Ear, Nose and Ducts

Earlier this year I began doing the Insanity work out. And then I quit doing the Insanity work out. Last year, around November-ish, I started feeling not-well. I hedge a bit at using the word “sick” because for the longest time I was never full-blown sick. It was mild (and I mean really mild) congestion with the feeling that something was stuck in the back of my throat. Coughing and the constant swallowing in an attempt to dislodge whatever was stuck there resulted in frequent sore throats, and as time went on it got worse, but never really horrible.

I stopped doing Insanity because it seemed to get really bad while working out. I’d end up way more out of breath than I should be and coughing, and I’d get more congested. When I stopped doing the work outs, it got better.

On Halloween this year, we had a guy come out to inspect the heating and air units in the house. As usual, he changed the filters. The filters were really really filthy, especially in the second unit, the one that handles the basement/media room. When he popped that bad boy out and started changing it, he started coughing and so did I. That night I had a terrible sore throat and a head ache to go with the coughs, and by the next day I was is horrible shape. I stayed home from work the rest of the week recovering. While I got better, I never got well. I didn’t even return to the pre-Halloween me.

I went to the doctor and got some medicine to treat bronchitis, which I may or may not have had – but since I haven’t been given antibiotics for anything in nearly a decade I don’t think my taking some now is going to hurt anything. However, even with the meds, the coughing didn’t go away. So it was time to try something else.

On Sunday morning last week, I woke up and made a concerted effort to stay upstairs. Within a couple of days I was coughing less. It didn’t go away entirely, but it lent credence to the theory that the problem was allergy related, and that I was allergic to something downstairs. So, we called up a company that cleans out air ducts to come and clean ours.

They came on Wednesday and cleared a handful of trash bags worth of stuff from the vents. Dust and mold (probably the culprit), and nails and bottles and cans… it seems that when they built the house many years ago, the construction guys would drink a soda and then just put the waste in a nearby air duct rather than throwing them away. You’d think that perhaps a duct cleaning would occur when the house was finished being built, but apparently not.

With all that out of the way, I found myself breathing a little easier. And yet, I still have the feeling that there is something stuck in the back of my throat. I decide to give in to my 21st Century Internet tendencies and go to WebMD. For over a year I’ve been telling doctors that I have this feeling, and they’ve continually told me to take allergy medication. Over on WebMD though, I find that this is also sometimes a symptom of acid reflux. You see, acid gets out of your stomach the wrong way and into your esophagus, and your esophagus tightens to prevent it from going further or something like that, hence the feeling that something is stuck in your throat and why coughing doesn’t help (coughing is air coming from the lungs, and while air and food go in the same hole, there are two different tubes they travel down, so no amount of air from the lungs will help a problem coming from your stomach). I get myself some antacids which WebMD recommends to combat acid reflux, and lo and behold I’m feeling better. I wish I could get back the money I spent on doctors and prescriptions. Oh well.

And I’m feeling better just in time too! I’ll start exercising again this Friday… after Thanksgiving.


  1. Man – sucks to have the combo of both air tube (allergies) and food tube (acid reflux) problems.

    I have allergies alone and make sure the ducts in our house are cleaned yearly (cleaning was an available bundle from our yearly furnace maintenance plan, making it relatively cheap since you buy-in to do it yearly). Cleaning the ducts and making sure I change the filters every month-or-so (I am lax in this dept. at times) has been the best for my breathing in my current and previous homes.

    On filters, there are electric filters out there too – they plug in and apparently they work better than a passive one. I know my last house came with one, and that sucker was way dirtier than I ought to mention. It was nice though, you unplugged it, removed it, and washed it out in the laundry sink… let it dry, and slap the sucker back in.

    Good to hear you have both problems under some sense of control – maybe you’ll be able to return to “Insanity” some day soon. 😛

    1. Luckily the allergy is most likely due to the mold, which will be much easier to avoid than something like hay fever. I’ll definitely keep on top of the filters in the future though.

  2. If I’d have known you were having those problems, I probably could have clued you in sooner – I’ve had reflux for years. Fortunately, I have good meds too so it’s well controlled. Hope you get yours controlled too!

    1. I’m glad it’s all getting sorted out, but it is annoying that all the doctors were trying to find big problems instead of just treating the symptom on its own and that it might not be linked to anything.

      Incidents like these are probably why so many people end up defaulting to WebMD and self diagnosing.

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