Over Thanksgiving I had what I thought was either a sinus infection or a cold. I get them usually when the weather changes, and we had just had a heat wave and then a sudden cold snap. I put off going to the doctor because they usually pass. But then my ear started to hurt, which usually doesn't happen, so I went to a doctor. I paid $40 for them to tell me to take an allergy pill, which I was already taking.
Then right before Christmas, it came back with a vengeance. It was almost exactly the same as before, except the cough was worse. I waited a week to go back to the doctor because I didn't have a fever and there was no real solution over Thanksgiving. I finally broke down and went to the doctor after a week of coughing up bright green mucus. I was diagnosed with bronchitis and given a Z-pack. It cleared up in ~3 days.
Now its back again. It started two nights ago as a cough and some sniffles. Now I can breathe through my nose, but my left ear and the left side of my throat hurts like a mother fucker. I've been taking my allergy pill with decongestant in it, but it's not doing much for the pain.
I do not have a fever. I have a lot of mucus in the morning, but during the day I'm mostly fine. My cough isn't too bad. But my ears need to pop and the left one *hurts*. On a scale of 0 being no pain and 10 being stabbing my foot with a knife, I'd give this a solid 4.5. And while my whole throat does somewhat hurt, the left side hurts way more than the right.
Is it worth it to visit a doctor? Or should I just keep taking my allergy pill and maybe some Tylenol and hope for the best?
You likely have an infection and need antibiotics. The allergy pill and tylenol will not do much for you.
With recurrent sinusitis, they give z-packs a few times, and then move on to other meds. It's up to you how much you want to suffer before you just give in. I would also maybe try to see an ENT doctor to see if there is an anatomic reason for the recurrent sinusitis and prevent it from reoccurring.
I usually use just an over the counter store brand comparable to zyrtec 24 hour relief. I usually only take it in the fall and spring, because I only get these when the weather changes from hot to cold or cold to hot super fast. If I feel something coming on, I switch to the same allergy pill only with sudafed in it. This usually does the trick. I actually skipped a couple years worth of sinus infections this way during years where the weather wasn't stupid.d
Normally the only time I see a doctor for these is when my nose is so stuffed that I cannot breath for over a week + I cannot sleep. Honestly its the lack of sleep that drives me to the doctor more than anything. The reason why these last three were weird is because it was the usual 100% clogged face with no hope for sleep ever. Instead, I could breath through my nose and had a minor sore throat and ear ache. I knew it was a sinus problem, since I've experienced this particular thing once before minus the ear ache. Over thanksgiving, the only reason I went to a doctor was when the ear ache started a couple days into the infection. I had never experienced that particular symptom and was afraid it was an ear infection. That went away with my allergy pill + Sudafed.
The second time I suffered through the same thing for a week. I thought my SO had just given it back to me, since I had wound up giving him what I had over Thanksgiving. It took him like 5-7 days to shake it, so I held off going to the doctor. I also didn't want to pay for someone to tell me within 15 minutes to just take an over the counter pill. I felt like I had been too hasty over Thanksgiving. I waited it out. I started coughing up bright green shit over a week later and decided waiting it out might make christmas suck. Then the cough got so bad that I wound up going to a 24-hour pharmacy at 2 am to find something to help me sleep. Two days before Christmas, I went to the little clinic and got the Z pack.
Then this time, the big difference was the amount of pain in my throat and ear. When I posted here, I thought it was the same sinus issue. But by the time I fell asleep I was afraid a coworker had given me strep because of just how much everything hurt. This time I went to an actual doctor, and not a little clinic. My student center apparently has amazing health services! The doctor did a strep test and then told me it was bacterial and weather related.
I do need to make some changes to my overall life style. I need to be healthier, and I am trying. I've been transitioning into more home cooked meals and less fast food. I've also been trying to eat less and work more exercise into my routine. Its slow going, but its definitely progress. I'm sure my diet has some factor in all of this, but I also don't doubt its somewhat seasonal. As I said before, all of these events coupled with a cold snap following a warm spell. The last temp drop was ~60 degrees over the course of 24 hours. Its like asking me to get sick.
