I’ve lived with recurring sinus congestion for as long as I can remember. After some fancy web research, I discovered it is known as chronic sinusitis. I was really hoping that the cure of all my previous ills, the Paleo lifestyle, would take care of it. But, after two years of Paleo, I’ve found the one thing that a clean diet didn’t fix for me. Stupid nose. Anyway, my sinus congestion acts a lot like allergies, but it is a year round problem and most predominant at night. Basically, either one or both nostrils are totally blocked and it turns me into a mouth breathing, drooling mess. Sorry Rene.
On nights when it is really bad, I get all claustrophobic and end up sitting until I can nod off from sleep deprivation. An over the counter spray is a quick fix, but I’m nervous about warnings of a “rebound effect”. If the nasal spray is used for too many treatments in a row, it becomes ineffective at treating the problem and you end up with worse symptoms than when you started. That scenario makes me sweat just thinking about it. I found Afrin and Nostrilla to work equally well, but my preference is Nostrilla… strictly for the name. Unfortunately, it’s not a natural solution and isn’t a permanent fix.
I also tried a Neti pot for a couple months. Decent results, but the results were only temporary, sometimes not even lasting the night. Still there is something fun, and gross, about streaming warm water from one nostril to the other that I really enjoy. I even upgraded to a super cool looking stainless steel Neti pot. It’s really a beaut, I just wish it was the problem solver. I do think the Neti is a good way to clear out those seasonal allergies, so I will keep it in the arsenal.
Next up was the Breathe Right strips. These things didn’t stand a chance against my sinusitis. I tried the strips for a few nights and there was really no relief other than the comforting feeling of having a splint plastered across my nose. Look weird, feel weird, didn’t work. That got me thinking and researching some more. What if there was something like a Breathe Right for the inside of your nose? Lo and behold, there is! It’s called SleepRight. These expand your nostrils from the inside and provide better airflow. They kind of pinch a little in the middle, but they offered some good relief. Not perfect breathing, but at least these worked a bit. I did find myself inadvertently picking at them in the middle of the night, just as you might subconsciously pick at any foreign object jammed in your nostrils. These little gems worked well, but there was still congestion higher up in the sinuses that the SleepRight just couldn’t reach. I just thought of this, but I may have to try a SleepRight/ BreatheRight combo. Whoa… mind blown. I may have to give that a proper test!
Anyway, one evening at yoga, I overheard a classmate talking about her experience with acupuncture. She was saying how it released a lot of histamines and helped clear up her allergies. Hmmm… maybe this could work for my breathing. I did a few personal tests with acupressure points around my nose and decided to move forward with an acupuncture session. At my fellow yogi’s referral, I made an appointment to see Dr Nick Leroy from the Illinois Center for Progressive Health (www.drnick.net). He is a holistic physician and has been practicing acupuncture for over 15 years. He knows his stuff! Dr Nick asked a lot of good questions during the consult and we decided on a course of five acupuncture treatments. I just completed the fourth treatment. The treatments last about 30 minutes with 2 needles in each foot, 2 in each hand, 2 in each ear and 5 on my nose and face. The ear needles freaking hurt going in, the others you hardly know are there. At the end of the session, I feel really relaxed and my breathing is very clear. Results from the first couple of treatments only lasted a few days, but now they are lasting longer. So far, so good. No waking up in the middle of the night and having fairly free breathing has been a really nice change. I’m thinking this is a good solution for me, but I’ll update results after another month.
It was a perilous selfie to take with the needles sticking out of my hand