"It basically changed my life."
If you’ve never had a sinus infection it’s hard to explain just how awful they are. I made it 23 years sinusitis free, totally taking breathing through my nose for granted. Then, following a stint of back-to-back antibiotics I found myself dealing with the dreaded chronic sinusitis.
The inability to breathe, gross runny nose and money spent on tissues were the least of my worries – it’s the unbearable pain. Being someone who’s never even really had headaches, nothing could have prepared me for the 5 months of near constant throbbing face and head.
Sinusitis usually starts off as a cold, it can be triggered by hay fever, or in my case a weakened immune system. The tissues in your nose become inflamed and swell up, blocking the sinus passage and causing congestion. When your sinuses can’t drain the mucus builds up and you feel intense pressure in your head, around your eyes and nose. At it’s best it felt like a dull headache, at it’s worst I found myself desperately taking codeine at 5am so I could sleep because my head felt like it was going to explode.
Sleep is the hardest because lying down makes it worse, so I would have to sleep in a weird, half sat up position. I can liken it only to what I imagine a migraine must feel like, although I’ve never had one. Aside from the pain I found myself feeling constantly exhausted. I could sleep for 12 hours without feeling the least bit rested. My memory started to suffer, I couldn’t concentrate and staring at a computer screen all day was becoming near impossible.
When the first infection hit (before it became chronic) I had no idea what was wrong. I assumed I was just a bit run down, so I stupidly didn’t go to the doctor for a good month. By the time I went I was really ill – they did what doctors do best, handed me some antibiotics and sent me on my way.
I spent the following week in bed feeling like I was dying. I knew taking more antibiotics wasn’t ideal but I desperately wanted to feel well so I took them. Lowe and behold, a few weeks later it came back. This time I was determined to sort it out myself.
I bought decongestants, nasal sprays, I steamed, I lived off painkillers for months. I hoped it would go. It didn’t. Then, on one of my many sleepless, Google nights I came across a Neti Pot.
They sound weird, they look even weirder, but many people had claimed they were the only thing that had helped them. Essentially, it’s a pot with a very long, thin snout that you hold up to your nose and use to flush out your nasal passage. You can buy a special Neti solution, which is basically just salt, to mix into your water and create the solution.
I was sceptical at first, it seemed too easy an answer for the months of drugs and pain. Plus, it was only £14. The first time I used it, it was not the nicest sensation. You have to tilt your head forward in a certain way so that it doesn’t run down the back of your throat and make sure you’re breathing through your mouth (where else you would be breathing from I don’t know).
Afterwards, I followed the instructions and did the sinus massages included on a handy little sheet. What do you know, the following day I felt like a weight had been lifted from my head. That dull pain was almost entirely gone. I literally couldn’t believe it. Moral of the (extremely long) story is that if you are suffering with sinus issues, please give this a try! It’s basically changed my life.