I do not use a neti pot--to be honest they scare the shit out of me. Whenever I hear about people with terrible water-bourne illness, its always from using a neti pot. I know I could avoid that with distilled water, but it still scares me. I have started taking a multi-vitamin to help supplement my poor diet as I transition into healthier eating. I know the newest science around supplements and vitamins and all of that, but I feel like it couldn't hurt and my gummy vitamins are delicious!
Also, just want to say--I get you entirely. I hate taking antibiotics. I do not want to be part of the problem with overuse. I am already part of the problem--I had a murmur when I was born and even though the hole that caused it closed up on its own, I had to take penicillin every time I went to the dentist. Now I'm allergic to three major antibiotics and the stuff I can take is limited! (And I was completely pissed when I read a few years ago that doctors discontinued this practiced because there was no real substantial evidence that going to the dentist would harm a child with those types of conditions. I felt cheated, lied to, and pissed off at my allergy!)
Anyway, I typed out way too much. Sorry...
Do you use a neti pot? What allergy pill and decongestant are you using? I use to get sinus infections on the reg 4,5, 6 times a year in my teens and early 20s. I always took antibiotics for it and I felt like to some extent taking antibiotics that often may have been killing off healthy bacteria and setting me up for the next infection. Now I am in my late 20s, and I don't get but maybe 1 a year and it clears up without antibiotics, but I hit it with sudafed right off the bat. That phenylephrine does not work at all. I think a healthier diet and shift in healthier lifestyle in general may have contributed to me doing much better now a days, but I feel for you, I have definitely been there. Hope you can get to the point where you don't need antibiotics every time you start to crud up :)
Doctor's visit at Valley Medical Group, Amherst MA. Some doctors refuse to suggest neti pots because they are so often misused or used with homemade saline solution.
I was being checked out for tears in my eardrum (turns out it was just scratched and infected), and everyone I know was suggesting neti pots for relieve of the sinus pressure. I had lots of different colored discharge, extreme pain, sinus infection, and didn't wanted to complicate matters. The doctor agreed.
I agree that neti pots can be dangerous if used incorrectly. If you are offering medical advice you need medical literature or at least years of empirical evidence to back up what you are offering, not a statement your doctor may have made at an appointment. That is called hearsay and it is inadmissible in court.
Doctors aren't always right. Also doctors will frequently agree with you even when they know you are wrong if it is a non issue. This makes their lives a lot easier. Example. Doc my teeth are all falling out cause of my bad genes; everyone in my family has dentures. Me... OK yeah that's bad luck you've got those bad teeth genes; lets see what we can do about it.
Chronix sinusitis here:
Hot showers before and after bed. Clean sheets and pillows cases. Humidifiers. Snorting "shots" of dissolved sea salt and disinfected warm water, then spit them out (I just don't like saline sprays). Moist heat packs. "Sinus exercises" like tapping and massaging-this should hurt like a bitch but in combination with heat packs it works really well. Standing and inhaling hot steam, maybe with some herbs or scented oils. Less processed food and commercial meats (chicken/pork). Pound water. Always SPIT OUT whatever comes out of your nose. ALWAYS.
I went to the doctor this morning because my throat got so bad last night that I couldn't even talk. He prescribed me a 2x a day, 10-day antibiotic and prednisone. Its not strep, and its not the flue. What I asked him what I could do to prevent this in the future, he told me to move to Maui. "Move" is actually a pretty common solution here in the Ohio River Valley, both for allergies and sinus infections. Our allergens are stupid bad, and our weather tends to go from hot to freezing in no time flat. All three of these episodes corresponded with a sudden cold snap following some mild weather, with this episode being the worst. On Sunday, the high was 55 F. by monday, it was 2 F.
Thanks for your response.