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Sinus Infection or Allergies?

CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りのRegistered User regular
edited February 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
So for the past few months, I've had what feels like at least 1 sinus infection per month. It's becoming ri-goddamn-diculous.

I thought that it may be mold in my apartment, as it looked like I had some around the window (there's a lot of moisture builtup around that area due to Japanese building practices) and cleaned it up as best as I could, since the window goes higher than I can reach.

Even so, I still get sick. The only other difference between now and last year is ... my girlfriend. I don't know if it matters much, but she has cats back home (obviously not here in Japan). Now, I've never really had allergies, but my mom was horribly allergic to cats for years, as well as having pretty bad seasonal allergies. She had to get allergy shots, but now she's totally fine and may have a little hayfever, if anything at all. I've never really had much in terms of allergies, but I hear that they can kind of come and go sometimes. So, I'm wondering if my girlfriend had brought pillows or something from home, could any cat hair still be there that would be giving me these as allergic reactions? She noticed that if I stayed at her place, I got sick a few days later. She usually stays at my place on weekends, but I still get kind of sick either way. It doesn't seem to be consistant, really, which is bloody annoying.

Any suggestions for treatment besides a doctor? I'm not opposed to going, but it would be nice if there was something that meant I didn't have to deal with a Japanese doctor again.

Oh! And, maybe this is part of the reason this time, is that Sunday I went to play soccer and frisbee with friends, even though it was a little chilly out at a park. I ended up just running around in a t-shirt and jeans for a lot of it, but maybe the cold still got to me somehow? I'm just kind of at a loss, as for my entire life I only get sick about twice a year - October/November and February/March, and it's usually just a sinus infection or small head cold.

Thanks for any help!

Cokebotle on
工事中

Posts

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I can't comment on possible causes or treatment, but I can say that I had a bitch of a cold that evolved into a two-week sinus infection, and the doctor's visits (which I was dreading) were pretty painless. They prescribed decongestants and short treatments of antibiotics without hassle.

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Try taking an antihistamine. If that doesn't help, try a decongestant.

  • ReitenReiten Registered User
    edited February 2009
    Getting a sinus infection treated in Japan can be a real pain. They'll keep on telling you that it's just a cold. First, that mold is a serious problem, especially if it keeps on coming back. Second, demand antibiotics. They're not 100% effective w/ a sinus infection, but they're about the only thing that a doctor can give you that will help. Also, you need to start cleaning out your sinuses with a saline wash. You can buy them in stores or create your own with those sinus pots (they look something like a small tea pot) or just snort some warm homemade salt water from a spoon. I've suffered from these things before and the above were the only things that have ever helped me long term (a moldy Japanese apartment was even in the picture).

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Never demand antibiotics.

  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Thanatos wrote: »
    Try taking an antihistamine. If that doesn't help, try a decongestant.

    Do this ^^

    Let us know how it goes.

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Never demand antibiotics.
    That was useless.

    As sinus infections tend to be bacteria caused, demanding antibiotics isn't a bad idea, especially with how Japanese health care occasionally dodges around providing actual medicine for a problem. How long have you been there? You still might be dealing with bugs your immune system isn't quite familiar with.

    As for cat allergies, if she's washed her belongings I wouldn't expect there to be a significant amount of dander or hair left to trigger allergies. Do you know anyone with a cat? You can see if it sets off an allergy attack.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    bowen wrote: »
    Never demand antibiotics.
    That was useless.

    As sinus infections tend to be bacteria caused, demanding antibiotics isn't a bad idea, especially with how Japanese health care occasionally dodges around providing actual medicine for a problem. How long have you been there? You still might be dealing with bugs your immune system isn't quite familiar with.

    As for cat allergies, if she's washed her belongings I wouldn't expect there to be a significant amount of dander or hair left to trigger allergies. Do you know anyone with a cat? You can see if it sets off an allergy attack.

    Demanding antibiotics without knowing what the cause is could ultimately be dangerous, retarded, and furthers the net effect of bacterial immunity to common antibiotics.

    We could all go "yeah it could be bacteria based" but without actually knowing you'd still be retarded. It could very well be a cold, or even the flu. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a virus. However we can't rule out fungi, or other common bacteria. Without knowing what we have, you could worsen the problems by haphazardly taking some penicillin.

  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime "We're ready to believe you..." FireSideWizardRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Sinus Infection or Allergies?

    Honestly, it's probably both. I suffer from bad allergies - and when I am not on my medication I get sinus infections. They kind of go hand in hand.

