I have had sneezing and blocked nose problem since 2001, my nose gets blocked in one side then goes to the other side and then blocks the side that was just unblocked, whilst running continuously I often get drowies and a bit light headed. the sneezing is what usually comes first before the blocked and runny nose, this occurs every day of my life pretty much there isn't usually day without all this and being able to breath freely from my nose. I have tried everything over the counter over the years and been to docotors and they just say take hay fever and signis tablets, sprays and they just don't work for me. It can't be healthy to be taking all these things everyday of my life?!!!
What you experience is not all that uncommon. First of all, the fluctuations from one side of your nose to the other is actually normal. It's called the "nasal cycle" and basically means that one side blocks off (the turbinates swell) while the other opens. Each cycle can take upwards of several hours, or can be much shorter, depending on many factors.
The problems come into play when the swelling becomes too pronounced causing that tight congested feeling. Considering you said you sneeze first, it makes me think you either have allergic or non-allergic rhinitis (both have similar symptoms) which causes extra inflammation in addition to the normal cycle.
You don't mention what kind of doctors you've visited. A visit with a good ENT is in order. First off, they will determine if you have an excessively deviated septum which will also contribute to inflammation, and if not, will likely try you on the sprays. Before the sprays, the doctor may suggest you get allergy tests, again to determine if you have allergic or non-allergic inflammation. Yes, it IS okay to take nasal sprays indefinitely ONLY IF they are PRESCRIBED. Do NOT use OTC decongestant sprays; they will actually make your nose WORSE in the long run. Anyway, there are billions of prescription sprays that you can try until you and your doctor find the right one. The key with MOST of the sprays is to take them consistently for an extended period of time. For example, corticosteroid sprays like Nasonex take a while before you feel the affectiveness. However, an antishitamine spray called Astelin works much quicker (it's what I'm on for non-allergic vasomotor rhinitis) and has less side effects (like irriration) than other sprays.
Another think you can try on your own is saline nasal sprays and a nasal irrigation rinse like Sinucleanse. All that is is a mild salt-water solution that rinses irritants out of your nose and helps calm those turbs down. It works wonders for me, particularly before bed. (Take note, even if you don't have allergies, your nose can still react to allergins as IRRITANTS...it's a fine line but there IS a difference.)
Last but not least, your doctor may determine surgery is in order, but that is usually a very last resort and that's why they try you on sprays, even permanently, if at all possible. That's because trimming the nasal tissues called turbinates can cause very severe permanent side effects if not done conservatively and sparingly. Do not EVER allow a doctor to completely remove your turbs or cut them way back. Straightening a deviated septum is one thing (and okay to do) but trimming the turbs is quite another. They are a very important part of the nasal anatomy and that's why it IS okay to rely on prescriptions sprays for as long as possible, rather than operate.
In all this, don't stress so much. You'd be suprised how common these problems really are!
I have all of these symptons too, as well as a few others. My ENT first tested me for allergies and put me on immunotherapy, then he put me on nasal sprays and claritin, I have CT scans every 3 months. He has decided to fix my deviated septum and remove my tonsils and adenoids (adenoids) as he thinks they are all linked to my chronic sinusitis. I did visit the ER last month after a year and a half on different antibiotics with no relief, they did a culture and found a MRSA infection in my sinuses. I took Bactrim for 10 days and was able to breathe for the first time in years, however 5 days later it was back in full force, so now I have to have another culture and possible another round of meds or even a different med.
I would suggest seeing a good ENT and seeing what they say. Trust me the problems you describe have plagued me since I was 9 and they are pretty common. GOOD LUCK!!!
Visit with a Good ENT, rare but they are out there. Now, regarding the ear issues, they will resolve when the sinus issues resolve. BUT if you do not want to wait for that to occur, you may want to consider PET tubes. They will resolve the blocked off ear sensation. BUT PET tubes come with theor own set of issues. But, ultimatley after consideration it should be your choice.
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