Thursday, September 11, 2014

Alkalol - my nose's new BFF

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER:  I'm not a doctor.  I'm just talking about what has worked for me in the blog that follows.  Talking with your own doctor before trying something new is always the best way to go!

So I have a few new health discoveries I thought I'd share with the world.

But first, some non-health-slash-"normal"-people-news: ... I've officially started my last semester of school EVER!!  SWEET!!  I wrapped up my internship at Legal Aid at the beginning of August.  It was a really hard decision to leave and not stay through this last semester, but I had a legal ethics exam to study for at the beginning of the month (which I recently found out I passed - woohoo!  Some group of unknown people somewhere consider me ethical enough to practice law!) and I have 15 hours (6 classes) this semester.  As much as I loved working there, I wanted to make sure my body wasn't pushed too hard for the rest of the year after what I went through back at the start of the summer with my health.

So now that we're back on the health topic - I've made a few semi-important health discoveries over the past month I wanted to share with the world.

Today's topic is....Alkalol! (when you first mention this to someone else, be prepared for them to assume you are drunkenly pronouncing "Alcohol") It's an over-the-counter nasal rinse that includes a blend of menthol and natural oils that acts as a mucus solvent, among other things.  I've started adding about a tablespoon to my daily sinus rinses, and I'm pleased to say I can tell a difference!  

I was getting frustrated because, despite doing nasal rinses twice a day almost religiously, and despite just having had another sinus surgery back in June, I could feel a huge chunk of hard gunk building in my left sinus.  It got so distracting that I reached a point where I would *fantasize* (I'm using that term loosely here) about going to the ENT and having him reach up my nose with those long tweezer-things, and pull out that hard glob, no matter how much it hurt, because the relief would be worth it. (sorry, I know that's disgusting - but such is the world of CF!)   So I started googling, desperate to find some other kind of way to break up gunk in your nose.  I found the blog of one CFer who said she'd had horrible sinus problems, and her new ENT had given her a new combination therapy to try:  Alkalol mixed in with her normal sinus rinse, as well as a few drops of baby shampoo, followed by a saline spray in each nostril that consisted of a bottle of saline that had two singular tablets dissolved in it.  She claimed it had done wonders for her.

The baby shampoo part freaked me out a little, but apparently it's a for-real thing.  (Here's a mostly-respectable-looking study done on it and published in the American Journal of Rhinology)  I did some more research, and found other CF patients who had been put on this particular combination therapy (or one very similar) and been happy with the outcomes.  So I decided to give it a try.  I headed to my local drug store, bought some Alkalol, a travel-sized baby shampoo, and a generic saline nose spray.

The first few nights, my nose felt "refreshed" right after I'd done the rinse, but I was incredibly stuffy all night long, for several nights in a row.  That's when I decided I'd tried too many new things too quickly.  I'd originally mixed 1/4 cup of Alkalol with 3/4 cups of water and my normal sinus rinse packet, with a few drops of the baby shampoo.  As one CF patient stated in regards to this mixture, it "burned with the fire of 10,000 suns," but the burning quickly gave way to the pleasant, refreshing openness only menthol can create.  I then followed it with the singulair/saline spray.  I think the mixture was just too much, too quickly, though, because my nasal passage would then be inflamed and stuffy all night long.   I cut out the baby shampoo completely, as well as the saline spray, and scaled back to around a tablespoon of Alkalol mixed in with the sinus rinse.

AND IT'S WORKING!  Not only is my nose no longer stuffy all night, that big chunk of gunk has started to break up and clear its way out!  It took about a week of using the Alkalol mixture before I started to notice a difference, but sure enough that hard piece of gunk that had been bothering me for weeks started breaking up and clearing out.  It feels so much better!  Whatever combination of ingredients in the Alkalol that acts as a mucus solvent is just what I needed to add to my sinus clearing routine.

I think I'm going to eventually try to work my way up to the 1/4 cup Alkalol to 3/4 cup water ratio, and possibly add back in the baby shampoo, but for now I'm happy with my diluted product.

The only negative about Alkalol I've found is that it contains "all natural ingredients".... and caramel color.  I think that is super random to include in a nasal wash.  However, I personally am not particularly freaked out by the use of caramel color, especially in whatever tiny amount is added to give this rinse a super-light-brown color, but if that's the kind of thing that bothers you, just be aware it's in there.

That's all for now.  I'll be back soon with one of my other new "discoveries!"

Here's a link to the Alkalol website.