Today, I'd like to talk about some common myths I hear about sinus woes. As with all things, people are full of advice when they find you're sick or suffering from some kind of health ailment. Here are the top tips I get, and the truth and information you need about them:
You need to cut out dairy! This was a popular one for a while, and I still hear it from time to time. The idea that dairy increases mucus production was the root of this myth. So I actually tried it for a while, and noticed absolutely no difference. In fact, I gained 5 pounds, and my Vitamin D deficiency got worse. When I asked my doctor about it, she said it was because this advice is total crap. It turns out that cutting dairy only helps if you're allergic to it, which I'm not, so this is null and void. In fact, she said she wished she knew who was perpetuating this rumor, because dairy actually has some significant health benefits that this misguided advice is scaring people away from. So forget this one unless you're lactoce intolerant.
The daily medication you take is making you dependent on it, and causing your problems. It's actually referred to as "maintenance medications," and the reason doctors prescribe it is because something inside of you is broken, and it fixes it. The only threat of dependence is on feeling better on a day to day basis, which I proudly claim. If a daily dose of Flonase and Claritin help me to feel good and function as a normal human being, then it's worth it. Medicine doesn't cause problems, it solves them. In fact, every doctor I've talked to (even casually) believes that Flonase is the best thing since modern antihistamines/decongestants, and they're glad it's over the counter. The maintenance medications don't cause problems, they actually head them off most of the time, and the infections come from a virus that just progressed despite it all. Sometimes, your body is too broken to fix itself, and it needs help from modern medicine. Take advantage of it.
Use steam, keep yourself warm, and stay hydrated. This is actually true. It does help to open up your sinuses, to keep the mucus moving on out, and preventing more bacteria from growing. Water is great for flushing out the bad stuff too. Just be prepared to need plenty of restroom breaks because all of this will keep your bladder full.
Do saline irrigations. This one is conditional. Saline irrigations are beneficial when you're well and recovering from something, but doctors generally don't recommend it when you're really sick and congested, because it can push bacteria through more of your system. It's best to cut the irrigations until you finish antibiotics, and then resume it and keep doing it while you're well to help you heal and prevent future problems.
Get a humidifier. Actually, humidity helps bacteria to grow, so you want to lower the humidity to kill those creeps off. However, like the saline irrigations, a humidifier can help when you're well depending on what you're sensitive to. I suggest checking with your doctor on your particular allergies, sensitivies, and conditions. My doctor actually recommended a dehumidifier because I have a mold allergy.
Cut exercise and get rest. It depends on what you have and how you feel. Sometimes, exercise can help to push things out of your system faster. Sometimes, it makes it worse. And on some antibiotics, exercising can actually increase your risk of tendinitis or injury. Again, check with your doctor on this one. Yes, you do need more rest to recover, and may need to suspend workouts while you're at your worst. When to resume is between you and your doctor.
Decongestants - yay or nay? Some say to take them when you're sick, and cut back to antihistamines when you feel better. Some say to stay away from them at your worst, because they keep things stuck inside you. Again, I think it depends on your symptoms. I find that Claritin D is a miracle drug when I'm so congested that my nose is useless, and it seems to help. Different things work for different people, so do what makes you feel better. One thing: stay away from Afrin as much as possible, because it can cause rebound congestion. I need to get off/away from the stuff myself.
So there you have it - the truth about your sinuses. I understand this is going around, so I hope people are recovering and regaining their health from it. I also hope that some of this helps. But definitely get thyself to a doctor if you feel really bad, and do what they tell you. That's the best advice of all.
That's all today. Happy Friday, and have a wonderful weekend.