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appear to trigger symptoms in a number of IC patients, especially
in the spring. Patients may experience allergies and/or increased
sensitivity to the environment, bladder symptoms and joint pain. Even
before spring flowers have bloomed, melting snow and/or spring showers
can bring on mold and mildew. Varying temperatures can also make climate
control inside of the home difficult. Patients may suffer with irritated
sinuses when the heat is on one day and off the next. Opening windows
to outside air can also cause sinus and breathing problems, as can
turning on the air conditioning for the first time.
When sinus problems
persist, patients usually take antihistamines. Antihistamines without
decongestants are known to relieve bladder symptoms in some patients
(tricyclic antidepressants, such as Sinequan (doxepin) and
Elavil (amitriptyline) contain antihistamine properties, and
the antihistamine Vistaril (hydroxyzine) is used as a treatment
for IC symptoms). However, antihistamines that contain decongestants
can cause bladder symptoms to flare-up. So can nose drops and sprays,
cough medicines and expectorants, and bronchodilator inhalers (some
patients seem to tolerate inhaled steroids). Because so many IC patients
are sensitive to medicines, it's often necessary for them to use prevention
and alternative treatments.
and Alternative Treatments for Spring Symptoms:
- Steam used
two to three times a day is actually be very effective for nasal
and lung congestion. The easiest way to steam is to sit on a chair
and lean over a sink of hot water with a towel over the head.
- Hot soup and
weak tea (if tolerated) can also relax and open nasal passages.
- Nasal irrigation
with baking soda and warm water can help to promote healthy mucous
membranes. Either a syringe (ask your pharmacist) or a Naso cup
can be used for rinsing. See resources at the end of this list.
Nasal irrigation is only intended for mild nasal congestion, and
should be avoided when sinuses are infected or inflamed.
- The nasal
ointment Boroleum can be swabbed into the nostrils to relieve dry
nasal tissue. Boroleum is a petroleum product and contains both
camphor and menthol, which may not be suitable for patients taking
homeopathic remedies or patients with multiple chemical sensitivity
- Humidity should
be controlled to promote a healthy indoor environment. Indoor humidity
should never rise much higher than 50%. A humidity gauge can be
purchased at Brookstone.
- Certain herbal
teas can help to soothe mucous membranes and loosen mucous. However,
many of these herbal teas can also irritate the bladder. Safer alternatives
include weak tea made from a little dried dill weed. Dill is good
for coughs. Dried sage can be used to sooth sore throats. Sage tea
can also be used as a gargle. Slippery elm and licorice root teas
are very soothing, however, licorice root is strong and not always
tolerated by bladder-sensitive patients. General aches and pains
that sometimes accompany allergies can be relieved with weak chamomile
tea (chamomile is a great relaxant, however patients with allergies
to ragweed should avoid chamomile). Tea made with thyme can be used
for the prevention of colds and infections. Thyme is also helpful
when used in cooked foods and so is garlic, if tolerated. All teas
should be tried using only one quick dunk of a tea bag or tea ball.
- HEPA filters
can remove organic substances such as mold and dust. Specialized
fumes and odors (toxic pollutants). IC patients should avoid ozone
machines for cleaning the air. Some IC patients may be sensitive
to HEPA machines.
- Warm saltwater
gargles a few times a day can help to soothe sore throats and coughs
(antihistamines should be avoided with these symptoms). Popular
cough drops may have to avoided because they can set off bladder
symptoms. Thayers Slippery Elm Throat Lozenges and Ricola Natural
Herb Cough Drops seem to be bladder-safe for some patients. Look
in health food stores if these cough treatments are not found in
local drug stores. Always try a new cough drop for only a few seconds.
Often a cough drop is not as irritating and still helpful if it
Naso Cup: Isabella
Boroleum - The
Vermont Country Store:
Exercise of the Month
Neck and Shoulder Stretch
Clasp and secure wrist with opposite hand.
A. Gently pull down on secured wrist and tilt head toward opposite
shoulder (ear to shoulder). Hold.
B. Same as "A"
with wrist now secured behind back.
and "B" with other arm.
Lifting chin or shoulders, arching low back and locking knees
is an author and IC patient & support group leader who has
been involved in IC work for years. In 1990 she published "Stretch
Into a Better Shape" and produced a stretching and exercise
video for IC patients in 1993. She is a specialist in Aston-Patterning
movement and muscle re-education.
over ten years of clinical and health care management position.
He is currently the Administrator of Maison Hospitaliere, located
in New Orleans. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Special Education, a
M.A. of Health Adminstration, M.A. of Clinical Psychology.
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