Seasonal Sinus Headaches: Possible Pattern Recognition

Thanks to Facebook Memories and the fact that I whine online a LOT, it’s come to my realization that I get hit with sinus problems like a sledgehammer at this time every single year.

And that’s just an example.

I decided to take a sick day yesterday. I had the chills when I went to bed Sunday night and I slept through my alarm Monday morning. I decided my body was telling me to sit this one out.

I’ve been getting pretty crappy for the past two weeks, ever since my birthday. I’ve been trying to ignore it and keep up with my regular schedule, like I do every year.

It’s a sinus headache, and I imagine it would be debilitating to someone who wasn’t used to it.

For me, though, sinus pain is something I’ve had to learn to live with, I’ve been getting horrible sinus headaches regularly since I was a teenager. They’re pretty consistent, so I’ve become accustomed to the pain to a certain degree. I’ve had to; otherwise, I would have missed far more school and work than was acceptable. Powering through the pain is rather a forte by now.

If I don’t think about it, most of the time I can pretend it isn’t there.

Like clockwork, though, that becomes impossible every year as soon as fall hits. At that point, nothing works to make me feel better. Not Sudafed or any other type of decongestant. Not pain relievers. Not a neti pot.

All I want is sleep.

The better years are the ones when it doesn’t progress and become a double ear infection and bronchitis. Avoiding that is always the primary goal, so I take the decongestants and try to at least somewhat mitigate that very real risk. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

(I was sick the entire winter of 2012. In the early spring of 2013, after several rounds of antibiotics that somehow did not take, I suffered a burst left eardrum, an issue that still has repercussions today and is quite uncomfortable at times.)

This year, I’m determined to figure out the reason why this happens every year. Ear, nose, and throat specialists have given up on me. It doesn’t seem to be due to any allergen anyone can think of.

What if, however, there is something very obvious that I’m doing every fall that is making me feel ill, and I’m simply not noticing the deviation in my routine?

Perhaps there is some change in my behavior every year that I haven’t thought much about previously?

This first occurred to me a few weeks ago, when I busted out my favorite fall-themed scented candles and noticed a tickle in my nose when they were lit.

Okay then, I thought. Let’s try not lighting candles this year.

No dice. The seasonal sinus headache hit full force anyway.

Over the weekend, though, while looking at the containers of food in my fridge and thinking about what meals to make this week, I realized everything I’ve been eating lately is tomato-based.

Generally, I try to avoid making tomato-based dishes. Having a tomato-based meal once is fine; having a tomato-based dish multiple days in a row tends to not make me feel so hot.

In my fridge right now is the Slow Cooker Chicken and Sausage Creole I like so much, along with the Instant Pot Chili I rave about. (Eight Easy High Protein, Low Carb, Low Fat, Whole Food, Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Meal Recipes)

Ah, chili. I love chili so much. Nothing really says fall quite like a big hearty bowl of thick, meaty chili.

Wait. Oh dear… Do I make chili at around the same time every fall? Do I continue making it at regular intervals all winter?

Oh no. Oh, crap.

I looked through the past few weeks of tracked meals in MyFitnessPal, and sure enough… I started feeling crappy two weeks ago, and I’ve had at least one meal, usually two, that were tomato-heavy every day since then.


On the one hand… Ugh. Seriously. Shit. Goddammit. Fuck. I don’t wanna have to give up on tomato-based chili recipes.


On the other… Sigh. Fine. I’ll see what happens if I avoid tomatoes for a couple of weeks. I’ll do this experiment.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore and I’ll do what I must to make it stop.

It’s good I recently found the tomato-free Buffalo Chicken and Bean chili recipe and loved it. It’s not the same as the real deal, but it’s a decent substitute.

I’m NOT happy about this, though. I plan to whine. A lot.

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