Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Love Spring, But My Allergies Don't!

Things are all blooming, but sinus allergies for many people can make enjoying the season difficult.

Knowing what your allergies are, is available by a blood test you can obtain by your primary clinician.

There are a number of over the counter medicines (anti-histamines for itching, runny symptoms; decongestants for pressure sensations.)
Some other ways to handle allergies includes gently rinsing the nasal cavity to get rid of pollens and relieve congestion.

Your sinuses are located in your head. They include your frontal, maxillary, sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses. They are air pockets that have an intricate connection. Their openings or ostio are small channels leading out of the air pockets to the highway of your upper respiratory system that connects them. When you get exposed to a pollen or a virus, the lining of your respiratory system gets swollen. It can end up closing off the air pockets that then become vacuums and start to hurt. If the sinus is clogged for a long time, it can become infected (and you have headache, nasal discharge and unpleasant breath.) Smoking makes clearing your sinus passages sluggish (so you get clogged up or infected more easily.)

One easy way at home that you can 'unclog' or eliminate some of the Springtime pollens is a technique call nasal lavage. Nasal lavage aka ‘netipot’ uses the same approach as is used with gargling with salt water. If you try this  – use distilled water and kosher salt (make it similar to the ‘bite’ of salt water when you gargle); also can buy premade at drug store (sinus rinse, etc.) The advantage of a store bought kit is that you get a little jar that you can use and reclean easily. But for saving money, a Pyrex container with a spout can work too!

How to use: use room temperature water; mix salt and water in pyrex or prebought container. Lean over sink with one ear parallel to sink. Gently flow salt water into opposite nostril. If you are very ‘clogged up’ – WAIT! You need to wait a bit as the water has to work it’s way through the congestion. You will slowly see some dripping coming out of the other nostril. Continue flowing water in until you get a quick response and flow out the other side. Lean with the other ear down and do the same to the opposite nostril. Make sure you lean forward so that fluid doesn't drip to the back of your throat and irritate you.

A couple of important points:
 NEVER use water out of the tap; use distilled as it is free of contaminants
 AVOID too hot or too cold water. Room temperature is the best.
 NEVER use force or pressure - this is a gentle drainage approach. It will be uncomfortable and potentially harmful if you force liquid with high pressure into your sinuses.


Use warm heating pad to neck (20 min on/off several times a day)
Try getting a massage or
Use warm water on your face, neck, shoulders (in the shower) to promotes drainage

Use 12 hour Afrin like product the day of and night of air travel

If able and doesn’t bother you, take a decongestant (OTC pseudophedrine) the day of travel.

Buy extra water to drink on board; avoid alcohol

Take 3 ounce saline bottle for hydration of nose (or nasal lavage) on board

Take lozenges for ascent and descent to decrease challenge on ear canals