Monday, August 2, 2010

A Family That Neti’s Together...

We are nearing the half way mark of summer.

Do you believe that?  Summer is almost half over already!  I’ve become increasingly aware of the shortening days.  My garden has passed it’s prime and most of the late blooming flowers are in full bloom now.  My tomatoes are fruiting, zucchinis are zuking and I figure it’s only a matter of a couple of weeks before we will be hearing the delightful sound of crickets at night as they embark on their mating ritual -- a sign of summer’s grand finale.

I enjoy Autumn so this is an exciting time for me.  I love many things about Autumn.  I love all seasons but the cooler months are when I feel my best.  Years of asthma and seasonal allergies have played a huge roll in fostering this preference.  And if this spring and summer are any indication, Jenna will likely develop this same love of Autumn for the relief it brings.

Allergies.  Oh how I suffered growing up.  They seem to have subsided over the last few years for me.  But for the first time, Jenna suffered this summer much like I remember suffering in my youth.  She has spent the past three months in a  near constant state of nasal congestion, sneezing and mouth-breathing at night, all of which makes for poor sleeps,  short tempers, and sucky blood sugars.  Just what she needs in addition to being awakened at least once a night for her routine blood sugar checks.

I’m not one for medicating without exhausting other non-pharmaceutical interventions first.  But there were a few times this summer I was forced to pull out the pediatric antihistamine medication.  It proved to be rather ineffective, but I had to try.  She was miserable at times.

So when Jenna was scheduled for a routine pediatrician check-up a couple weeks ago I was sure to mention the trouble she’s been having with environmental allergies this summer, especially after her hgA1c rang in at a solid 8.  This is a perfectly acceptable number for Jenna’s age but it has gone up from 7.5 three months prior.  I wondered if her allergies are to blame for the rise.  Dr. M agreed that this  could very well be the culprit.  He also agreed that antihistamines can be useless sometimes with some people and recommended nasal irrigation instead.

You read right.  Nasal irrigation.

Any time a doc recommends an intervention of some kind that does not involve a pharmaceutical, he or she scores big points with me.  But nasal irrigation?  For a four year old?  Really?!  If you aren’t familiar with this procedure, it is the practice of flushing out the nasal cavity with a saline solution and the help of a neti pot, syringe or irrigation bottle.

Now, I personally have performed nasal irrigation on myself many times for allergies and found it to be very effective and, in fact, quite soothing.  But it takes some practice to perform it without sucking back the saline solution and sending one’s self sputtering and coughing -- or worse, swallowing a glug or two of the briny rinse.  So I had some doubts about whether or not Jenna could master it.  I thought that if I could even convince her to try it, she would likely have an unpleasant experience and never want to do it again.  But out of desperation I was still willing to give it a go.

I purchased a pediatric sinus rinse kit and planned a tandem nasal irrigation party at Jenna’s bath time.  I reckoned I could demonstrate with my own kit at the bathroom sink as she watched from the tub.

So that’s what I did.  And in spite of Jenna and her sister laughing hysterically at me while I irrigated my nose in front of them, Jenna was eager to give it a try.  (I admit, I was laughing too and just as an aside, laughing is not recommended while you perform nasal irrigation.  Take my word for it.)

Jenna did surprisingly well.  She couldn’t quite get the steady stream of solution going in one nostril and coming out the other but she was able to squirt some up each nostril then expel it out again.  She repeated this enough times that the irrigation served its purpose and flushed out much of the allergens from her nasal cavity.  She had a peaceful sleep that night; it was the first sleep of easy nasal breathing she had had in weeks -- dare I say months.

So now, each bath time I arm her with her bottle of nasal irrigating solution and coach her again on technique.   And each time she does wonderfully and enjoys easier breathing afterward.

So, even though I suspect I have ventured dangerously close to “too-much-information” territory, that is what’s been going on in our household this summer -- that and a healthy dose of camping and beach fun.

But I’ll talk about that in another post.


Anonymous said...

My husband is a die-hard neti-er. But he would rather die than let me see him pouring stuff into his face.

Steven Lee said...

I love nasal irrigation. I have a special little thing I plug into a water pik that we use here. Works wonderfully, just don't put it on high stream or you might regret it!