It’s winter, and while I truly love the cold weather and occasional glittering snowfall, there is one thing I don’t love – sinus infections! No, let’s rephrase that to “sinus issues.” Having an infection is the epitome of my annual cold-weather sinus problems, but even the most minimal of sinus blockage wreaks havoc on my life.
I have very little hearing left to work with, and the minute my sinuses decide they’d like to build a little blockade, I honestly can’t hear. Like an ear infection, sinus infections often result in temporary hearing loss. And for those of us who already have hearing loss, the resulting loss is even more noticeable.
Sounds are more muffled than they already with hearing loss, and it can make wearing my hearing aids difficult. Depending on how severe my sinus issues are, the greater the chance of me not wearing my hearing aids. And it stinks, because I really want to! I need them to hear at work, to ensure I don’t get robbed walking my dog alone at night. To ensure that I am not exhausted by 2pm everyday.
But with my teeny-tiny ear canals, a sinus infection can make it uncomfortable, if not at times pointless, to have hearing aids in my ear. Sounds sound occluded and echo as the sinus blockade develops and my Eustachian tubes (responsible for inner ear pressure) swell up to close off the connection between my middle ear and my throat. My head and ears feel heavy as the blockage gets worse, and if I don’t catch it quickly enough (because, trust me, eventually you learn the pre-sinus infection signs) my whole head and neck radiate with excruciating pain.
The situation is escalated when I have a cold or the flu and my whole body joins in for a game of “let’s make Sarah incapable of functioning at all.” When this happens, my head feels as though it weighs 50 lbs, my neck is constantly sore, my ears are throbbing and stuffed up, and I walk around in a daze, constantly exhausted between fighting a cold and trying even harder to hear. I shoot for 10+ hours of sleep and still want to lay underneath my desk sometimes.
Sinus infections and colds make it even harder on my body to function. When I can’t wear my hearing aids, my bran is working harder than normal to try to process various sounds. [A lovely thing called “listening fatigue”] A cold kicks it into hyperdrive, forcing it to work overtime to help me understand what I hear, all while the rest of my body wages war on the cold invading my system.
How I deal with it:
- I buy Mucinex D or Mucinex DM. Don’t buy the stuff you can get in the aisle, go get the heavy-duty stuff from behind the counter. The big, thick orange and white pills. I am telling you, you will thank me!
- I buy Puff’s Plus Lotion with the Scent of Vicks infused tissues! They are soft and lotion like Puffs usually are, but they come with the nasal-passage-opening Vicks vapor rub scent (more commonly known as camphor). And yes, that is the complete name of the product.
- I drink a lot of hot drinks. Tea is my go-to, or hot, sugar-free apple cider. If I decide to ignore my ever-ongoing attempts to lose weight and get fit, I grab a milk hot chocolate from the Caribou down the street. Nothing makes you feel better like hot, chocolate milk with whip cream and mini marshmallows. (Yes, I am still a fan of my little kid tendencies. In fact, I indulge my inner child year round with that morning drink whenever the moment calls).
- I take naps. Lots of naps. I accept that my sinuses will be blocked, at least for a few days, and acknowledge that my energy levels will not be post-office-workout ready. I will want to immediately crawl under my heated blanket after walking my dog, grab whatever romance novel I’m reading at the time (most likely something by Kat Martin or Grace Burrows, though Heather Graham has caught my attention recently too) and read until I am tired enough to sleep…propped up vertically with six pillows.
Sinus infections are my number one enemy these cold winter months, and if you’re experiencing the same thing, I wish you all the best!