NSAID/antinflammatory of your choice.

Hot tea (especially strongly fragrant types) really helps, too.
posted by rhoticity at 5:07 PM on June 30, 2007

i've had horrific sinus headaches in the past, and have found an ice pack helps.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:36 PM on June 30, 2007

I'm a huge skeptic towards quackpot medical cure-alls, but I can actually vouch for SinusBuster cayenne pepper nasal spray. It sounds terrifying, but the initial "bite" is tempered by some of the cool herbal ingredients, and after a couple of uses I actually started looking forward to the little rush. It definitely gets in there and clears out whatever is gunking me up.
posted by Tubes at 6:10 PM on June 30, 2007

Go to an ENT (Ear-Nose-and-Throat-doctor)! It's been my experience that General Practitioners don't really "get" my sinus/allergy issues -- unless they suffer from similar problems (which they usually don't -- again that's just my experience.)
posted by treepour at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2007

I'm going to second treepour, you sound not too far off from impacted sinuses. That along with a strep infection from hell put me in the hospital for a week.

The reason I'm telling the scare tale is because I didn't feel stuffed up, either, so I was pretty suprised to be laid out flat for three days.

After I got out, I "brewed" a hot bowl of water with a lavender-chamomile teabag in it. I'd wet a washcloth and lay it over my face.

I've read, but haven't tried, using a half and half solution of vinegar and water in the nasal rinse for chronic sinusitis. This was after multiple rounds of antibiotics had failed.
posted by lysdexic at 7:32 PM on June 30, 2007

The only thing that works for me for sinus problems (which I get constantly due to terrible allergies) is the following:

1. Actual pseudoephedrine (you will have to ask for it at the pharmacy counter).
2. Mucinex (this is a super dose of guaifenesin, do not be scared that it says it's for chest congestion, this is one of the biggest helpers).
3. A shit ton of water (help the Mucinex clear your shit out).

After going back to my doctor twice for my last serious sinus infection, she recommended using Mucinex in addition to my regular decongestant. The Mucinex helps to loosen up the built up mucus, the water will help to thin it out. I cannot state enough how important it is to drink tons of water when taking Mucinex.

Also, NyQuil is completely useless - since pseudoephedrine was taken off the shelves, they changed the formula so it does nearly nothing for congestion OR to help you sleep. I take the Mucinex + Pseudoephedrine earlier in the day, and then take a Bayer Nighttime before bed.

Obviously I'm not a doctor and I'm not necessarily saying this is the right treatment for you, but it works for me. If you get no relief, you should set up an appt with an ENT. Good luck & feel better.
posted by tastybrains at 7:58 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second the recommendation for Sinus Buster. It's serious business and it works.

I also recommend acupuncture. They'll work your feet and the front of your calf and parts of your face. I guarantee you'll walk out of there without a headache.

And massage can really help sinus problems too.
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 9:06 PM on June 30, 2007

I have pretty much constant sinus infections, and from what I understand from my ENT, amoxicillin for a sinus infection is pretty close to worthless.

I have been fighting frequent and recurring sinus infections for years. The ONLY thing that helps get rid of sinus headaches is at least 120 mg of pseudoephedrine. The Sudafed 12 hour (or pharmacy generic equivalent) from behind the counter is pretty much my lifesaver...

It took years to figure it out, but luckily some new OTC stuff has come around that is really helpful. For me, 120 mg of pseudoephedrine, one Mucinex DM (like tastybrains said), one anthihistamine of some sort (I switch between Claritin or Chlor-Trimeton), and one ibuprofen is the only way I will ever get any sleep when my sinuses act up. I highly recommend it.
posted by gemmy at 9:11 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I hate seeing people suffering with sinus problems - I do myself, and it's damned unpleasant. I've found icepacks to be a big help with the headaches, and the only thing to really help is taking Reactine (in Canada - it's known as Zyrtec in the U.S.) and occasionally Benydril. I take the Reactine every day during allergy season, and even then I still get the odd killer sinus headache. The SinusBuster/Capasicin looks interesting - I'm going to try it myself. Sometimes I wish I could just inject some wasabi up my sinuses myself...

I second the recommendation for the ENT - they can be a big help as well in terms of other tips, although they really pushed the ol' 'nasal spray and neti pot' solution, which doesn't really address the problem. After 11 days of sinus issues, do go see a doctor. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
posted by rmm at 10:13 PM on June 30, 2007

I third the recommendation for the ENT. The only doctor who actually took my sinus problems seriously and kept trying things until we found something that worked. For infection, antibiotic. Flonase and Zyrtec worked the best for me. I find that lying down and putting a heating pad on my face makes the pain in my face and head feel better.
posted by la petite marie at 10:29 PM on June 30, 2007

Augmentin is what my sinus doc prescribed me. he explained that the sinuses don't have much circulation so amox. won't help much. Once he had to actually irrigate my sinus. He sprayed a numbing agent up my nose, then took a very long, very nasty looking needle and poked it through the thin layer of bone underneath my sinus. he said it was like an eggshell. I could definitely feel/hear it pop through the bone but it wasn't painful. He then ran some pressurized water into the hole and a big green ball of snot/mucus popped out. God it felt great. Instant relief. The only thing that helped me over the long term were allergy shots. Old books, clothes, closets will still make me miserable. Avoid them at all costs.
posted by vronsky at 10:40 PM on June 30, 2007

Amoxycillin is usually the first drug prescribed and often takes care of things. However, many bugs are now resistant. You probably just need to move up the chain a bit. Augmentin might be next, or perhaps something different. Whatever, please make sure that you take the full course of the drug so as not to make a nice breeding ground for drug resistant bacteria. Call your doctor.
posted by caddis at 11:56 PM on June 30, 2007

Welcome to my life, it can really suck at times.

Keep up with the Neti Pot, and make sure you are cleaning it well with soap after each use. You can reinfect yourself with it if you aren't careful.

Find yourself some Eucalyptus oil. I use a brand that comes in the form of towelettes called Herban Essentials that I get at Whole Foods, but I'm sure you can find it elsewhere. The towelettes are nice because I can make a nice Eucalyptus steam bowl or just breathe it in from the towel. It has done wonders for me, and apparently besides making your sinus' and throat feel better it helps aid in killing bacteria.

After helping yourself at home with that, make an appointment with an ENT.
posted by trishthedish at 5:18 AM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a similar infection this year (nasonex, amoxicillin, all that). What finally got the impacted crap out was a series of steam room visits at my gym.

I felt better after the first one (half an hour) and after the third one, in the car on the way home, I felt a little something in the back of my throat. So I did all the contortions in my head and pushed on my sinuses and then EURKEA! THE MOTHER LODE!

I'll spare you the description of the stuff I pulled out, but I was impressed. And glad that I had a stack of Dunkin Donuts napkins in the glove box.

I've been draining normally since.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:08 AM on July 1, 2007

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