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  • sinus headaches and congestion, but no infection

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    Old 02-26-2003, 05:03 PM   #1
    purple2067
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    Post sinus headaches and congestion, but no infection

    Hello all.

    This is a cross post from the headache board.

    Since I was about 10 years old I have been having terrible sinus problems. When I was 12 I had surgery to remove a polyp from my left maxillary sinus when I was 12. Since then my sinus problems had been much much better. I would maybe get one or two infections a year, instead of 10 or 12 infections a year! So I was thinking that everything was going well. I'm 22 now, and have started having really bad sinus headaches again over the past few months. I have just begun student teaching in an elementary school, so I know that I am picking up all kinds of germs.

    Here is the problem now. Since about December of last year, I have been getting sinus infections very frequently. Or possibly just one infection that never went away. In late December I saw my Ear Nose and Throat specialist who put me on the anti-biotic Levaquin for 10 days. It seemed to have worked. But then in the middle of January I got another infection. I saw my primary care physician (had an appointment with him for something else, so while I was there he looked in my sinuses). He gave me the anti-biotic Avelox for 10 days. That really didn't work. By that time my throat was starting to hurt really badly too. So, I went back to my PCP and he said that he didn't want to be the one to continue to treat me for this, because an ENT specialist would know better what to do. So I went back and saw my ENT. He ordered a sinus CT Scan and he cultured my nose and throat. Much to my surprise, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with my sinuses! At least, nothing showed up on the scan. The only problem that they found is that I've got an impacted wisdom tooth up in my sinuses. But that has been there for years. So, the throat/nose culture came back and apparently I now have some form of Strep. I am now on 500mg of Ceftin twice a day for 5 days. Then if I still don't feel any better I have to go back and see the ENT dr again. I have also had a low grade fever (99.5-100) on and off for about the last month. I only started on the Ceftin yesterday, but it does seem that the fever is starting to go away.

    I don't mean to gross anybody out, but I also have to tell you that I am constantly coughing up green, yellow, and sometimes brown mucus. I also have the same colors coming out of my nose! My nose is extremely congested and I am constantly dizzy and have a lot of pressure in and around my nose and above my eyes. I never knew that strep could cause all of this! My dr is a little difficult to understand because he speaks with an accent and is very soft spoken. He gave me the results of the culture over the phone, and I think I may have heard him say something about infected adenoids or strep in the back of my nose (if this is possible). But if I don't have any sinus problems (as proven by the scan), then what the heck is this all from? http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/confused.gif

    I am not currently taking any sort of oral anti-histamines or decongestants, because I can't. I have extremely severe dry eyes and could possibly develop an eye ulcer (already had one of those!) if I take anything that could potentially dry me out like an anti-histamine or decongestant. I may end up having to take one just to get rid of this once and for all, but I really really don't want to. I am using the nasal spray Astelin, 2 sprays in each nostril once a day, as well as a saline nasal spray several times a day and also a saline nasal gel to keep my nose moisturized so I don't get the nose bleeds that have become so common with me. (I sometimes wake up in the morning with a bloody nose!) I sleep with a warm air humidifier on in my bedroom because of the dry eye problem. It has done wonders for my eyes, but I am wondering if it has in any way harmed my sinuses due to the excess humidity. It is a germ free, mold free, dust free humidifier (it's got special absorption pads and a UV light to prevent the germs and mold). I also use an air purifier in the bedroom at night when I sleep, and I have allergy covers on all of my pillows and my mattress.

    But I still have these persistant sinus headaches and all of this congestion! What do I do? If anyone has any suggestions for me, please help!

