Posted by: cynewulffe | October 11, 2009

Smell and Taste; Piecemeal

It’s been 3 1/2 months since my surgery on both maxillary sinus openings. It’s been 1 week since my first post-sinus infection has been treated. I am not congested and have nothing really causing me problems. I am currently going through a bout with bronchitis, but besides some questioning with headache and ethmoid pressure, it’s irrelevant.

I can occasionally smell things. Sometimes I expect to smell something but nothing happens, other times I’m surprised. The occurence is irregular and the longevity is short. But at least there is some smell at times. There is no rhyme or reason for instance. Spicy or sharp pungent smells are no easier to smell than bland ones. I would estimate I smell 15% of what I used to, or expect to.

Taste is slightly different. I can taste many things, more so when I can breathe through my nose as I eat. Vanilla, chocolate, almond, and lemon are still very easy to taste. Chicken, rice, potato are very hard to taste. Tangy, sour, and salty foods give that sensation, but not actual taste.

I don’t know why this is happening, and I haven’t heard much about it from my limited research. I am being patient though. It’s been almost 3 weeks since I’ve been congested and sinus infection-free.

I also want to let people know that they should not expect this after sinus surgery.

But, I didn’t expect it, nor was I told about it, nor is my doctor overly concerned with this lack of taste and smell.

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Posted by: cynewulffe | October 6, 2009

Humidity Affects sinus pressure, pain, and allergies

Even after sinus surgery, I’ve always known that my sinus pressure and pain was partially due to in-home air quality. I’ve spent a lot of time researching air filters and cleaners, covers, animals, and plants. But I’ve never looked into the humidity levels. I only pay attention when winter comes and whatever I touch creates a loud and bright blue shock of static electricity. The dogs hate it when I try to pick them up. They make a run for it!

Looking at some of the research out there, it appears that having proper humidity levels inside the house not only helps relieve sinus pressure and headaches, but also helps prevent colds and influenza. Of course there are limits. Many sinus sufferers face problems with low humidity. That’s when influenza and colds begin proliferating inside. Having high humidity can breed mold and dust mites, which can aggravate and set off allergies.

Where I live, high humidity is never a problem. The problem is ever-changing levels outside during most of the year, and low humidity during the winter months at times.

Of course, it is an individual and family based decision, but most humidity levels should be set between 35-55%. I aim for 45% because of the severe allergies in my family (need to stay below 60%), and the sinus issues we all have (over 35%), as well as the fact that we have school-aged children.

75-80% humidity is the level in which dust mites thrive.

60% humidity is the level in which molds thrive.

Low humidity leads to an increase in the risk of influenza.

Posted by: cynewulffe | October 2, 2009

Sinus, headache, and allergy update

I had a very bad sinus infection. Great globs of yellow kept coming and coming. Then a cold joined in for a week, and then my allergies caused problems. I’m currently on day 9 of my antibiotic. Most of the sinus junk is out but I noticed a little today that was left. I also noticed that I still get a sinus headache and pressure. The pressure is about 20% of what it used to be and it’s generally around my eye and between the eyebrows:ethmoid. I probably had it before but the maxillary sinus pain was overwhelming. This is nothing. I noticed how the eyebrow pain radiates a little to the top of my head too.

As for my smell and taste, I still can’t smell much at all. This past week I smelled a little from a vanilla candle and a brownie mix. I can consistently taste vanilla, lemon, and a mothball taste from some vanilla additives. And chocolate! Some times I get a feeling that I am going to get overwhelmed by a smell. That is what many sinus surgery patients talk about. I haven’t smelled that much!

As fall picks up, I continue to sinus rinse 2x a day. I am planning on purchasing a humidifier this fall/winter because we get low humidity in our house, and for the past few years, we have had most of the sinus pain during those times.

Posted by: cynewulffe | September 22, 2009

Allergies, a cold, and a sinus infection

It has been a hard few weeks. When multiple things are happening, it’s hard to sort out what’s what. It’s so nice not to have sinus headaches and sinus pressure. I don’t have to guess anymore what type of headache I have or if I have a sinus infection. Since surgery, everything drains. That’s good.

The area I live in finally dried up. With occasional rains, grass gets a new life for a few days. When grass is in its almost “dead” state, there’s a lot of grass pollen swirling around and that results in me:

1. Getting itchy nose, eyes, and inner ears. Even the top of my mouth itches.

The result is that I start to get a runny nose and sneeze. More nose running.

