Sinusitis- How I Beat It- You Can Too
By Walt Ballenberger
After two painful sinus operations, I was still coming down with infections. I had to find some real remedy to my sinusitis problem, as I was tired of taking antibiotics and especially tired of the dull, deep headaches every time I had an attack.
Sinus Operations- Try to Avoid
The operations were no fun. After the first one my nose was "packed". This means that in order to stop the bleeding, the ENT specialist/surgeon put a large amount of gauze in my nose, which means that one can only breathe through the mouth for the week or so of recovery time. In other words, swallowing and breathing cannot occur at the same time. This is a good way to lose weight, as one cannot eat much, but it is not a great way to live. At the end of this period, before pulling out the gauze, the doctor said "this will feel like I'm pulling your brains out through your nose". This was the most accurate statement he ever made to me. Pulling what seemed like 6 feet of moist, sticky gauze out of my nose was an almost surrealistically painful sensation. But I thought, "if my deviated septum is now fixed, at least I can look forward to no sinus infections in the future, or at least a lot fewer of them. I was wrong again, as they started coming back after a few months. I changed ENT specialists since the first one put me through tons of pain for no gain. After a couple of years of treatment with this new doctor, I decided to take his advice and try another operation. Among other therapies, I had allergy shots during that time, even though I only tested positive for minor allergies to a couple of things. My nose was not "packed this time, but there was still plenty of pain. Again my hopes for an infection-free future were dashed when they started up again after a few months. So after two operations by two different ENT specialists, I said "enough is enough". For those considering sinus operations to fix things like a deviated septum, here's my considered advice: don't do it. At least try the nasal irrigation recommended by Dr. Murray Grossan which is explained below before you do. One hears about people who have had 5 or 6 sinus operations, and these either don't work, or if they do cause improvement, it doesn't last very long. Some people have told me that a sinus operation "fixed their problems, but I am skeptical.
Tried Various Approaches for Years
Throughout my years with significant sinus problems, I had read a number of books and tried different products and approaches. One author I read early-on was not very encouraging. He said that certain things aggravated sinus problems, and one should simply stop eating chocolate, cheese and other dairy products. Also, he said that in order to be cured there could simply be no drinking of alcoholic beverages either. Sorry, he said, but that's the way it has to be. For a person who lived in France and who has come to enjoy the excellent wine and numerous cheese varieties, this was awful. What kind of a life would I have without drinking wine and eating cheese? At that point I did have to stop drinking, as even one glass of wine could be enough to trigger an infection almost every time. After six months of this I got sick of drinking soda and non-alcoholic beer, which tastes pretty bad. In fact I was ridiculed in a restaurant in France when I ordered a Buckler's, which is Heineken's nonalcoholic beer. The French owner asked my why I would order such a ridiculous beverage with his excellent meal, and I explained I had sinus problems. He replied that he bad sinus problems too, and he got headaches every day, but nothing would stop him from drinking red wine! I actually admired his attitude, but the headaches were too painful, and I felt like I was on the search for "Lorenzo's oil", like the father in the movie of the same title that needed a certain rare oil to cure his son. It was also through this author, an ENT specialist, that I first heard about nasal irrigation, but the system suggested did not work well. He sold a saline solution, but it was too strong and caused a burning sensation in my nose. He suggested a sort of long-nosed pot called a Neti pot to use to pour the solution into each nostril. This approach did not work nearly as well as the system suggested by Dr. Grossan (see below), and I was wrongly convinced that nasal irrigation was not effective. It makes a big difference how the irrigation is done and with what kind of equipment and saline solution.
Dr. Murray Grossan to the Rescue
I thus started doing more research on other books and approaches, and in the course of this I came across a book by Dr. Murray Grossan called "The Sinus Cure- 7 Simple Steps". In a nutshell, Dr. Grossan's system worked. His book contains many technical explanations about sinusitis and how to deal with it. He clearly explains the reasons for the problem and suggests numerous remedies including diet considerations, home environmental improvements like duct cleaning and humidity control, and the most important aspect of the program: pulsating nasal irrigation with a saline solution.
