LET’S TALK ABOUT CHRONIC SINUSITIS. IT’S MY PASSION!
If you are like me you have struggled with chronic sinusitis your whole life. Maybe you are looking for solutions. That journey is what eventually drew me to specialize in treating patients with sinus and allergy symptoms. I only see the worst patients now in my office and if you are wondering what you can try at home so you don’t have to come see me or another sinus specialist, you have reached the right place!
In this 4th installment of a four part series I am going to outline the various over-the-counter oral antihistamines available to help improve and in some cases eliminate chronic sinusitis symptoms. Let’s get to it!
- This is the last category I want to cover. These medications can be a very powerful treatment in some individuals as histamine is one of the key chemicals you produce in your body that causes inflammation, itching, drainage, and eventually swelling and congestion.
- There are basically two types available over the counter. The older antihistamines are very inexpensive when used daily. Unfortunately they frequently have all the side effects and only last for brief periods in your body.
- The most common sedating antihistamine is called diphenhydramine (i.e. Benadryl) and it needs to be taken every four to six hours to be effective. It does cause drowsiness in many individuals and is often used as the main ingredient in over-the-counter sleep aids. That being said it is cheap and effective and I still recommend it to patients when they are having severe symptoms and when they are in situations where it will be OK to be drowsy from the side effects.
- The new antihistamines you will find over the counter will all be labeled – non drowsy (i.e. Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, Xyzal). These antihistamines were developed more recently to do three things. They were designed to control allergy symptoms, last 24 hours, and not make people feel tired. Again just like nasal steroids, all the non-drowsy antihistamines are about equally effective across groups of patients, but you should try to find one that works best for you. I recommend starting with price and then try to find one that is most-effective with little to no side effects.
- Long-term use of over the counter antihistamines at recommended doses has been found to be very safe and there are multiple options available to fit different age groups and different methods of delivery – liquid, chew tabs, gel caps, and tablets.
- If you have allergies, clear nasal drainage, itching or watering of the eyes, nose or throat, you should try adding oral antihistamines to your daily regimen while you are symptomatic.
So your best things to try when it comes to reverse nasal and sinus inflammation to stop chronic sinusitis is to follow this effective strategy:
- Identify and avoid your triggers in your home, work and where you play.
- Identify and avoid any foods that may be triggering inflammation.
- Start nasal saline spray several times a day and especially after you do a triggering activity. This may help wash out the things in your nose that are making you sick.
- For you over-achievers out there try using nasal saline irrigation once or twice a day until your symptoms improve. If you have a dirty job or dirty hobbies this one can be a very effective approach to feeling better and it does not involve extra medication use. Many patients like that.
- Move on to medication trials when saline does not work. If you are having nasal congestion, headache, facial pain and pressure or thick mucus/post-nasal drainage your best option is to do a trial of nasal steroid sprays. As mentioned, these have been shown to be effective at reversing nasal sinus inflammation and may give you good relief. Nasal steroids are also a good option to control allergy when you can’t find an oral antihistamine that works without side effects.
- If you are having itching or watering of the eyes, nose or throat or having excessive clear nasal drainage you should try using an oral antihistamine to control symptoms. The better you control your allergies the better you will control that root cause of your sinus symptoms… Inflammation!
What to do if all these things don’t help?
When medications fail that’s when you want to consider searching for a sinus specialist near me on google. We are out there and we are here to help.
Click HERE if you want to start an immediate discussion with me about your nasal sinus symptoms and options for care.
I sincerely hope you found this article helpful. Have a great day!