    If you do have allergies try to get on Alegra (fexofenadine) and a nasal steroid like Nasonex or Flonase.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    They often do. I'm wondering if it's just sinus pressure from allergies myself.

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I know how you feel OP. If you can pick up Zyrtec, do it. That and Afrin CR saved my life. Also make sure your bedroom isn't too dry/dusty. Whenever I clean my room I tend to feel better with allergies.

    But I get a sinus infection with allergies with a bad asthmatic reaction every month or so, so I'm getting used to it. :P

  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Sorry it took me a while to get back (living in Japan and all). Also, I'm 100% sure this is now a sinus infection, because the colors coming out of my nose are not natural.

    Thanks for the advice all! I'm gonna hit up a doctor Friday after work if I'm not better by then (have some other stuff I need to do, and now that I'm sure this is an infection, I know what I need to do in the meantime). I'm kind of wary of the doctor that's near me, though, due to the last time I went there... (ended up having a kidney stone, and he kept poking my kidney repeating "oh, so this hurts?" "yes you dirty motherfucker, stop poking there!")

    I've been here in Japan for about a year and a half now, so there shouldn't be any odd bugs that my system is still working out.

    I usually try the salt water wash, but I just finished my "day 2" of Afrin (my mom sent 2 bottles for me a while back) and I don't wanna do something potentially harmful by snorting salt water while on the nose spray, just to be safe.

    I checked my window again last night, and it was pretty much clear of any mold. There was a small area that I, for some reason, didn't get when I cleaned so I'll reclean there tonight. I did notice some in my shower behind the shower door, which I'm going to clean up tonight, as well, after I buy some more cleaning spray. The humidity here is obnoxious sometimes...

    As for the cat thing, I talked to my girlfriend last night, and she didn't bring much with her from her house. She bought some new stuff and brought those, but never used them at home, so I don't think it's a cat allergy after all.

    Sorry for the weird, haphazard posting, but I'm trying to respond as best as I can! One other thing I'm considering doing is seeing if I can find a HEPA filter here, does anyone have any experience with those?

    Thanks again for all the help!

    工事中
  • GafferoGaffero Registered User
    edited February 2009
    I cannot recommend this product highly enough; a thorough nasal rinse can do wonders where a simple nasal spray will falter. I'm no big fan of the spoon-snorting/Neti-Pots, so I do use this handy product every night to clear out my sinuses:http://www.neilmed.com/usa/products.php

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I have this:

    Sharp Air Cleaner which I bought recently and am very pleased with.

    A lot of foreigners have sinus problems and a lot of colds for their first few years in Japan. Humid summers, super-dry winters, too much aircon.... It does get better, though.

    In winter, the incredibly dry air can be a big problem and leave you vulnerable to infection. I think that's what has been happening to you. The machine I linked above is a humidifier as well as air purifier - since we started using the humidifier I've been feeling a lot better.

    If you go to a 耳鼻科 (jibika, ENT specialist) and he's rubbish, find another one. Don't bother going to a 内科 (naika, internal medicine specialist), and be prepared to try a few doctors before you find one you're happy with. I find Japanese doctors have very variable quality - some are shockingly medieval, some are awesome. It's worth shopping around to find good ones - word of mouth is very useful. Don't start believing the foreigner's moan that Japanese doctors are no good. There are plenty of excellent ones.

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  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Cool, I'll see if I can find one of those Air Cleaners near me (hopefully I can find one).

    The doctor near me is nice enough, and speaks ok English. He's a decent doctor overall, but after poking me in a painful spot a few times, he kinda went onto my "shit list". The doctor I had at the hospital was awesome, though, so I don't believe the whole "Japanese doctors are no good" thing.

    Thanks!

    I'll also look into that nose pot thing. I'd probably have to ask my parents to send one to me, though. Thanks :)

    工事中
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    They actually make a water pic attachment that works wonders. It's more useful than the pot.

    How long do your sinus infections last and how often do they reoccur?

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Amazon deliver COD if you don't have a credit card, or they can deliver to a local convenience store and you pay there and pick up the item.

    I know i sound like a shill, but they are so convenient that I order masses of stuff from them. Me, the Yamato courier guy and the Sagawa courier guy are all old friends now.

    Just googling.jp 耳鼻科 + your town will get you a map with all the local docs on there. I used it to find a paediatrician recently - very helpful.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • jefe414jefe414 Southern CTRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I used to have some pretty bad allergies and would get the occasional sinus infection (or at least some serious head congestion). I started using one of those nettie pots once a day and have not had a problem in well over a year.