Use a WaterPik and Adaptor
When I first started following Dr. Grossan's advice he suggested using a WaterPik machine, and these have been sold for years as devices to improve gum and dental health. Dr. Grossan simply sold an adaptor and a saline solution, although one can use table salt. Although much more expensive than salt, I find that this saline solution is convenient, works well, and has no preservatives. I usually purchase a dozen containers at a time, and these will last up to a year with one application per day. One simply puts a spoonful of saline solution into the WaterPik tank and then about 16 oz. of warm water to dissolve the powder. Then the nasal adaptor is put into one nostril and the machine will gently propel half the liquid through one's nasal canal, and it will drain out the other side. One then puts the adaptor in the other nostril and repeats the procedure on that side. This procedure is done while leaning over a sink. I then normally put more water into the tank and use the WaterPik on my teeth as it was originally intended, and I've helped my gum and dental health as well. My dental hygienist has made several comments about how much better my gums and teeth are when I go in for cleanings. The whole effort only takes about 5 minutes or so, including wiping everything dry. I normally do the irrigation once a day about an hour before bed, but if I happen to wake up with more than the usual congestion in the morning, I'll do it then as well.
The Easiest Way to Start
In the past couple of years Dr. Grossan has come up with his own machine for nasal irrigation. It is called the Hydro Pulse Nasal Irrigation System. For about $89 plus shipping one receives the Hydro Pulse Nasal/Sinus Irrigator", 2 Original Sinus Irrigator Tips ", 2 Original Throat Irrigator Tips", Breathe-ease XL Nasal Moisturizer (this is the saline solution), and excerpts from,"The Sinus Cure" by Dr. Grossan.
This is the easiest way to start, as you have everything needed. If the system works well and you want to continue to do nasal irrigation on a daily basis, I would suggest purchase of a pack of one dozen saline solution boxes, as the price is lower per box and there is only one shipping charge to pay. Of course one could still purchase a WaterPik at a retail store and buy the Dr. Grossan's adaptor and saline solution to work with it. For information about how to purchase these items, and also how to download a free ebook written by Dr. Grossan, follow the links at the end of this article..
For many people the nasal irrigation system will be enough to control your sinus problems. Those of us with particularly significant sinusitis may need to supplement this with medications, and I use Flonase before going to bed each night as well. If I feel like I'm on the verge of a sinus infection I might take some zyrtec (an antihistimine) or if an infection seems imminent, I have my silver bullet, which is prednisone. I don't use much of the latter, however, as there can be side affects with this steroid. My doctor usually prescribes 10 pills of 20 mg each, and these last for about a year. I never take a whole pill and usually take 5 mg or 10 mg maximum at a time for a day or two. I'm told this is a reasonable amount and nothing to worry about. Speaking of bad side effects, prior to discovering Dr. Grossan's system, sometimes desperate for relief, I used an over-the-counter spray called afrin. The warnings on the label say to use this product for only 4 days or less. This medication can damage the cilia in one's sinuses and cause permanent damage if used too much. As frequent users know, there is also an effect called rebound congestion, so after using it you might end up just as congested as when you started. Thus, people are tempted to continue using it, and it is said to become addictive. Dr. Grossan simply recommends that you throw your afrin into the garbage and stay away from it. I have not used it for years now and am glad to be rid of it.
I haven't eliminated sinus infections entirely, and I might come down with perhaps one per year. I'm more susceptible when very tired, or after long flights, as we often go back and forth to Europe for our tour business. When flying anywhere I make sure to take some kind of decongestant, normally the Flonase. I can enjoy wine, cheese, chocolate, and I really don't need to avoid any particular foods. Dr. Grossan's system has worked for me, and I certainly don't miss the deep, painful sinus infection headaches that used to be all too familiar. Dr. Grossan has lots of other advice in his book as well, and I definitely recommend that anyone with sinusitis read it.
Best of luck to all sinusitis sufferers. I hope this information will help improve your lives as much as it has helped me. Please don't hesitate to forward this article to friends and family who suffer from sinusitis.
About The Author
Walt Ballenberger is founder of Beaux Voyages, Inc. http://www.beauxvoyages.com which offers tours in France.
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