Monday, January 13, 2014

Sinuses from Hell, Part 2

Have you ever heard of tincture of benzoin? I hadn't until a spate of sinus infections prompted my Aunt Winkie to recall that her mother used to put a few drops of benzoin in a pot of steaming water and inhale it to fight sinus infections.

I thought I'd give it a try, so I stopped by Rainbow Foods and the drug store. No one carried it. So I ordered it from Amazon, along with a facial sauna. (Standing over the stove is not my idea of relaxation or fun.)

The sauna includes a measurer that corresponds to the amount of time you want to steam. I chose 15 minutes, dropped in 1 mL of the benzoin, then settled in for a good facial.

The sauna is very relaxing and actually was a good opportunity to meditate (since I couldn't read or play on my iPad). So I got comfortable and breathed in.

The smell is a cross between vanilla and medicinal. Though Winkie found it quite off-putting, I did not. By the end of 15 minutes when the sauna turned itself off (having run out of water), I was ready to wipe up and get on with my day.
Fifteen minutes of staring at this is ENOUGH.
My skin loved it, and my sinuses felt soothed. Unfortunately, it did not cure my sinus infection. I'm now on my fourth round of antibiotics since September.

After last winter's round of sinus infections my doctor did two things:
  • Put me on a three-week round of antibiotics
  • Referred me to an ear-nose-throat specialist
The three weeks seemed to break the cycle until this fall.

The specialist referred me to an allergist, whom I finally saw last week. Diagnosis: I'm allergic to cats and dust mites.

Oh, dear.
Cats? But she sleeps ON MY BED! I'm in love with her!

So I'll be doing "the shots," immunotherapy by weekly injections for a period of time. I really hope that this helps my sinuses achieve some degree of non-inflammation.

In the meantime, I've got my nasal steroid spray and my benzoin sauna to help out. Wish me luck.


  1. The nasal shots are mine too. I'm allergic to Monty. The allergist was very upset to hear the dog sleeps with me and there is no way that is changing anytime soon.

    1. My doc asked how old the cat was, implying that its days are numbered. It's not THAT old!

  2. Hmm. I'm allergic to the same. Thankfully, I don't get infections though, just sneeze - a lot! Which is annoying, but not as bad as what I'm sure you've been going through. I've been trying some homeopathic solutions and was on another supplement for inflammation (because at it's worst, the inside of my nose was terribly inflamed). Anyway, I've tried a lot of things, but what I'm doing now seems to be giving me the best results. Glad to hear you're doing better too!

    Also, please oh please tell me you're taking some probiotic supplements to counteract all those antibiotics. I don't like to prod in others' business, but just from my case studies, I've seen what they can do it upset gut flora - but probiotics are the answer!

  3. If you find something that works, do let me know! I'm trying to find more homeopathic ways to treat chronic infections as well. I finally saw an ENT myself and have a follow-up this week after an initial visit (in which the doctor vacuumed my sinuses... with no numbing!) and a CT scan. He put me on a round of antibiotics and will see what things look like when I return this week. I never thought about an allergist. Might be something to look into. Jason gets the shots for his allergies (cat, dog, dust, pollen... every single thing they tested for INCLUDING cockroaches) and they definitely help him.

    1. NO NUMBING?????

      Allergies are worth looking into, especially if you (like me) keep needing antibiotics. The facial sauna probably helps loosen the mucus as well. From a cosmetic perspective, it's supposed to moisturize and open pores.

  4. Yes, it's been round after round after round of antibiotics. After the ENT visit, we've decided to go ahead with a second sinus surgery. Joy. But I actually think it will help a lot. Before this past spring, the last time I needed IV antibiotics was BEFORE my last sinus surgery (in 2008). I was told at that time that this would likely be "routine" for me. It's not a fun procedure, but I've been through worse. And 5 years of improved health is worth it, right?

    1. I was fortunate that the first surgery solved the blockage problem and I haven't developed any polyps. Hope your surgery and recovery go well.

  5. I love allergy shots. OK, the actual shots are a nuisance (bring a good book or articles to read-- there's the wait until they can take you; my GP took me between patients so that wasn't too bad-- then the 30 min wait after. Also, wear a cami/t-shirt with a cardigan/jacket/bolero-- if they can access your arm easily, you don't need to go into the patient room... I perched on a stool by the fridge, making it really quick). But oh, the relief they bring!!! I've seriously considered sending valentines day crds to the serum manufacturer

    1. Thanks for the advice. I should start my shots sometime in the next couple of weeks.


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