I’ve been plagued by sinus infections for most of my life. My long struggle with these upper respiratory infections is what masked the symptoms of Menieres for me for many years. My first vertigo attack was triggered by my aggressive attempts to clear what I just knew had to be an ear infection from my head by running water into the ear that was giving me pain, the ear that felt like it was a full balloon of water about to burst inside my head.
I didn’t know what part of my head had an infection in it, I only knew that the pain was always in the left ear. When I would go in to see doctors they would either discover that I had a sinus infection, or they would give me antibiotics because I insisted on having them when the symptoms would occur. Later on, when I would insist it was an ear infection, the doctors could never find evidence of an ear infection.
I eventually fell in love with:
Until the insane war on drugs took away my favorite allergy treatment medicine, that is. The federal and state governments know exactly how much pseudoephedrine I still take because they make me sign for it and track my usage every time I buy more. Guaifenesin I can buy by the truckload. When it comes to pseudo I have to count pills and make each one count. Forget ever seeing my beloved green gelcaps again.
As to how I discovered I had other serious health problems? A funny thing happened on the way to the chiropractor one afternoon. Caught in traffic one hot summer’s day. Livid at the delays and the time away from my beloved architecture practice I finally screamed my way into the parking lot and stomped into the waiting room. The nurses tried calming me down at that point so they could check my blood pressure before starting the rituals of chiropractic quackery. Then they tried calming me down again and they tried checking the blood pressure again. Then they called someone else over to check it a third time. They couldn’t figure out how I hadn’t had a stroke already with blood pressure as high as the readings they were getting said I had. They wouldn’t even let me leave their office without taking something to bring the blood pressure down.
So it was goodbye pseudoephedrine for me. High blood pressure is deadly and pseudo can kick up your blood pressure. No more decongestants of any stripe, which made dealing with allergies and sinus infections into something akin to slow torture. This lead almost directly to my first attempt at surgical intervention.
I underwent septoplasty with turbinate reduction about five years after giving up my daily pseudo doses, right after the weekly vertigo attacks started. The thought at the time was that getting the sinuses to work properly would help with the allergies, and that would help with the vertigo. Sadly, it had little effect on the Meniere’s symptoms but it did ultimately solve many of my issues with breathing and chronic sinus infections.
Even after I had discovered that Meniere’s disease was a thing in 2003 I still thought that my allergies had to have something to do with the manifestation of my symptoms when and where they did. They seemed to correlate to a degree that simply defied any explanation that wouldn’t create a shared cause.
Meniere’s, as I’ve explained many times on this blog, is basically idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops; which means that it is a fluid imbalance in the labyrinth of the inner ear that cannot be explained by any known cause. One of the suspected causes is immunological disfunction, which is why I’m talking about Meniere’s at all in this article about treating allergies.
An allergic reaction produces an inflammation of the skin or other tissues of the body. It is caused by your immune system attacking an invader in your body that isn’t something that the immune system should waste it’s time on. Inflamed tissues swell, changing fluid pressures in the body as well as cutting off airways and doing other nasty things that make the sufferer’s life shorter and more miserable.
Betahistine has a histamine interaction that is not well understood and that is why it has an effect on Meniere’s symptoms for some sufferers, or so it is thought by people studying it. As the title of the post suggests, histamines are all tied up together in allergic reactions that I just barely understand myself.
Histamine is a chemical, known as a biogenic amine. It plays a role in several of the body’s major systems, including the immune, digestive, and neurological systems.
The body gets all the histamine it needs from its own cells, but histamine is also found in certain foods.healthline.com
I only passed high school organic chemistry because there was a nerdy girl that I befriended in class who was willing to help me pass the class as long as I didn’t bring her grade down by screwing up the experiments. I did my best not to screw up her averages, and she managed to get me through that class. I still only barely understand what any of it meant.
I just know that I have allergic reactions to many things around me and that the Meniere’s treatment that has produced the most effect for me is a treatment that alters the bodies histamines in some way that works for me. That’s it. That’s all I know about it. I’ve had every test that I and my various doctors can think of that might point towards a cause for the symptoms I’ve suffered from for decades now. All of them have come up negative, which means I have the symptoms but not any of the known causes.
One of these days they will come up with a test for some other autoimmune-related ototoxic reaction for which there is a new treatment, and that test will be positive for me. When that happens I will have a name for what ails me and a cure for it too.
I often wonder these days, what might have happened with my hearing if I had started taking Betahistine twenty or forty years ago instead of just three years ago? Would my hearing be better? Would I still have a job? Would I still be the asshole I was back then? Hard to say.
I still take guaifenesin and Claritin on bad allergy days. Flonase and azelastine sprays in each nostril twice a day. (Those two are my latest allergy treatments) They seem to help with keeping the sinuses clear. I wear a mask outdoors even though masks annoy the hell out of me. I take Betahistine 3x16mg every day.
I also rinse my sinuses semi-regularly with a neti pot.
The saline rinse for your sinuses can be made at home. you don’t have to buy it pre-made and measured from the neti pot manufacturer.
To make your own saline, mix the following in a clean container:
1/2 to 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt, such as pickling or canning salt (iodized salt can irritate the nasal passages)
Pinch baking soda (added to prevent burning; you can increase the amount as needed)
1 cup warm water (distilled or previously boiled water)
Then, place the above mixture in a clean Neti pot or sinus rinse squeeze bottle, or draw up into a nasal bulb syringe. The most convenient way to perform a sinus rinse is in the shower, but may also be performed over a sink.verywellhealth.com
Just don’t forget to shake the mixture. I’ve done that a few times. When the salt crystals hit your sinuses you will realize your mistake but then it is too late to prevent the burn.
The latest round of allergy tests altered my understanding of my allergies. I have always assumed I had seasonal allergies because there are clearly seasons with my allergic reactions. This appears to not be the case after all.
From what I currently understand, I do have allergies but they are year-round allergies that are exacerbated by the crap that gets in my borderline asthmatic lungs every Spring and Fall. Simply wearing a mask twenty-four hours a day will eliminate the seasonal appearance of my allergies. This has been roughly confirmed over the CoVID years through direct experience, much to my utter disgust. So the masks are here to stay for me.
It’s also CoVID that has underscored my belief that my core issue is immunological. Every vaccination that I get makes me sick. The pneumonia vaccines were just the start. The CoVID vaccines have all been multi-day pain/fever sessions that I gladly endure, just as I do for flu vaccines, gladly endure in exchange for not getting deadly infections of those viruses.
The first Shingrix vaccination made all my joints hurt for almost a week. The second one was a breeze by comparison, causing almost no pain but still causing fever, lethargy and borderline vertigo for a few days. Vertigo I get with almost every vaccination; whether this is stress related from worrying about the needle or is directly connected to the hacking of my immune system remains unclear.
What is clear is that my reactions are more severe than those experienced by most people given these shots. I really wish I knew why this happens, then I might know what causes Meniere’s for me.