Thursday, January 13, 2011

I have chronic sinusitis, rhinisitis & a sinus fungal infection. Ugh!

I've had major sinus issues for the past 15 years of my life, maybe longer. I ended up having major sinus surgery in 1999. I had been chronically ill during college and ended up seeking the help of Dr. Michael Friedman with Chicago ENT. Dr. Friedman ended up doing surgery after a long course of antibiotics and other treatments were unsuccessful. I was well after the surgery. Yay for me!

Fast forward nine years to 2008 and I started to get sick again. This time it was a bit different. My lungs were affected (not just my sinuses). I took advice from many people. One of my husband's clients' who used to be a nurse told me it sounded like I had silent reflux and the mucus was getting into my lungs. I made an appointment with an GI Dr. at Baylor College of Medicine. I ended up having an upper GI performed, only to find out this was not the issue. I had very little reflux.

Still not knowing what was wrong with me, I woke up one morning wheezing. This completely scared the crap out of me. That had never happened before. I also have anxiety and this of course made me have a major panic attack. Not fun! I made an appointment with Dr. Subramanian at Baylor College of Medicine. After a number of visits and various tests, Dr. Subramanian diagnosed me with chronic asthmatic bronchitis. I just don't think he knew what to diagnose me with and that's what he decided on (due to my major mucus issue). He prescribed a bunch of asthma medication that didn't really work. Deep inside, I knew there was an underlying problem, but didn't know what it was.

I stopped seeing Dr. Subramanian and sought the help of Dr. Christopher Collaco with Advanced Allergy and Asthma Center in Houston. I had high hopes when I first met Dr. Collaco. He performed a variety of allergy tests on me and it turned out I was highly allergic to a variety of grasses, dust mites, cock roaches, mold and other allergens. He started me on Allergy Immunotherapy a few times a week. I really thought I would start to feel better. Like I said, I had high hopes. Allergy Immunotherapy is expensive ($30 going twice a week) for up to five years. That's super expensive and I don't have the patience to do something that long and not even know if it's going to work. No thank you!

I stopped seeing Dr. Collaco in June 2010 and made an appointment with Dr. Andrews of Houston ENT. Dr. Andrews performed a Nasaloscopy on me. This is where the Dr. sticks a narrow tube with a light up your nose. I've had more of these performed on me than I care to talk about. He also took some samples from my sinuses. The samples were sent off to the lab. My lab results came back in six weeks and the findings were pretty gross. I apparently have a fungus called cladosporium species living in my sinuses. Since I'm highly allergic to mold, this specific type of mold has truly wreaked havoc on my body and made me sick for the past few years. I completely forget to talk to Dr. Andrews after my labs came back. I've also learned that most sinus infections are caused by some type of fungus-so, if you suffer from chronic sinus infections, please don't suffer in silence. Ask your physician to test your sinuses for fungus. He/she will probably have to send the results off to a lab and you'll have to wait about six weeks. They actually grow the sample in a petri dish, or that's how they grew mine and that's why it takes so long.

Fast forward another six-seven months and it's now January 2011. I contacted Dr. Andrews last Friday and he prescribed a combination of the anti-fungal medicine, Fluconazole (generic for Diflucan) and Budesonide (generic for Rhinocort). I'm supposed to take both medicines and add them to a distilled water & salt solution in a NeilMed sinus rinse bottle. I've been using the NeilMed NetiPot for awhile, but I think the sinus rinse bottle is more forceful and gets the medicine into my sinuses a bit better. Anyway, I'm doing this "therapy" as it's called, three times a day for thirty days. I've also scheduled a cat scan at the end of this month. I guess Dr. Andrews will know how to proceed after viewing the cat scan. I'm hoping this sinus treatment will get most everything and I won't have to have surgery again (because I have self employed insurance now and they don't pay for anything).

Today is my second day on the therapy and I already feel like the medication is making my head feel weird. I don't know if it's because the fungus is dying off or what, which I hope it is. For those of you who have never had sinus problems and don't understand what it's like for those who do, bless you. You are fortunate and lucky. This stupid sinus thing had made my quality of life suck for the past three years. I've cried more times than I can recall. It's not fun. I just pray this therapy will work and make me well. I welcome questions, if anyone else is going through what I've been through.


  1. I hope you're feeling much better now. I understand a little about this. Wishing you and your family the best.

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