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PLEASE HELP: ears popping, sinus issues
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PLEASE HELP: ears popping, sinus issues

PLEASE HELP! I've gone to 3 doctors with no answers so any advice or personal experience would really help!

I'm in my 20's, female and relatively healthy. I have fairly bad seasonal allergies (hayfever,etc) as well as cat allergies (severe itchy eyes, runny nose and even some wheezing). On Saturday Dec.18th I was at a friend's house with cats. Usually I'm ok if I don't touch the cats as she keeps the place clean. I was fine all day (there for about 4 hours). That evening once home, a few hours after my visit, I experienced some pretty severe wheezing symptoms and runny nose. It lasted for about 2 days, but was never severe enough to warrant a ER visit.

On Monday evening, I noticed my taste was starting to diminish. Throughout the week, my taste and smell both diminished (with some ups and downs). I felt no congestion and all my earlier symptoms from the cat allergies had disappeared. My taste and smell were at about 40-50% during that week. I had also started experiencing neck pain (could be unrelated as I have issues with upper shoulder/neck pain from carrying lots of tension). I went to the doctor to discuss my issues. He indicated it could be due to the allergies or it could be something else. He pointed out that my chiropractor visits, which I had recently started for my upper shoulder/neck pain, could have caused nerve damage of some sort. He seemed convinced that was it, especially since my last chiro appointment was Monday AM and my taste/smell started to diminish Monday PM. He dismissed all sinus/allergy issues pretty quickly, gave me an anti-inflammatory and told me to come back in a week.

From Dec.24-31st I took a plane for a vacation. From the 24th-26th, my smell and taste got worst and by the 26th was at 0-5%. Neck pain went away completely by Dec.26th, but smell and taste were gone. I was miserable to say the least and worried about it being permanent, especially if it was due to nerve damage. I did feel pressure in my sinuses during the flight but nothing too extreme (it was the most pressure I've ever felt however). Also, on one particular day, the atmospheric pressure was twice of that at home and on that day I had particularly bad sinus pressure. My face even swelled up a little. The pressure is not really painful and comes and goes. It's not really a headache, just pressure on the sinuses of my cheekbones. I had no congestion though.

I took a Claritin allergy-sinus pill from the 26th-30st (10mg lorantadine and 240 mg pseudoephedrine, once a day). By the 27th, my smell and taste started to return and by the 30st was back 95-100%. My nose felt very dry and I had some insomnia but no other side effects! All was GREAT! I stopped the Claritin on the 30th due to the dry nose/insomnia. That night, my taste/smell was down to 85%. I took another Claritin (Jan 1st) and smell/taste is back to 95-100%. However, the Claritin soon stopped being effective. Taste and smell once again went down to 40-50% on around Jan.2nd.

Went to the doctor again. He said to try taking 60mg pseudoephedrine four times a day instead of 240mg once a day, as it was more effective. Also gave me Amoxicillin as he thought there may be some infection. Was also prescribed Nasonex (corticosterone spray) and told to take an anti-histamine a day. He thinks there was inflammation due to the initial allergy attack which caused fluid back up that is now causing my taste and smell to be weak and my sinus pressure. The antibiotic is in case there is infection in the sinuses from all the fluid back up. The chiropractor issue was resolved as the chiro confirmed that any manipulations he did are not able to reach the cranial nerves responsible for taste and smell, which are deep within the head.

From Jan 1st-6th I followed this treatment plan and taste and smell once again went up to 80-90%. Suddenlty, on Jan.6th, I noticed some decrease in taste, although slight. On Jan.7th while at a friends house I experienced some mild wheezing from some unknown cause (no allergens present, been there many times with no issues, wheezing was very very mild and only for a short time period). Woke up on Jan.7th with almost no taste or smell, a mildly scratchy throat and feeling lethargic. On Jan 8th, I had extreme sinus pressure along my cheeks and above my eyes. For the first time, the pressure was severe and it was painful. My head felt like a balloon! Went to the doctor again. He did an xray, which showed NO SINUSITIS. This was problematic to me, since all along everyone has predicted it's sinusitis!

The lack of taste/smell persisted until Jan.10th with some fluctuation (smell/taste were about 30-60%). The night of Jan.10th, I actually had pretty good smell/taste for a brief time period, but this morning (Jan.11th) once again it's down to 30-40%. The sinus pressure/pain is intermittent. I never seem to get it in the morning although my taste is worst in the morning.

I've had NO fever, cough nor nasal congestion. I do have lots of ear popping going on as well. My nose is actually very clear according to the doctors. I do have some clear mucus that I intermittently cough up but not lots and never green or anything. Went to the doctor again today and he has prescribed the antibiotic Septra, thinking maybe I have a resistance to the Amoxicillin. I'm still on all of the above medications (except the Amoxicillin). I have an ENT consult scheduled as Xrays can be wrong about sinusitis (50% of the time they fail to diagnose it!) so it's still an option although unlikely.

I'm getting very worried that these symptoms are permanent. My doctor said it was unlikely due to the intermittant nature of them but it's now been 25 days with little positive relief!! Does anyone have similar experiences?
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hello and hope you are doing well.

As your loss of taste and smell are intermittent and varying in nature, it's unlikely to be due to neurological causes. It could be due to sinusitis. Sinus infection causes blockage of flow especially when a person lies down. The blockade is affected by the side to which the person turns also. Loss of smell is known to cause loss of taste sensation too.

Your recurring sinus infections could be due to chronic allergies, it could also be due to inadequate drainage o the sinuses into the nose due blockage of the opening of the sinus into the nose. Facilitating adequate drainage can help prevent recurrent sinusitis and an allergy specialist may try to identify the offending allergen and try to desensitize you.

Hope this helped and do keep us posted.
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