    Thank you so much,
    Elyse
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    Old 02-28-2003, 10:19 AM   #2
    dawn2
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    Purple:

    You certainly have had your share of sinus problems. I can tell you that strep can attack anywhere and it really causes problems. I don't understand why your cat scan was clear. It probably showed some thickening of the mucous in the lower part where it drains, but you would only read that on the cat scan report. Perhaps the strep has caused your sinuses and mucous membranes to swell (and if you have any allergies this would add to swelling also). All this swelling slows down the process of the sinuses draining. The average person drains 2 quarts of mucous daily. If you have allergies, then quite a bit more. That's a lot of mucous to drain. Also, if you are seeing discoloration and running a fever, there is infection - strep being your culprit. Strep can be difficult to get rid of as only certain antibiotics will kill it and sometimes takes several attempts. In the meantime, any reducing of swelling will help with drainage and hopefully you will be able to get out more mucous when you blow. I can't take any antihistimines either because it dries me out so much. I also have the dry eyes, dry mouth, and dry nasal(it bleeds frequently). For me what has helped is reducing my heat. (I know it must get pretty cold in your area). Heat makes things expand and cooling helps things constrict. I keep my heat under 67 at all times. At night I lower it to 60. I have tried the humidifiers you speak of, but I gained more reduction in nasal swelling by using a cool mist humidifier. I keep one for the living area right by my chair. I can tell the difference when I move away from it. I got one for the bedroom also and keep it next to me about 2/3 feet away. My ent gave me a prescrption for Guaifenex which reduces swelling without drying. I have found it to make a difference. I also use Nasonex which helps too. When I get bleeding in the nose, I put a little vaseline (advised by my ENT) on the area with a Q-tip, but you can't go too deep. Somedays I have to put it on several times. Just the heat running in the car will dry my nose and eyes out in 15-20 minutes and dry my eyes and make my nasal membranes bleed. When your turbinates are swollen, it blocks the normal moisturing and humidifying in your nose. I would say your on the right path and you could always call the radiology dept. to get a copy of your cat scan for yourself or even from your ent. Just say you want a copy. Good luck and hope you feel better. Dawn2

     
    Old 02-28-2003, 04:46 PM   #3
    purple2067
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    Thanks for all the helpful advice. You seem very knowledgeable about all of this! I have been on Ceftin for about 3 days now, and I do seem to be feeling a little better. I don't think I have a fever anymore, and my throat and head do not seem to be as bad. Although, I am a student teacher and today I taught for the entire day, so this caused my throat to be quite soar by the end of the day. I am only going to be on the anti-biotic for 2 more days, which kinda concerns me because usually when somebody has strep, isn't the usual dose 7 days or longer? I can't keep taking anti-biotics because I have very bad stomach problems. But I do take acidophilus regularly to help with that, and my GI dr said that he would give me Flagyll if the Ceftin causes any problems. The problem with being on so many anti-biotics is that they also prohibit the growth of GOOD bacteria in the intestinal tract.

    I really hope that this one dose of Ceftin will kill everything. I am getting most of the stuff out of my nose, and I don't really feel as congested anymore. But I still have some laryngitis and anything that I do cough up is still green. My concern is that by the time the Ceftin really starts to work, I'm going to be finished with it. Do I call the dr and ask for another 3-5 days of it, since it does seem to be working? Maybe he can just give me a lower dose of it. I'll have to ask about Guaifenex. But my ophthalmologist has to give me permission first! LOL! We keep the heat pretty low in my house, usually around 68. But in the school that I work in, they have to keep it pretty warm for the kids. I find that the warm air humidifier is best for me, because it does not produce dust, mold, etc... all of which I am majorly allergic to!

    As for asking for a copy of the scan, I don't really think I need to at this moment, because since my ENT specialist operates in that hospital, he makes frequent trips down to radiology and he looked at my films. Also, if I do need them there won't be ANY problem at all! My mom just recently retired from the radiology department at that hospital. Everybody there is her friend, including the drs, and they all know me! Whenever I have to get an X-Ray or any sort of scan, I always make mom call for the appointment! My friends always wonder how I seem to get appointments so much quicker than anyone else! My mom called and got the report over the phone, and the radiologist said there is not even any mucosal thickening or swelling!

