Moderators if you need to move this, please feel free - I'm not quite sure if this is posted here correctly.
I finally pegged down the fierce sinus pressure headaches I've had to the incense burned during Liturgy, Matins and Vespers and at my prayer corner - does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with this? I am on a constant antihistamine - the only one I can take due to high blood pressure -and it doesn't seem to touch the allergic swelling of my sinus cavities.
Any suggestions are much appreciated!
I just mentioned in another thread I have this trouble as well. I have a comorbid heart condition that can be affected by anti-histamines or a triggered asthma attack.
First minimizing your exposure is the obvious first line of attack. So maybe you can do without the incense at home.
I've discussed this with the priest of the parish I attend. When we sat down the first couple of times to talk, the most embarrassing thing to me I had to bring up was my reaction to the incense.
He said they use different incenses at various times and to let him know if I find myself less bothered on a regular basis and that they would be mindful of the use of that particular incense. Frankly, I very embarrassed at this suggestion, since I am at best an inquirer and the Church is covered in the blood of Martyrs. But the priest just laughed a little and said if someone has a peanut allergy, they make sure to let them know which foods after the Divine Liturgy have nuts in them. He also added I am not the only who seems to have the problem and others might and not be willing to mention it, so he was glad I brought it up and he would look into more "hypoallergenic" options.
What you can do without any problems: saline washing. This is can be done with a neti pot or nasal spray pre and post exposure and everyday. It works well for nearly everyone who does it. My allergist insists on compliance with this practice.
Diet. I think this can be very helpful, although more subtle and is controversial. One has to accept the inflammation hypothesis, which I think is easy enough to do. You sinus trouble is due to acute, local inflammation. Any chronic inflammation local or otherwise certainly is not going to help. So it is probably best to eat a diet which is healthful and less likely to increase inflammation.
The good news, the diet can easily be Lenten and eating in a healthy Lenten manner could be helpful. (As I have mentioned elsewhere, eating Lenten in wealthy Western countries can be easily done and also in a unhealthy manner.)
What are the hallmarks of a less inflammatory diet?
Higher amounts of omega three fatty acids within the diet: cold, deep water fish, grass fed beef, pork, chicken, not grain lot.
Low amounts of nearly all poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from vegetable oils.
High amounts of a variety of vegetables.
Low amounts of simple carbohydrates: sugar, potatoes, most grains eaten in Western countries, etc.
Plenty of sleep.
Lower levels of stress.
Moderate but not intense exercise.
Regular fasting (in the sense of abstaining from all food for regular periods). This could mean not eating until after 3 pm as was suggested in another thread here about keeping fasts. Eating just one meal a couple times a week. Abstaining totally a day a week.
Reduction in caloric intake in general if you are overweight.
All of the above to the degree you can.
I would also consult with my doc about using anti-histamines which are delivered locally and not as long acting as the medicine you are currently taking. Nasal spray, inhaler, etc. Explain to your doc you what symptoms you are experiencing and that you will not reduce your risk by avoidance. Medicine is about harm reduction. Balancing your chronic sinusitis against a slight elevation in BP is not a zero-sum game.
In short, in order of importance IME and others I have known with environmental allergies:
Doc consult about more localize anti-histamines.
Nasal saline irrigation.
Avoiding all PUFAs from vegetable (seed and nut oils). Olive oil is primarily a mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and is pretty neutral to your health. It is not the health wonder that the popular health that popular media would have you believe.
Getting enough sleep.
Reduce the stress in your life.
Cut the junk carbs in your diet.
Increase your consumption of cold deep water fish or grass fed meats.
Plenty and variety of veggies (not fruit).
Weight loss, if needed.
Best of luck. During a particularly long Liturgy I when I first visit an Orthodox Church, I had an allergic asthma attack which trigger a bout of angina.
You have my sympathies.
Best of luck and if you are suspicious of any of the above and write it off, please at least try the nasal saline irrigation.