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Why when I get a cold am I not able to pass anything forward out of my nose?

Background:  Have had an ongoing PND/ sinus issue for 5 or 6 years.  I have been told its not allergic but is non specific rhinitis.

Every year in the spring, the thick mucus in my sinuses starts dripping down my throat and is generally a pain.  However like clockwork as we get into late spring, I develop a summer cold.  And it knocks me around and takes between 4 - 6 weeks to get on top of.

Its getting serious because for the last 3 years when the cold comes, the back of my nose and sinuses fill up but none of it will come out of my nose.  It flows by the boat load straight down my throat.  Cue 2 days of sitting in a chair going without sleep and desperately trying to breathe.  Each year its got more serious.  First year I got a routine inhaler and thought that would do it but now I am at the stage where the mucus is so thick and immovable that I couldn't get the inhaler past the mucus into my lungs.  So I'm gasping and wheezing and coughing and choking and my heart is pounding so hard I am awaiting the heart attack!  And this goes on for a couple of days and its very scarey.  But the story doesn't ever end there, the next stage is a reduced but still significant amount of mucus everywhere, mainly from the nose but I suspect some of it is in the bronchioles because when I cough and actually manage to get stuff up it feels like it is coming from 'grooves' within the very upper part of my chest on one side.  Also the stuff that comes up is a dirty grey brown and has an unpleasant smell.

Meanwhile my nose seems to have settled enough for  me to blow out of but its still streaming down both the front and the back of my nose on and off throughout the day.  The mucus is mainly white but also a bit yellow tinged.

I am still worn out from all the coughing and continue to have disturbed sleep because of all the mucous being produced.  If this follows true to form,  I am at Day 9 now and this will start to die down around Day 14 but the nasal mucus and thickness and severe PND will be present for up to six weeks.

So does anyone know what is going on with this?  

Another thing that may provide a clue is after several years of nasal rinsing (the only thing that works for my aggravated sinuses and PND). I got lazy and stopped.  After a break of 4 months, I started to get noticeably bad so tried to return to it.  But no luck, tepid water, saline whatever, the pain is really intense and no matter how many times I have tried, I have not been able to nasal rinse without sharp stinging pain.  I assumed it was due to inflammation but one thing that is interesting is that I tried it the other day in desperation when I was choking all the time and it worked perfectly, no pain at all.  I tried again today and we are back to intense stinging.

If you can make sense out of any of this, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.  It's getting beyond me just hoping for the best.

I'm pretty large and am in my late 50's and dont know if this is part of the problem.  Also its almost certain I have sleep apnoea.


2 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi Sparky!  Welcome to medhelp--  glad you found us.  So, ugh.  I feel our pain and this has happened to me.  Not with every cold but enough that I can relate to what you are speaking of.  I also have a husband with chronic sinus issues.  He's even had surgery and it's recurred and due to extenuating circumstances is no longer a candidate.

Anyway, so first. With regards to the spring . . . are you sure it is a cold and not spring allergies?  I have one kiddo that starts like clockwork every spring with this.  Just wondering if some prevention such as taking allergy medicine wouldn't help?  OTC products taking prophylactically maybe would be of benefit?  He gets spring allergies which are different than my fall allergies and has more to do with the flowering trees and shrubs our allergist tells us.  Just a side note for next Spring.  

So on to ideas to help you.  First, do you use something like Mucinex? This helps thin things so it will not 'stick' in your sinuses. My doctor swears by it and we do this at home.  It also helps prevent sinusitis, bronchitis and all those itis's. Drink extra fluid, keeps things running. Does steam help like a hot shower that is steaming (that you sit outside of) or boiling water on a stove?  When you do your nasal clean, do you use a netti pot?  

Have they looked at your anatomy?  Could you have a deviated septum? Do you have any polyps?  
Apparently we do have one thing here you can get.  Its OTC called Bisolvon (Bromhexine) and maybe because its not well known, I'd never heard of it.  So I'll definitely get some of that.  So what strategy should I use?

Use Bisolvon regularly during the spring to keep things moving?  And if I get a cold, use Bisolvon rather than a decongestant because the cold symptoms are more manageable than the thick mucus?

I think the lung/ bronchioles thing is probably because the mucus is so thick and copious that it gets into the very top of the lungs and is then really difficult to shift. probably also because I am heavy around the chest.

Yes unfortunately its a cold each year.  My husband has an incredible weakness for colds and gets 4 or 5 a year and I manage to avoid them as I have never been one for colds.  But every spring he'll bring in one of those super gushing sneezing head colds and even if I quarantine myself, I come down with it probably  because I am not managing to move any of the mucus in my sinuses.  

Years ago,  had an allergy test for something like 80 common allergens and none of them came back positive so I've never tried the allergy relief stuff as I'd always thought they were for A)  Allergies and B)  To stop you from having a runny nose which is the opposite problem.  But it may be worth a try.  What would I be looking for?  Antihistamine?

My nose is sensitive to food, weather, time of year, tiredness, temperature so I kind of thought, it must just be the way I am.  Having said that I never had any ENT type problems before about 15 years ago.

Neti pot no but I use one of those curved plastic bottles.  Went to see an ENT about six years ago and he was really brusque, told me I had no polyps but only looked down one side of my nose and it was what I'd describe as the clear side.    He said he couldn't see anything.  Don't know if what he did was adequate.

My sisters and my son have both had tonsil type stuff when young and I know that in each case they have been told they have very small passages etc.  My son surprised me because he is identical in body and head shape to me (my sisters are small) so it maybe that that is the root of the problems.  I just don't know why it started happening and unlike the others, wasn't a problem early on.

Thanks so much for your help.  Finding out there is something I can take is a big relief!

Avatar universal
you would be better off going to a dr that implements integrative medicine.i dont know where you are from but there is a lab called microbiology dx they will tell you everything that is in your sinuses with a simple swab test.they give you every level of fungus or mold and gram negative bacteria as well as gram positive .integarative drs will have nasal sprays made for your specific infections or colonization .also research nebulization of hydrogen peroxide and saline it will break up the biofilms and kill bacteria and fungi .nasal rinses are no good for people with polyps wich sounds likely for yousince nothing comes forward forcing water past the polyps to become trapped will only moisturize trapped fungi and make it flourish .mucus drips from the sinuses and that bacteria gets in the throat and can get into the lungs and cause asthma ,copd and other respiratory illness hence  apnea .the nebulizer will help you break up the infections and the stuff will start to come out .
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