allergies, seasonal allergies, hay fever, sinus, sinusitis, sinus infection

So I’ve been on a long week’s hiatus because I was taken down by a NASTY SINUS INFECTION due to me not keeping up with my seasonal allergies.

Honestly, I know better.

This is my second season living in central Florida where the pollen count and forecast is projected as “High” on far more occasions than I am used to. Which naturally calls for runny nose, post nasal drip, and a side of congestion.

As last year was my first year being taken down by such seasonal allergies (that I never experienced before) it took a while – and a few sinus infections – before I finally out smarted the Hay Fever and came up with a treatment that worked for me. Of course it took me until the end of my allergy season to figure out such treatment plan, and by the time my allergy season came back around, I was out of practice.

With all that being said, and with 2 sinus infection take-downs this season versus the 4 to 6 I had experienced last season, I am here to share with you the allergy maintenance therapy that works for me (so long as I actually practice what I preach.)

Of course before I start with all these recommendations I must insert statement below:

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Now to the good and juicy material:

Keeping Your Allergies at Bay and Sinus Infections Away

Useful Information and Recommendations from an ER Nurse Who Suffers From Seasonal Allergies

So let’s first start with knowing your allergy season. Mine seems to start around October/November time and goes about 6-8 months into April/May. This is not an uncommon time to be struck by Hay Fever a.k.a. seasonal allergies. This is because this is when plants like grass and trees like to release their their pollen particles in order to fertilize other plants to make more plants (birds and the bees stuff right there). Outdoor molds will also release their spores in order to achieve the same outcome, more mold.

Now that I know when I am most susceptible to seasonal allergies it is important that I maintenance my airways and sinus passageways so that I don’t get plagued by sinus infections.

This is accomplished with antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids. For me I like to use Zyrtec and Flonase on a regular basis. I will take Zyrtec daily and use Flonase 3 times a week to daily depending on symptom severity. I just found that this combination works best for me.

Now, I am not at all claiming that these medications “cure” Hay Fever symptoms. These medications are simply used to treat the symptoms so that the runny nose and congestion don’t contribute to a sinus infection.

Science run down real fast:

Allergenic properties in the environment (ie. pet dander, dust, mold, pollen) can cause people who are susceptible to exhibit symptoms. These symptoms include runny nose, congestion, itchy/runny eyes, sneezing – to name a few. These symptoms are all caused by a release of histamines in the body generally caused by an inflammatory response by the body a.k.a. allergic reaction in this case.

It is important to treat these symptoms in order to keep your airways clean and clear so that they don’t become entrapped and built up with mucus. Bacteria LOVES to grow in those beautifully warm, dark, and moist places that your sinus cavities will become when they are clogged and unable to drain. And so the sinus infection ensues DUN DUN DUNNNN! (que in horror film music.)

Now there are some “more natural ways” to keep up with your allergies. I have tried some that have worked somewhat.

  • Local Honey – although there is no real scientific proof, local honey does contain small amounts of local pollen contaminant which is thought to help aid your body in the process of “healthy exposure.”
  • Essential oils in diffusers
  • Use of the neti-pot

Now when you find that your allergies have gotten far ahead of you and your congestion turns into sinus pain and pressure, you may very well have a sinus infection (but this diagnosis does require a Drs visit ok).

When you come to the regrettable conclusion that you have come down with a sinus infections my best recommendations are to FIRST see your primary care Dr. But once you get home here are a few remedies to try to help ease your symptoms in order to lead to a speedy recovery:

  • REST, REST, REST! your body will need the time to heal itself and use all its energy to fight off the infection. So the vacuuming, laundry and grocery list will have to wait.
  • Drink lots of fluids! This will help your body to flush out the infection. Also your mucus will become thinner and easier to blow out of your nose when you are drinking more fluids with higher water concentrations. Add some hot tea, with local honey and lemon into the mix to really vamp up the healing capabilities.
  • Use warm compresses! I love to apply this directly onto the side that is affected first. You can honestly hear the cracks and pops of the mucus moving in those super backed up sinus cavities when you apply heat properly.
  • Use steam! Hot and steamy showers will help that sticky mucus move. You can also try inhaling the steam off of a warm pot of water. A nice way to keep the steam near your face is to place a large towel over your head and the pot.
  • Use a humidifier at night! This will keep the air moist, I love adding lavender, eucalyptus, or even peppermint oil or all three.
  • Use saline rinses! My favorite type of saline rinse is a sinu-rinse. It is a squirt bottle that seems to add more “turbulence” and pressure to the sinus washing process. I have had great success evacuating some very thick and obviously infected mucous like substance (sorry for TMI) out of my sinuses using this technique. And after the rinsing I have seen a shortened sick time.
  • Continue to use your antihistamine of choice and nasal spray!
  • You can also use ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the pain.

I hope that you found these techniques helpful and that you too can suffer less during the allergy season! What are some of your best kept secrets on how to combat seasonal allergies? Share in the comments below!

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