Tag Archive | sinus rinsing

Of all the things I’m bad at, breathing is at the top of the list!

Asthma. I have had it pretty well under control… until this week. I’ve been suffering the granddaddy of all asthma attacks all week and now also have oral thrush. Really?!! Because of course I do. I finally gave in and went to urgent care today because my peak flow was hovering around 150.  My personal best for all you knowing asthma sufferers is between 480 and 500. For those of you not in the know, we people who suck at breathing have to stay on top of this and have an action plan in place for what to do as the numbers drop that goes something like this and In this order:  emergency inhalers, breathing treatments, urgent care, emergency room then ambulance. To put this in perspective for you, I was floating between needing the urgent care and emergency room and not quite yet an ambulance. And because I’m stubborn, had I not let my husband talk me into urgent care there was going to be an ambulance in my near future. Because I’m dumb and stubborn.

Actually that’s not completely true. Those of us who suck at breathing always second guess ourselves. Is this attack really that severe? Am I going to look stupid going to the ER or calling an ambulance? Am I making a big deal out of nothing and if I just relax it’ll go away? We’ve all been there. We also know how exhausting it is not being able to breathe. I explained it to my husband like this: I feel like I have an elephant standing on my chest and I can only manage short breaths and those short breaths hurt and are laborious which exhaust me. It’s like I’m slowly suffocating and can’t get enough air. And then I panic which makes it worse. And asthma is serious folks. You can DIE from it.  And yet we tell ourselves not us. Mine isn’t THAT bad. This attack isn’t THAT bad. But let’s face it. At this point we are oxygen deprived and shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions on our own. Right? That’s why it’s important to share with a trusted friend or loved one the warning signs and your action plan so they make sure you get the help you need and quickly.

I am now back home after spending the morning at Urgent Care. The doctor asked if I’m a nurse because I’m so knowledgeable about my illness and health and what I need to feel better. I told him I’m well-versed and have found it makes Dr. Visits more efficient by me staying organized and up-to-date on my health. He agreed and said it was making treating me easier and faster. He was able to get me a breathing treatment quickly with the right medicine and dosage that would work for me as well as the barrage of inhalers and drugs I’ll need for the next week or so. Including prednisone. Ugh! On top of asthma I also have chronic ABPA (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis) so my lungs are damaged. While I was weaned of prednisone and have been in remission I know there will be times when I will need a prednisone burst to get over the hump. And as much as I hate prednisone, I’m quite knowledgeable  in how to survive it. I picked up a very strong probiotic (VSL3), stocked up on kombucha and licorice tea and am steeping astragalus root in my tea. I will also make sure I give my body plenty of rest the next few days. And, most important, to take my prednisone in the morning so it does NOT affect my sleep. All things I’ve learned after being on prednisone for 9 years (been weaned off since January). I will also behave and do breathing treatments every 3-4 hours for the next few days.

And I rushed home to tell you all of this because what I really wanted to share with you is, one, the importance of listening to your body and, two, the importance of understanding your health and the care you need and to be prepared for Dr visits- Keep a list of your current meds, and any allergies and what has and has not worked in the past. It is important you take an active role in your care. Ask questions. Make sure you understand all instructions and that you have everything you need before you leave. If your Dr forgot to prescribe something. Say something! Honest, it’s ok! It’s totally ok! Because in the end, your health is your responsibility.

And now that the shakes have stopped from my treatment I’m going to take a nap.

May the breathing gods ever be in your favor!

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Making it through illness without prednisone or antibiotics

Before when I would get sick, I would go downhill so quickly the doctors would pump me up full of prednisone and antibiotics. In fact because I came to know the drill so well, they gave me refills on my antibiotics and prednisone so I could self treat. Because, they said it was the only way. Can’t make this stuff up…

Fast forward to now. Here I was with the flu and what I believe to have been a sinus infection. What to do… well I know what NOT to do and prednisone and antibiotics was not the answer. So here is how I’m handling things:

Sinus rinsing – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sinus rinsing is your friend. You can safely rinse your sinuses as many times a day as you need. See my blog post on sinus rinsing for more info/tips. I swear by it!

