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Sinusitis with difficulty breathing
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Sinusitis with difficulty breathing

In December I had bronchitis - which was complicated by immunosuppressants for MS and asthma.  Months later I continue to experience a great deal of sinus discharge (post nasal drip mostly) which is clear to white.  I also have a severe ear ache in my right ear and a sore throat on my right side - and my saliva has been real thick.  

I've been checked over by an internist and pulmonary specialist, had MRIs, CT scans and several chest x-rays, and even though the MRI showed no sinus disease, and the other tests showed nothing, their determination is that it is sinusitis.

They suggested I do nasal irrigation which is fine at the time I do it -- but afterwards, and progressively throughout the day, I experience chest tightness and a lot of non productive coughing.  We were going to try the nebulized nasal antibiotics for 3 weeks but frankly I'm afraid of making the situation worse.

Is it typical that nasal lavage would cause problems with breathing?  What is the best course of action in a circumstance such as this?  

I have an appointment with an ENT but not for another 10 days, and I was in the emergency room last night for this chest tightness and inability to breath (even though I take guaifenesin throughout the day to keep fluids looser) and he saw nothing wrong with me except for obvious breathing distress and suggested I go back to my internist.

No one has any answers and I just keep getting passed back and forth from one specialist to another.  I just want to know the best course of action to take as this continues to worsen.

Thank you.
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I am sure it is frustrating for you not to get a good answer based on objective data for the cause of your problem.  Then to make matters worse you have experienced side effects from the therapy.

It is possible to have a sinus inflammation and not a sinus infection.  This could cause the clear and/or white drainage you have described.  A sinus infection usually shows up on the CT scan of the sinuses and may produce drainage that is thicker and a different color.  Once the area is inflamed, sometimes any source of irritation can cause a reflex in your lungs giving you the breathing difficulty you have described after the nasal irrigation.  This is, of course, coming from someone who has not examined you and not seen any of the studies that have been performed.

I would write down all of your symptoms and what happens to you when you take medicines.  Discuss these at your next appointment to try to get a plan of how to move forward to control the problem.
4 Comments
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I recently began doing nasal irrigations for the first time and experienced a similar reaction. I have a lingering sinus infection and decided to try saline solution because I have read that it can be very helpful. For hours after each irrigation, I experienced throat irritation and a hacking cough; these were not present before. I finally stopped the irrigations when I began experiencing tightness in my chest and reduced peak flow readings. Unfortunately, I still have the sinus infection but the other symptoms stopped when I quit using the saline. I was using sterile saling with no preservatives and was using it gently. I guess some people just don't tolerate it well because of hyperreactive airways.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your comment - I think the reason the coughing and chest tightness becomes worse is the increased post nasal drip and throat irritation - but that doesn't necessarily explain away the lung tightness and only brochial hyper responsiveness made sense for that.  

I too was using only saline solution.  I have found that a bit of saline solution in my nebulizer, then inhaled through my nose, is beneficial without the horrendous side effects of pouring water into my nostrils, but then again we are talking about a very small amount of mist vs. a neti pot of water.  You might want to try that for a little relief, or even check into nebulized sinus antibiotics for your sinus infection, I've done that too.  

Now if they just had a great cure for post nasal drip, non stop throat clearing, non productive coughs and a head full of jello -- but then life would be perfect and we just can't have that :)  Afterall, you can't appreciate good if you've never experienced bad, right? (or so my more evolved self tries to tell me)

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Avatar_n_tn
Sometimes, bronchitis can cause or worsen GASTRIC REFLUX. Gastric reflux can make sinus problems worse. If you can find out whether you have reflux, and if yes, find out what causes your reflux, you might be able to lessen the reflux.

Concerned lady
http://cantbreathesuspectvcd.com
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