The Great Sinus Situation of 2018

Oh, my lungs hurt? It’s the methotrexate. My ribs are inflamed? It’s the rheumatoid arthritis. My tongue is sore? That’s just the Sjogren’s. Your head is completely congested? That’s just your unrelated sinusitis.

Complications of rheumatoid arthritis: Everything seems connected to it

It’s hard to believe sometimes (because everything is always connected to my autoimmune condition) but I did have health concerns prior to it! Around the age of 16, I presented with an acute sinus infection that never went away. I was soon diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. I became one of the lucky few whose sinuses never drained properly after a runny nose.

My junior year of high school was especially bad. Every single one of my sinuses filled up and remained full for weeks to months. I missed school because of the intense pain, light sensitivity, and constant pressure.

I was too young for surgery so I got by on antibiotics and steroids for months at a time. Eventually, I was able to have the balloon dilation to open the sinuses and nasal passages, a slight scraping and some other procedures which I don’t remember. And they fixed the problem.

For the first time, (in what felt like forever) I wasn’t congested, I could breathe properly, I was not in pain and my nose didn’t drip! It was magic. (Okay, it was science, but to me – WOW).

An immune system weakened by RA treatments

When I was diagnosed and started the immunosuppressant medications, mostly Orencia, my sinus infections came back full force. If I was lucky, I only felt pressure in my head for a few days before the issue corrected itself (with a little help from steaming, blowing my nose constantly and avoiding allergy triggers). If I was unlucky, I got the gamut of symptoms and took antibiotics.

Over the last eight years, I’ve been relatively lucky only relying on antibiotics but starting this Fall 2018 I ran into a problem. I began to feel constant pressure in my head. My nose dripped continuously and occasionally I’d get the acute infection. Initially, I thought I’d just take the antibiotics but they didn’t help. It wasn’t until my balance was affected (and I was sick of being sick) that I saw a new doctor.

I had a CT scan (and met my yearly deductible at the same time – even for me 7 days into the new year is a record). I have an acute infection and it turns out a slightly deviated septum. It is almost completely straight which on its own wouldn’t be an issue except the turbinate bones are inflamed and the left one is pushing against my septum. This is causing a mild blockage that is impeding my breathing and draining abilities. Adding a tiny bit of fuel to the fire is my nasal cartilage is weak and collapses every time I breathe.

Well, I guess it wasn’t just my chronic sinusitis. I just don’t have the anatomy to keep myself healthy!

I am on antibiotics and a steroid nasal spray. I irrigate my sinuses twice a day. I am all set to have a balloon dilation. Later (sooner, rather than), I hope to get the septum repaired, along with treating the turbinate bones and adding a little support to the cartilage.

Managing instead of curing

Maybe a clear head is in sight! My doctor agreed this might all help for the short term, but, given my Rheumatoid Disease I am looking at managing the problem instead of just curing it.

Do you have any health concerns that were not in connection with your RA? Let me know in the comments!

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