Fluids – Drink lots of fluids. Non alcoholic fluids that is… Water is really the best thing for you but add a little honey and some lemon and perfection! The honey is soothing for a cough and the lemon has antibacterial qualities. Plus the hot water will help to open your sinuses and thin the mucus which is more than likely causing your cough in the first place. I also like to add some green tea to the equation and drink lots of Magic Mineral Broth created by Rebecca Katz.

Probiotics – I take a daily probiotic. A doctor friend of mine recommended inner-eco and I love it. You can find it in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store or at Whole Foods. When I feel I’m getting sick and need an extra boost of probiotic, I switch to VSL-3. It’s a bit pricey and you need a prescription from your doctor but I have found it to give my body the extra boost it needs. I buy the cachets and mix in my smoothies. I also drink kombucha. I prefer the kombucha with chia seeds when I’m sick. It just feels soothing on my throat.

Supplements – I’m on a daily regimen and you can read more about what I take by going to an earlier blog post. However when sick, I bump things up a notch and add in more vitamin C, drink turmeric milk and GI Revive. I also make sure my smoothies have a boost by adding chia and gelatin, as well as lemon juice. This is when I drink my healing smoothies.

Rest – I’m one to tell you about rest but it really is important and something I’ve had to learn. Make sure to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. For the first time ever I actually spent the weekend in bed and willingly. I’ve been working out with a trainer and working out hard up to my getting sick. And while exercise is important, so is rest.

Amazingly and for the first time, my body is doing its job and fighting back. And without prednisone and antibiotics as the first option like before. Now there is a time and a place for both and there will be times I will need one or the other or both because of my condition. But, if I can boost my immune system enough to lessen an infection, I also lessen my need for either medication. That’s a win/win in my book!

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Body, mind and spirit

It appears I have a raging fungal infection in my sinuses and am developing another round of oral thrush. Because, of course I do. All stress-related, I’m sure. Fortunately, I know what to do when this happens so I’ve bumped up my supplements and probiotic intake and am drinking lots of water and herbal tea to flush this out.  And then there’s the sinus rinsing.  Lots and lots of sinus rinsing.  I also bumped up my workout routine.  That may seem counter intuitive to you since I’m fighting off infection but it has been really great for me. I have a trainer pushing me and I feel so accomplished and strong after each workout.  Right now, it’s vital that I continue to push myself and fight mind, body, and spirit.

Body – During this time, I’ve been playing around with food. Now that I’m working out harder, I find I need more protein. My latest favorite is lettuce wraps.  How can something so easy be so fantastically wonderful?  Really, I’m addicted to them. And they are so portable.  I fill mine up with turkey, ham, peppers, a pickle, a little mustard and avocado…    And they are super easy to make: just lay out some parchment paper and then place your lettuce and start stacking your fillings.  And then roll, while tucking in your ends.  Once it is rolled, slice in two like a deli sandwich.  I can’t eat the whole thing, so this gives me two sandwiches.  And, they are filling.  If I feel like I need something else or something crunchy, I’ll have an apple. Snacks for me now consist of a hardboiled egg or maybe some tuna or walnuts.  I never realized how tasty plain walnuts are and the healthy fat is good for you. I’m also very deliberate with my breakfast as well, ensuring I have enough protein to tide me over until lunch.  And, water.  I drink lots and lots of water.  I’m lucky in that the women’s restroom is in very close proximity to my office, that’s how much water I consume each day.

Mind and Spirit – A weekend getaway to the ocean allowed me to clear my head and breathe and reflect. I was reminded I am strong in spirit. Maybe a little too strong in spirit because, on the way home from that trip, I registered for a 10k and my second half marathon. I’m also running a 12k in three months. I continue to push myself to run and swim because it makes me feel good – normal. And it’s my way to say to my illness “you aren’t going to win this battle. You are NOT getting the best of me.”

I swam Alcatraz a couple of years ago (850 of my closest friends and I jumped off the boat at Alcatraz and swam back). And I share this because that was THE hardest thing I’ve ever done. And now, when things get tough or I doubt myself, I remember what an amazing thing I accomplished and that no matter what I end up facing, I will do so with the same grace and determination.  Find that one thing which makes you feel strong and embrace it.  Hang on to it tightly and when the going gets tough, remind yourself you are strong, you can do this, whatever “this” happens to be. We all have that inner fight inside us.  We just have to believe enough in ourselves to listen and act upon it. If I can do it, so can you!