    I think it all has to be from the strep infection. I mean, who knows how long I had it for before my throat actually started to hurt. It could have been sitting in my nose for weeks.

    Have you ever tried using a Neti pot to cleanse your sinuses? I have heard a lot of good things about that.

    Thanks again,
    Elyse

     
    Old 03-01-2003, 01:34 PM   #4
    dawn2
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    Purple:
    Well, let's just say with all the allergies I have along with vasomotor rhinitis and adrenal dysfunction, my sinuses have had it's share of problems! My experiences with sinus infections has educated me! That's good that there is no thickening where it drains. I have the same problems with stomach and antibiotics do kill off all bacteria. I tried taking the priobiotics (the good bacteria) and my stomach can't handle that so I just eat yogurt 3/4 times a week with live cultures. As far as how long on the antibiotic - it varies. There are new antibiotics out there that you don't take as long. I'm not familiar with what your on. I would see how you do and watch your temperature as a clue. If the mucous keeps moving and you remain without a fever, I'd saying you're doing good. If the strep isn't totally killed off, you now know what to look for. I would think doing the neti-pot would be a good thing. I do use one and it also soothes the nasal membranes along with keeping things moving which is good so bacteria does not have the chance to build up.It does take some getting use to at first. It also help clear out the allergens too. I'm highly allergic to mold, dust, dander, chemicals, and foods. I do have to be faithful about cleaning the humidifier because of the chance of mold. I can't use the chemical to clean it either. My doc said to be sure to be thorough in cleaning it regularly and be sure it's dry before I restart. If what you're using now works, then stick with it! Glad you're mom has an in with the med field - it sure helps! Good luck and I'm glad you're making progress. Dawn2

     
    Old 03-02-2003, 11:15 AM   #5
    purple2067
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    Wow, you sound like me! You have certainly had your share of sinus problems! I used to be very badly allergic to a lot of foods when I was a child, but when I became a teenager I pretty much grew out of all of my food allergies. Or so I think. I used to get "female problems" from my food allergies when I was a child. Now I don't get that anymore, but I am wondering if they have possibly just moved from one part of my body to another and manifested themselves somewhere else. Although, that theory is probably wrong. My allergist tested me for all of the foods, and I am not allergic to them anymore. He also put me on a strict yeast free, sugar free diet thinking that maybe if I could avoid eating any of the foods that I used to be allergic to, maybe some of my eye and sinus problems would get better. It never happened though, and I just could not live on a diet of all protein and no carbs. It brought back nightmares from when I was a kid and had to go to school with hamburgers on rice cakes for lunch! It still makes me cringe! But at least back then I was allowed to eat some carbs!

    I am however, highly allergic to dust and mold. I cannot use cleaning products because the smells give me a headache and hurt my eyes very badly. I also get terrible headaches from the dust getting stirred up when I clean. Sometimes I clean using a pledge grab-it cloth, and that seems to work better. But most of the time I just get somebody else to do it for me! Right now I still live at home, so mom cleans for me. (I'm 22) But in a year or so when I move out, I'm gonna have to get a cleaning service to come in once a week! People think that I'm spoiled, but it's just because I can't tolerate it! When I was a teenager I used to work in a hair salon running errands and cleaning up. I used to dust the product shelves with windex and mr. clean. I used to come home with such bad sinus headaches that I couldn't pick my head up off the pillow for 3 days! Finally I started wearing a dust mask on my face when I cleaned, and that seemed to help. But I eventually had to stop working there. It's bad enough that I have to go in there for haircuts and be around all that hair and hair products!

    We use a mixture of white vinegar and bleach to clean my humidifier. Then we just wrinse it really really well before I use it again. This one only needs to be cleaned about once every 7-10 days or so. I really like it.