2. My two sons both got a slight fever and were basically hit with a three day cold. I got it after them but it lasted for almost a week. Clear runny nose, stuffed up, constant running.

3. Unfortunately, due to either 1 or 2 above, or both, I started having yellow discharge. It started with small bits here and there, and now it seems that’s all it is. If I don’t blow my nose for an hour or so, it usually ends up to be a teaspoon or two. Nights have been spent shifting on both my sides so that the congestion drains from one side to the other.

Thankfully the cold is almost over. The allergies are bearable and better than they were (but here comes the rain!).

So after one week, I set up an appointment with my ENT this Thursday. I know that I should focus on the allergy side of it and take more drastic measures, but I’m tired of it! Aargh! We’ll see.

Posted by: cynewulffe | September 15, 2009

Complications due to Sinus Surgery: Article Review

I have a cold. It’s a lot worse than a cold before sinus surgery. This one has led to more stuffiness and yellow globs coming out (which is good). Of course, smell and taste is gone.

I came across the American Rhinological website article on possible complications due to sinus surgery. I believe that my surgeon vaguely mentioned the problems; basically the one about cranial puncture (which is very rare). The anesthesiologist was handled more carefully and clearly.

This article makes it very clear that you must go through all of the allergy-related and medicinal avenues before surgery. I agree. I took my time going through them (2 1/2 years) and I feel confident that surgery was the best option for me.

The complications were handled clearly and developed well: bleeding, anesthesia, intercranial(brain), smell, voice, future infections, and small secondary surgeries.

The site itself may be of interest to those suffering from allergies or sinus related issues.

Posted by: cynewulffe | September 10, 2009

Post Sinus Smell

I was talking with one man who had surgery and it took him a month to recover as well. He had frontal surgery –  between eyebrows above nose. A lady I worked with said that she had the same surgery as me (maxillary) and whenever she smelled chemicals, it made her deathly sick.

There seems to be a lack of good information about this. The library should be the first stop by people looking for this surgery. I didn’t do that. I relied on the “wealth” of info on the internet and that was a problem. Knowing what I know now…I still would have surgery and even having the info would not have helped me much; but I wouldn’t have been so scared or mad at times.

Recently my 1-2 week allergy attack ended. The congestion left (interesting that it occurred after camping when I was away from the valley grasses and nearer to mountain trees and fresh air) and with it, the sinus related gobs that were being processed. Not only can I breathe clearly again, but my taste is returning. In the past 4 days I’ve been able to taste mint and watermelon gum, my chili (the second time I had it), and fried eggs just a little. Vanilla additives in foods are easy to spot (I love root beer now).

Yet, the smell is not there. At all. I don’t think I’ve smelled much at all. With taste, I could still sense tanginess, sourness, spiciness, and sweetness, but with smell, it doesn’t have sensations in the same way. I almost thought I smelled a few things last week (previous post) and while hiking thought I smelled a pungentness which my wife said smelled strongly of poo, but that’s it.

Taste: 40%

Smell: 1%

Posted by: cynewulffe | September 5, 2009

Sensory Memory

I was jogging at the track yesterday when all of a sudden I thought I smelled cigarette smoke. Not a wood fire, or chemicals, but cigarette smoke. Now I’ve jogged at that track hundreds of times and no one ever smokes. On this particular night, I couldn’t see anyone. No one was around too. So, was there actual cigarette smoke. Maybe. But on the other hand it could have been something that set off that memory, or activated that sense in my body which led to the memory of cigarettes smoke. It happened again later on where I thought I smelled strong body odor. Now that is paradoxical because I was jogging, but I was fairly fresh and it was cool that night. It was very strong and the type of body odor is not common to smell when jogging. I’m hoping that this indicates that my olfactory system (taste and smell) is starting to fire again, but it could also mean that it’s messed up. I don’t understand how? The operation was located in my nose but going to the sides. The olfactory gland is not near that as far as I know. I understand that the nerves near the surgeries connect to the olfactory system, but you would think that it wouldn’t affect it that much.

I also noticed this past week that I  could taste vanilla flavoring in root beer sodas. That was different. I also noticed that if it’s been a while since I drank or ate, that if I chew gum, the flavor (mint) is discernable. That’s good news too. Still, I don’t feel that I have more than 15% taste and virtually 0% smell.

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