I’ve got a nose for knowing when I have a sinus infection

Sometimes I know the causes for my EDS symptoms, and sometimes not

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

Share this article:

Share article via email
main graphic for column titled

I’ve learned to pay attention so I can tell the symptoms of my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) from other health issues.

For about a week, I’d been feeling extra tired and sore, but that’s not necessarily unusual. Getting out of bed in the morning was particularly difficult, and I struggled to wake up. But since chronic fatigue and pain are two of the hallmark symptoms of EDS, they’re hardly noteworthy.

I was also congested, but I have terrible seasonal allergies, so again, not particularly interesting. While I noticed these things, I just assumed what was causing them was a combination of EDS and allergies. I starting getting suspicious when I began to feel pressure under my eyes, and my ears felt crackly and congested. But when I got a weird taste in my mouth, I knew I had a sinus infection.

I’ve dealt with sinus infections most of my life. There was a time when getting three or four a year wasn’t unusual, but now I seem to get them about once a year. It usually takes my symptoms reaching a crescendo before I realize I have a sinus infection instead of just the typical symptoms of allergies or EDS.

The taste in my mouth, probably the result of a significant amount of postnasal drip, usually makes it pretty obvious, too. A few other important signs: My face starts to ache so much from the pressure that it hurts to lay my head on a pillow, and I have such a headache that it almost feels like my hair hurts.

Recommended Reading
main graphic for column titled

Massage grants some brief relief from chronic pain

Even when the problem isn’t EDS, EDS is still a factor

I went to the doctor and wasn’t surprised to learn that I was right; it was a sinus infection. My accuracy in self-diagnosing sinus infections is still 100 percent. The nurse practitioner prescribed an antibiotic and a nasal decongestant spray, and I was off to the pharmacy.

I was worried the antibiotic would upset my often-sensitive digestive tract, though, causing me to trade one set of symptoms for another.

Like many with EDS, it’s not uncommon for me to have digestive upset. In fact, I had no idea how common it is with EDS until I wrote about it last year and saw all the responses.

As an added wrinkle, I have to make sure none of the medications have mammalian byproducts or derivatives in them because I also have alpha-gal syndrome, a rare tick-borne disease that causes a reaction to a specific mammalian protein.

I take a probiotic supplement every day and I seem to be doing OK. I’ve also been eating nondairy yogurt each day as added protection. I know that after a few days on antibiotics, I’ll feel better, and I hope that by managing any digestive issues, I’ll be able to keep any problems to a minimum. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my plan works and that I’ll soon feel like myself again!

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Rebecca avatar


I find that most antibiotics increase joint laxity as well as mess with my gut, so I try to avoid them at all costs. I've found that a manuka honey nasal spray will kill sinus infections quickly and effectively for me. When the facial pain threshold is finally breached and I realize it is not feasible that ALL of my teeth could have developed horrid cavities overnight, I start using the manuka honey spray twice a day until everything has drained and the pain is gone. This only takes a couple of days. It stings a bit, but it is SO much better than all the gut and joint issues I have with antibiotics.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.