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Sinus rinsing, aka water torture

Sinus rinsing.  Yup, this will be some exciting stuff. Bet you are on the edge of your seat just filled with anticipation, aren’t you?  So, let’s talk getting rid of snot.

Have you ever been told to do a sinus rinse by your doctor?  Did you look at him and think he completely lost his mind and there is no way on this planet you will comply?  Or are you one of those people who are willing to try anything if it will make you feel better?  All of the above apply to me.

When I was first dealing with all the craziness of sinus infections and sinus surgeries, I was told to do sinus rinses regularly. I thought they were crazy and refused to comply.  And then my doctor got stern with me.  So I tried it.  OH. MY. GOD.  I hated it and I think I almost drowned!  I had water everywhere, except for where it should have been, which was up my nose.  But I’m no quitter and I tried again, this time with better results because I actually followed the directions.  Go figure. And I kept up with the rinsing and found that maybe they were on to something because it actually worked and I found some relief.  And (I’m warning you this is gross but…) there is something satisfying about seeing what was trapped in my head.  A kind of “So that’s why my head hurt so bad” kind of thing. And so I’m a believer.  And I’m always telling everyone else to try it and now I’m telling you.  Really, it works and is so much better for you than taking a bunch of medication which just masks your problem. Sinus rinsing decreases your symptoms naturally and safely. And that’s a winner in my book. And now my tips:

  • Make sure to always use distilled water. You can also use boiled tap water.  But never, EVER, use water straight from the tap.  So many germs and you don’t want to introduce those directly into your body.
  • Never use hot water.  I know this from experience.  It hurts.  Warm water is soothing but room temp is good too.  Cold?  Just don’t. Talk about brain freeze.  Again, trust me on this one.
  • Make sure you sanitize everything and often. You can just throw your neti-pot, sinus rinse bottle, etc. into the dishwasher. I usually just throw my stuff into a pot of water and boil and then air dry – just the same as you would do for bottle nipples.
  • Make sure to wash your hands BEFORE doing a sinus rinse.  You don’t want to contaminate your sanitized equipment. And this goes without saying, I hope, but use soap and make sure you really wash your hands.  Sing the ABC’s to yourself while you do it and then you’ll be sure your hands are clean.
  • Follow the directions included in your rinse kit of choice so you get optimal use.
  • Do NOT do a sinus rinse directly before bed. Make sure you allow enough time for your sinuses to properly drain.  Otherwise you are going to bed with warm fluid in your sinuses – a perfect breeding ground for infection.
  • Do NOT be alarmed when you bend over and water leaks out your nose.  I’ve had this happen hours after a rinse.  It happens. You’re not dying. I promise.
  • When travelling, I like to buy the pre-mixed rinses in a can (make sure it’s a rinse or irrigation and not a saline spray).  That way you aren’t dealing with finding ways to sanitize everything.  When we traveled to Ireland, I threw a bunch in my suitcase and didn’t have any problems.

While home sick last year, I saw an ad for and interesting nasal rinse contraption called Navage. http://www.navage.com/  It’s a suction-based nasal rinse which takes all the mess and “yuck” out of sinus rinsing. I decided I had to have it and am so glad I bought it.   I love it and it was worth every penny.  Just pop the salt tab in, add water and let the machine do the work for you.  I can even walk around and talk while doing it but that kind of freaks my family out. When I’m finished, I just throw all the pieces into the dishwasher and I’m done.

When do I rinse?  All the time!  Why do I rinse?  Because it works! When I’m sick, I’ll do a sinus rinse 3-4 times per day! I’ll be honest, I’m supposed to do it daily and I don’t.  But I know my body and when I need to step it up. The moment I feel the slightest of sinus pressure or stuffiness, I’m on it.  It’s also great during allergy season or if I’ve been out doing yard work because I can flush the allergens right out.  Really, I swear by sinus rinsing and am sorry I hadn’t complied earlier.  Give it a shot. It’s really not bad and you might find you enjoy it.  And, I promise, you won’t drown.