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  • ReitenReiten Registered User
    edited February 2009
    Sinusitis is not easily diagnosed. Even in the US they'll often give you antibiotics if they have eliminated other possible causes. Provided that you go through with the full dose, it is not going to breed superbugs. I've been through really nasty sinus infections in Japan. The doctors kept on giving me cold and allergy meds. It took them ages before they'd give me antibiotics, which were what eventually brought it under control.

    If you're getting mold in winter, your problem most likely isn't the air being too dry. If your place is humid, then get a small dehumidifier (or use the "dry" function on your 'aircon' unit). If it is too dry, which can cause sinus problems, and you're still getting mold growth, then you might have some serious mold issues in your apartment/building. By the way, I've had to use a dehumidifier in Japan during the winter. The nice part was that it also warmed up the apartment!

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If there's mold present there's a very real possibility the sinus infection is caused by a fungal agent. Giving antibiotics for a fungal infection is a very bad idea, and does contribute to overall net immunity of bacteria. Imagine if everyone that had a fungal infection bullied their doctor to give them antibiotics because they thought they had a sinus infection. This was a very common practice about 10 years ago, and is the primary reason we have VRE and MRSA and other super bugs.

    Eventually he'll get better (as was likely the case with you as well) in time, because that's the natural body reaction to infection. He most likely needs an anti-fungal. Especially with the mold everywhere.

  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    The easy way to tell if it's allergies or sinus infection:

    Next time you have to sneeze/blow your nose, look into the kleenex. If the stuff that came out is clear, it's allergies- simply your body trying to flush it away. If it's colored, it's an infection- your body's trying to get rid of it by snotting it out.

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  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Alrighty, back to respond! :)

    For the mold thing, it isn't everywhere. There's a little bit in my shower and probably a little bit up where I can't reach on my window... and that's all I've seen. I cleaned my window pretty good down where I sit/sleep.

    For a dehydrator, I've considered getting one. There's basically a lot of moisture build-up around my window due to really cold outside + warm inside. I've started to not use my heater as much to keep down on it, but it still happens (can't help it).

    For ordering from Amazon, I have a credit card, but the bill goes to my parents, so if I buy stuff here I'd prefer to pay for it here. If I do COD, will they be able to make change? Or will I have to make sure I have the exact amount when they deliver? This would make my life a whole lot easier.

    Before this winter, I only got sinus infections like ... twice a year. October-ish and February/March-ish. This year, it's been about every few weeks, it seems. At least once a month. But, they last for 5 days or less, really. It's just hard to sleep when I can't breathe well, the last 15 minutes of class is torture due to my nose running, etc. I'm mostly just concerned that this is happening so often now. But, I'll look into a dehumidifier and that air filter this weekend and see if I can stop this crap from happening as much. Hopefully I can get them soon (live near-ish to a pretty large electronics store, so they should have both there, if not something similar).

    Thanks a ton guys :)

    工事中
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Amazon have change, or at least my guys do. Or just go to that big store.

    Have you used カビ キラー (Kabi Killer - mold remover) in your bathroom? It's like a basic necessity here.

    To be honest if you've never used any mold remover and you live in Japan and you have a little bit of mold your apartment might be OK. This country is like fungus heaven.

    If you want to dehumidify, that's really only necessary in June-September. An aircon on 'dry' helps, if you have one. Winter dryness is more of a health issue - everything in your nose and so on dries out and then you catch just about anything.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Hm... I'll look into that stuff. I looked up the word for mold and went to the store... and promptly forgot what the word was. It'll be nice, since the mold in my shower is kinda in the door jam, so having proper mold killer will be awesome as I can't scrub it REALLY well.

    工事中
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Cokebotle wrote: »
    Hm... I'll look into that stuff. I looked up the word for mold and went to the store... and promptly forgot what the word was. It'll be nice, since the mold in my shower is kinda in the door jam, so having proper mold killer will be awesome as I can't scrub it REALLY well.

    Kabi. that's the word for mold. Kabi Killer is a brand name - it's one of those bottles with the trigger and you squeeze it out, wait 5 minutes (not longer) and rinse it all off. I think it has ammonia in it, so you'll want to open some windows.

    Fucking awesome stuff. Like most men, I basically hate cleaning, butinsanely over-powerful cleaning products are fun because they melt the evil away.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    There's most likely mold spores in the air, a likely cause to a sinus infection. Get it all cleaned up, use a mold killer, and get a dehumidifier.

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