    I called my dr and told him that I am JUST starting to feel better (no fever but still had a very bad sore throat and laryngitis along with headaches and lots of chunky colored mucus) Sorry, didn't mean to be gross! But anyway, I told him that if I am only STARTING to feel better, and I only have one more day left of the anti-biotic, what is going to happen when I get off of it? I told him I didn't think 5 days is enough. So he gave me another 5 days of the Ceftin, and he said if I still don't feel 100% after that, then I have to come back in and see him again because he doesn't want to just keep prescribing anti-biotics. The thing is, my immune system is very very weak right now because I am student teaching in an elementary school and I am getting exposed to all of these germs that are somewhat new to me. Everyone says that for the first few years of teaching, all that you do is get sick. I must wash my hands with anti-bacterial soap 10 or 15 times a day! I have to be very careful because I have severe eye problems and can't afford to get pink eye from the kids! So, I am constantly washing my hands. I can't eat yogurt because I am lactose intolerant. So the pro-biotics and acidophilus work well for me. For the pro-biotic, I take Culturelle, which has natural digestive aids in it. My GI dr recommended it.

    How does the Neti pot work? I know that you pour it into your nose, but what kind of solution do you use? And also, when you pour it into your nose, where does it go? Does it come out your mouth? I know that whenever I use any sort of nasal spray, I can always taste it in my mouth, and the saline goes right through my nose and I wind up spitting it out of my mouth. A lot of mucus also comes out with it though, so that's good.

    Thanks for all the info,
    Elyse

    [This message has been edited by purple2067 (edited 03-02-2003).]

     
    Old 03-03-2003, 06:02 AM   #6
    dawn2
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    Purple:

    I'm glad you called your doc and he gave you another dose of anti. He sounds like he is watching out for you good cause next time he wants to see you if you're not feeling right. As far as your throat goes, loosing your voice...the voice box gets swollen and can take awhile for the inflammation to come down. Since you are probably talking quite a bit with teaching, it will slow down the healing process a little. Rest and fluids for the voice box is the best thing. You may find on the weekends, that at the end of the weekend, your throat might feel better. During the week, while teaching, it has little time to rest. (I've had that problem too! I lost my voice for almost 3 weeks - not even a sound came out!) My voice hasn't been the same since. The last cold I had was so bad that the virus destroyed the nasal membrane that sends the signal to the brain for taste - gone.

    I understand totally on cleaning products. They give me a headache too. I went to a natural food store and found something similar to cleaning like windex. It has no smell and I have no problem with it. I have to wear a mask when I do laundry or dusting. I can't even use the pledge. I just use a damp cloth. For cleaning the shower and tub, I use sos pads as they have no smell and scrub well. Do you get headaches from cooking smells? I have to cook foods out in the garage in the crockpot a lot of times it's so bad.

    The neti pot - you can make up your own solution which is...1 quart of distilled or boiled tap water, 1 tsp. of salt, and 1 tsp. of baking soda. Keep what you don't use in the fridge - no longer than 14 days. If you want to make a smaller portion...1 cup of distilled or boiled water, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and 1/4 tsp. of baking soda. The problem with the larger batch is you will have to heat it up slightly so it's not so cold from the fridge. (It's best at room temperature.)I tried all of that, but found it easier to get it pre-mixed. My allergist carries it and it's also sold on the internet. If you do a search for sinus cleansing - you might find it. How it works - you tilt your head slightly forward with the spout in the nostril and slightly lean your head to the nostril that the solution should be flowing out of - you slowly pour the solution into the nostril and it should come out slowly from the other nostril. If you find it's going down your throat, slow down the pouring. I have that problem when I'm really stuffed. Sometimes, I end up coughing and have to stop and restart. I also try to block my throat with my tongue by pushing it back.

    I'll have to check out that pro-biotic you mentioned. I've been on those same diets you spoke of and it didn't do a thing. It was very difficult. I've been on two rotation diets (each time my bloodwork results are different) and nothing has helped. I go to my allergist at the end of this month. He's new as my old one left town. This guy is suppose to be very good. I'm hoping he can help me.

