This fall, the air in Bellingham has been absolutely filled with pollen, mold spores, or something that is causing me to suffer from allergies more than I can remember. I know that in some places I've lived I have had allergic reactions in the spring and fall, but something in the air here in Bellingham has brought sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, and a nose that has been running like a faucet. This has been going on now for about two weeks. I finally gave in and began using some of my husband's allergy medicines.
First I started with ceterizine (generic Zyrtec) and found a little bit of relief, not complete, for about 3-4 hours. This is a 24-hour pill, so I was pretty unhappy with the results. Still sneezing, running, going through tissues at the rate of about one every five minutes. Next, I tried loratadine (generic Claritin) which worked a little bit better, but the duration of relief was certainly not the 24 hours advertised. I went on the Internet and then decided to double the dose of loratadine and was feeling much better, but I was still not completely free of symptoms. So, my next step was down to the local drugstore for some information on nasal sprays. I found out that loratadine is a much safer drug than ceterizine and confirmed this on Wikipedia. But in the end, the only drug that I have found to be truly effective is benadryl. It works quickly but doesn't last long, either. It is good for 3-5 hours for me, which is fine. I just take another one.
While I was at the drugstore, I saw a neti pot and sinus irrigation stuff for sale on the shelf, prominently displayed as being useful in treating seasonal allergies as well as sinusitis. My sinuses are not clogged, but of course the next thing I did was go home to watch some YouTube demonstrations of how people use neti pots. Well, as you can imagine, there were some hair-raising and funny ones. One guy had a video of him using a neti pot with the saline solution you're expected to use, then coffee, and finally showing him trying to use Jack Daniels (don't try this at home). He found that last one to be, um, intoxicating in all the wrong ways. One guy used an old workout water bottle. The recommended saline solution is non-iodine fine salt, a quarter teaspoon to eight ounces of warm water.
I bought one, and this morning when I woke I went in and brushed my teeth and used the neti pot. The warm saline solution goes in one nostril and out the other. It's actually quite soothing, in some obscure way, and I found that I didn't need the benadryl quite yet. While writing this post, the benadryl is six hours in the past, and I felt the familiar itching in my nose, so I quick went in and irrigated both nostrils. I'm still not sure I will be able to keep from using the benadryl, but I really don't like all these drugs in my system. Now this picture illustrates how it works, and I'm, if not a complete convert, at least willing to use it twice or three times a day to see if it does what it's advertised to do: clean out the sinuses and keep the allergies from taking over. The neti pot is quite inexpensive (maybe ten bucks) and some places sell pre-mixed saline solution with baking soda for soothing the savage nostril.
So now it's been seven hours since I last took any allergy medicine and have the benadryl armed and ready if necessary. Of course, it's impossible to know if I would be allergy-free right now without any treatment, because I can't very well do a double blind study with just me. I'll keep you posted, but I sure would like to know if anyone else has used this handy little pot with good (or ill) results.