Chronic sinusitis and infections that won’t go away

Feeling puny. That’s the best phrase I have for chronic sinusitis. While the chronic inflammation is uncomfortable enough to deal with, when you contract a sinus infection that will not go away, no matter how dedicated you are to treatment regimes, it’s a whole other story.

When I experienced this, the fatigue factor alone dictated my movements or lack thereof. It made me re-face my meningitis recovery.  It wiped me out. The headache and ear pain, solely on my right side, was earth shattering and disabling. At first I tried my emergency migraine medication, since it reminded me so much of the “icepick” like headaches I experienced after meningitis. I experienced days on days of this pain.

After weeks of antibiotics, sinus rinses, and modifying my lifestyle – the time came to make a decision. The multiple antibiotic prescriptions ran their course, my dedication to nasal rinses was unwavering, and I was following every nugget of advice my doctor had. Fortunately, the antibiotics and rinse did one thing – removed the unbearable headache/ear pain. The other symptoms were still present, but at least I felt like I could function – workwise, activity wise, and think more clearly.

As I told my ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) during a follow up visit, while still experiencing congestion, facial pressure, and fatigue I said I could manage presently like this. I was “okay” because I wasn’t “okay” in the days prior. But “okay” isn’t good, great, or healthy. I had been at 70% for too long. Honestly, I was ready to feel well.

A chronic sinus infection is a condition that is often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. And I can surely see why. I’ve found it’s quite common for primary care / urgent care professionals to prescribe patients antibiotics or suggest OTC ones that diminish the symptoms allowing patients to “just carry on” with their lives. My opinion on that is that a half tank of gas will only get you so far.

As you’ve come to realize, I’m very proactive about my health.  By no means am I eager to go under the knife, but if I’m living with a chronic condition (especially an infection!) and there is a treatment option that has high odds of improving my quality of life, I will weigh the pros and cons and make a prompt and informed decision.

We are all in control of our decisions – from doctors to treatment. It should always be an individual decision. And I firmly believe we must keep climbing – advocating for improved health.

Chronic sinusitis affects about 1 in 7 adults each year and “is one of the most common illnesses in the United States.”*

The treatments, guidelines, and management approaches seem to vary and be somewhat controversial.

“What happens to a patient depends on which doctor they visit.”*

Once again, I lean back to recommend that you choose your doctors wisely. Stand up for yourself and ask for a second opinion – just to get one, if you feel unsure about the first opinion, if you’re in constant pain/discomfort, and if it’s impeding your quality of life.

“For some patients, fatigue and malaise are their primary complaints, with facial pressure a secondary one.”* For me, my face always takes the brunt of illnesses. I appear to be ultra-sensitive.

“There is not enough attention paid to the effect that these nasal symptoms have on a person’s health.”*

I can attest to this. I haven’t been able to feel what I call 100% in close to a quarter of a year. The time and energy I expended in different areas of my life was zapped up much quicker. I did the best I could, which some days was very little. One thing I tried to do was to stay positive though. Determination and positivity to feel well, get answers, and find a workable solution were vital for me, my health, and my future.

We’ve all heard of our “sinuses,” but exactly what are they and how can they impact our health and quality of life? “Sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones around the nose that connect to the nose through small, narrow channels.”**

In my case, my right maxillary sinus and ethmoid sinus were the culprits of my problem. A CT scan showed that my right maxillary sinus was operating at only about 50%; my left maxillary sinus was fully healthy! I’ll take that as a partial win.

Healthy sinuses mean the hollow spaces are open, allowing air from a person’s nose to enter the sinuses and mucus made in the sinuses to drain into the nose. I’m already on my way, practically jumping for joy, knowing that soon, very soon, I will have healthy sinuses!

Sinus infections typically occur when bacteria or a virus infects the sinuses and start multiplying. Our body’s reaction to the infection causes sinus lining to swell, blocking the hollow spaces that drain the sinuses. “This causes mucus and pus to fill up the nose and sinus cavities.”**

When I decided it was smart for me to have sinus surgery (again), I immediately thought about 1) How much better I will ultimately feel, 2) What a risk it poses to leave an infection in my sinuses (gateway to my brain and spine), 3) How much less medication I will have to consume post-surgery, and 4) The surgery posed only minimal risks. To me, these four reasons warranted a decision in favor of surgery.

And I will report back after I’ve healed from my surgery and let you know how it went!

So, if you find yourself living with a chronic health condition, I hope this motivates you to seek answers and a doctor that will work with you in reaching better health. I’m always here to support you on any health journey you may be on.



Coming next: Rheumatoid Arthritis: Autoimmune disease 2.5 times more common in women