Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sinuses from Hell

Whoah! Before I even started writing this post, I searched Wikipedia. So, let me be perfectly clear, I am writing about paranasal sinuses, not anal sinuses. Trust me, the discussion will be miserable enough without bringing rectums (recta?) into the matter. [DO NOT google images for anal sinuses. Holy moley, human anatomy is a gruesome thing.]


I've been thinking of writing about my sinuses for a while, because they are a major fixture in my life. But I've refrained because it's really a gross topic and possibly falls into the category of "overshare."

But tonight, I blew my nose while I was eating. Apparently, I had not finished swallowing my very peppery steak. A small piece of said steak made its way into my sinuses. As if the pepper was not misery enough, I could smell and feel that darned piece of medium-rare beef until I finally, er, expelled it.

It was just one more fine moment in the history of me and my sinuses.

When I was young, I used to get headaches at the end of each day. I also had copious amounts of snot. Evidently, I had allergies, as did my mother. She medicated hers; I suffered mine.

That was back in the days before non-drowsy antihistamines, so it's probably just as well. I would have slept through most of my school years.

As an adult, I suffered through recurring sinus infections until I finally went to the doctor for antibiotics. I would be well for a couple of weeks, then the mucus would turn green and ....

Sometimes (especially during pregnancy when the mucus is more profuse and thicker), the mucus dripping down the back of my throat would trigger my sensitive gag reflex. I have vomited into my maternity underpants (very capacious, thankfully) in the staff washroom at school, into my lap and ashtray and coffee mug in the car, and all down the front of my best wool coat. (Try explaining THAT to the dry cleaners. Frankly, I almost threw it out, but I loved that coat. They had to call me and explain that regular dry cleaning would never get the smell out; they would have to wet-clean it. )

One time, I was having a drip-attack when I rear-ended another car on icy roads.

Another time, I was trying desperately NOT to hurl when Katie, then about four years old, started mimicking my pre-vomit huuuurks.

"Stop!" I yelled between huuuurks, "Do you want Mommy to throw up?" She did it again. Yeah. I puked. (Kids. They win every time.)

Eventually, I had sinus surgery to open a blocked duct somewhere. My surgeon promised me that I would feel so much better after the surgery. It didn't happen.

I continued seeing doctors when the pain and gunge became too much. I was x-rayed, CT scanned and flashlit*. I practiced a regimen of steroid sprays and antihistamines, saline spritzes and facial saunas. Finally, I saw another specialist who said that there was nothing to be done surgically or medically, but (almost as an aside) suggested I try a sinus rinse.

I'd tried "rinses" in the past - bottles that spritzed saline solution into my sinus cavities. But he was talking about what I prefer to call a sinus WASH: spraying or pouring 250 cc of saline solution into my sinuses.
I love you, NeilMed Sinus Rinse.
It was pretty much the grossest thing I could imagine or experience, short of an enema (and here we are, back at the anal sinus). But let me tell you: it works. It is still revolting, even after years of using it at least daily (more often if I have a cold or sinus infection).

Though I am still prone to sinus infections, I haven't needed antibiotics for them in a couple of years. It rarely ever gets so bad that I toss my cookies. It's cheap. It doesn't contribute to super-strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

I'm almost evangelical about this stuff. How could I NOT be? Heck, it even works on steak.

*Yes, one old-timer doctor closed all the blinds, turned off the lights, stepped closer to me, (I started to worry), then pressed a bright flashlight against my skull. From that he could see how full my sinuses were.

Note: This is not a solicited or paid endorsement.


  1. Yup, yup, and yup. Been there, done that. Sinus surgery, pregnancy hurling, and all. Also love the NeilMed Sinus Rinse!

  2. I use a neti pot (also by NeilMed) when I have a cold to help clean out my sinuses. Feels like I'm swimming :)

  3. Maybe I should try this. I spent yet another night last night lying on one side, as sinus drained and pain moved over until I couldn't stand it and flipped sides. When it all slid back to side A, and the pain moved over again. I'd like to have it just LEAVE.

  4. @ Raeanne - I have other friends who use the Neti Pot, but I like the extra oomph the squirter gives.

    @ K.B. - definitely try it. Don't forget to put the salt in. You will be amazed. (I hate that sensation of the snot sliding from one side to the other. I think it's even grosser than seeing what the sinus rinse washes out.)

  5. I have also use netipot, sinus pulse system, nasal drops, but I really feel good and effective when I used Neil Med. It's quick effect is more than others.
    -sinus flush


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