    Working with children certainly does expose you to many viruses and strep. I use to work with the public too, but I can't anymore due to all my problems (have fibro too). When I get sick, it takes a long time for me to get over it and the pain from the fibro has put a holt to a lot of things. Washing your hands is the most efficient way of avoiding colds, etc. Only problem is when you are close to the kids and they cough - if you're within 6 feet....anything that comes your way into your eyes, nose, or mouth will likely cause you to get sick. You will find after the first couple of years, your system will be able to fight off a lot more. Good luck in your student teaching. dawn2

     
    Old 03-03-2003, 10:52 AM   #7
    purple2067
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    Thanks for the info on the neti pot. I'm going to take a ride over to the health food store one day this week. I think they carry them. They might even sell the sinus cleanser that you mentioned. They've got a huge holisitic section. I'm not into holistic medicine, but I think they will carry it. It's worth a try. It can't hurt.

    Today I actually decided to stay home from student teaching because I think the anti-biotic is doing a number on my stomach. I felt fine when I woke up but then I ate breakfast (apple cinnamon oatmeal and some decaf tea) and I got dressed, and as I was on my way out the door I got the mother of all stomachaches! I actually had to have my mom call the school for me and tell them that I wouldn't be in today! I hate having to miss a day, but I didn't want to be running to the bathroom every 3 seconds. Plus, I think the strep is still affecting me a little bit because as soon as I came out of the bathroom I fell back to sleep! I was so tired! Unfortunately I have 2 classes tonight at the college, and I really can't afford to miss them. So I'll have to take enough medicine for my stomach, and just go. You know, even though I take the acidophilus and the Culturelle, when I'm taking an anti-biotic nothing helps! I wish I could eat yogurt, but it would probably make my stomach worse! Plus, it is a dairy product and that produces more mucus. I'm still coughing up a lot, but today it doesn't seem to be colored. Maybe it's finally going away.

    As for having to talk all day, in the morning my throat feels fine, but in the afternoon I feel like I can hardly utter a sound! I told the kids "Ms. B has a really bad sore throat, so you need to really listen well and not talk so that I don't have to yell over you". It seems to work with them! They think they're helping me! I wish there was some way to avoid the airborne germs. I try to flush my eyes out with tear drops several times a day so that the germs don't stay in there for too long, and I drink water all day. But if I'm going to get sick, I'm going to get sick. I can't avoid it.

    I don't actually have to do all that much cleaning because like I said, I still live at home and my mom does it (or she gets a cleaning girl to come in) but the smells still make me sick. I also hate the smell of certain foods. Last night my mom cooked duck (I wasn't home to eat it though) and today she is soaking the pots that she used. I'll tell ya...the combination of the smell of the duck and the smell of the oil and soap that is in the pots is really making me want to throw up. I asked her to just get rid of it already, but she said she has to soak the pots to get them clean! I can't even walk into the kitchen! It's so gross! The smell of meat bothers me too. I don't even like to eat steak or red meat anymore because it makes me nauseous.

    I really hope that this second dose of anti-biotics is all that it takes to get rid of this strep. I can't be on it anymore! Look what it is doing to my stomach! This is insane! The Astelin nasal spray that I am using seems to be helping my sinuses. Although, it has such a nasty taste that I want to puke when I use it! It is the worst tasting medicine I have ever had to take in my life! There is just no way to describe how bad it is! Can't they give these things a grape flavor?

    If I have a deviated septom (which I do) will that make a difference in how well the neti pot works? Will it affect how well the solution is able to get from one nostril to the other?

     
    Old 04-12-2003, 09:47 AM   #8
    Noah
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    I think the neti pot is an indian thing--do a Google search on it, and you will find it discussed by yoga people. You can also use a spray bottle. There are websites that promote nasal rinsing. And there is an ENT who makes an attachment to the water pik. The machine gently pumps the water into your nose. I think the bottle is a little easier to deal with. It can really help wash out mucous and make you feel like you're doing something to help your symptoms.

     
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