Happy New Year, friends!
I hope you are finding time to take some deep belly breaths and relax after surviving through what can be a very hectic time of year (and one that can exacerbate digestive symptoms)!
It’s been one year since I moved from Portland to Austin to begin a new adventure that would allow me to take better care of myself.
As I shared before moving to Austin, I got completely burnt out running my own business (and all that goes along with that) while living in a moldy apartment. Oh and having to take several rounds of antibiotics for stubborn urinary tract infections (UTIs) that left me with chronic fatigue, allergies, and chronic yeast infections. Oof!
I wanted to update you on how I’m doing now and share a key health lesson I’ve learned and what treatments have been helpful in the past year. This is relevant to others with chronic illness and especially those with allergies, chronic fatigue, chronic yeast infections, and recurrent UTIs.
How I’m Doing Now
How am I doing? To put it succinctly: much better, but I am still recovering.
I no longer have daily chronic fatigue or yeast infections.
However, these symptoms pop up occasionally when I overexert myself or indulge too heavily in foods that I feel better not eating (like sugar- including maple syrup & honey, fruit, and simple starches such as white rice and potatoes).
I still have sinus symptoms (sinus congestion, runny nose, sneezing, post-nasal drip) upon waking most days, but it is much less severe. I can eat a little sugar and fruit here and there without as much of an issue as I used to.
Earlier this year, I saw an allergist/immunologist who diagnosed my nasal symptoms as “allergies”. He did skin prick testing and determined that I’m allergic to many plants, several molds, cats, dogs, and well pretty much everything (24 of the 29 tested)!
I’ve discovered many natural treatments that lessen my allergy symptoms (because I wasn’t into the conventional treatments of nasal steroids and anti-histamines). Keep reading to learn more about the natural allergy relief treatments that worked for me.
For long-term relief, I recently began allergy shots (it’s a similar idea to homeopathy, but administered by an allergist).
It takes 4-6 months of allergy shots to know whether it’s effective. I’m only a few weeks in, but the idea is that by slowly presenting the immune system with increasing amounts of the allergens, it can re-educate the immune system that these things aren’t trying to harm me! And thus provide permanent relief.
I asked my Instagram followers about their experiences with allergy shots and about 60% who had tried them found the treatment to be helpful. Only time will tell for me!
I’ve also learned that my chronic fatigue and yeast infections were potentially caused by my environmental allergies (which was also related to my mold exposure).
Read more about the connection between allergies and vaginitis here, here, and here. Since my allergies have been better, that’s potentially why the other symptoms have mostly disappeared.
Key Health Lesson- Learning To Say No
As a go-getter, I have always been eager to take on opportunities that come my way and say yes as much as possible. I was taught that was the way to success. And I do think it is a wonderful thing to challenge yourself and work toward goals.
But, I have learned the hard way that it is equally important to know and respect your limits. And to only take on as much as you can handle while still maintaining your own health.
This year that was especially important for me as I no longer lived near family who I could lean on for support if I took on too many responsibilities. So I committed to saying “no” to career opportunities that were outside of my full-time job.
And I’ve found a good balance this year. For me, that’s not committing to more than 35 hours/week of work (by the way, 32 hours is technically full-time, friends- but most companies don’t treat it like that).
That doesn’t mean I don’t work more than that in a given week, but it gives me a little bit of a buffer to nourish myself a little extra as needed. There’s just more to do and less hours in a day (more sleeping and cooking) when you have chronic illness.
Though it can feel frustrating to be progressing toward your goals more slowly than you might like, ultimately your body can only handle so much.
Recharging your batteries is important. Because if you don’t, your body will likely force you to. Consider this your nudge to prioritize YOU! It’s not selfish. It’s essential.
Supplements for preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs)
In addition to 1 year in Austin, it also marks 1 year without needing to take antibiotics for a UTI. YAY!!
Prior to this year, I had to take 4 courses of antibiotics over 2 years and it was incredibly frustrating. Because with each one, I experienced a worsening of the yeast infections that I developed from the first course.
The typical natural UTI remedies of cranberry, d-mannose, uva ursi (and more) never worked for me.
But this year, I discovered several tricks that prevented me from needing antibiotics for UTIs:
- Boric acid vaginal suppositories– Inserted vaginally after sex- not every time, but when I felt my immune system was not as strong. Boric acid suppositories can also help with chronic yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV).
- Megasporebiotic– If I felt a UTI coming on, I took 2 capsules, three times per day until the symptoms went away- usually that was with just two doses. Feel free to reach out to me if you aren’t sure how/where to order it.
- Sinatrol by Orthomolecular Products– If the Megasporebiotic wasn’t working after two doses, I took 3 capsules of this herbal antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory supplement that was helpful for my sinus symptoms. But since UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, it makes sense that it is also helpful for that. Other antimicrobial formulas may also work, but I found this to be a very potent and effective formula.
- Rest– Your immune system needs rest when it’s fighting. I listened to my body and rested when needed. I’m very grateful that my boyfriend is super supportive and when I’m not feeling well, he sends me to the couch with a blanket and pillow and takes over all cooking and cleaning responsibilities.
There were also a couple clinically-studied probiotic strains I took to help restore vaginal health. Though I can’t say I noticed a direct benefit for UTI prevention, it might be worth a try!
- Protodophilus Woman by Protocol for Life Balance– I took this orally with breakfast on and off for the past 8 or so months.
- Jarrow Femdophilus– I used both orally and the entire capsule as a vaginal suppository the days following use of a boric acid suppository. The idea was to help restore good flora after re-balancing with the boric acid.
Supplements for allergy relief
I tried a lot of things for allergy relief over the past year. But here are the top remedies that have helped control my allergy symptoms:
- Sinatrol by Orthomolecular Products– I take this occasionally when my symptoms get especially bad or I indulge too much in foods that bother my system. I find it most effective when taken at night before bed.
- Vitamin C + Quercetin by Integrative Therapeutics– these ingredients help stabilize mast cells which are the cells that release histamine and cause allergy symptoms. The Vitamin C can also help if you are tending toward constipation. I like to keep some in my purse and take as needed.
- Natural D-Hist by Orthomolecular Products– this product is similar to the one just mentioned in that the ingredients help stabilize mast cells. But if constipation is not an issue for you, this may be a better option because it contains a lower amount of Vitamin C. It’s another one I like to keep in my purse and take after meals, as needed.
- Endozin– a supplement containing zinc carnosine + glutamine. It is intended to help heal the gut lining (leaky gut) as it is believed to be impaired in those with allergies. I took 1 capsule nightly before bed until I finished a bottle.
- Anti-candida diet: diet has played a key role in controlling my symptoms and reducing the amount of supplements that I needed for symptomatic relief. However, I find it tricky to get enough food while avoiding triggering symptoms, so I sometimes end up eating foods that exacerbate my symptoms.
In an attempt to still enjoy nourishing, delicious food while avoiding so many foods that triggered symptoms, I developed many recipes compliant with an anti-candida diet. I would love to be able to share these with all of you, so I am planning to venture away from just sharing low FODMAP recipes on this website. Would you find this helpful? Leave a comment to let me know!
Comment below or share this post on social media to help others who are struggling with allergies, chronic fatigue, chronic UTIs, yeast infections, or bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Always enjoy reading your blog, and learning something new. I have been down the allergy diagnosis trail, and was skeptical about the shots approach. Recently, a new doctor decided to take a swab on my throat and decided to culture it. He found some pathogenic bacterial strains and concluded that my allergies might be the result of disrupted sinus microbiome. He has put me on a bacteriophage which will only selectively target the bad guys. Let’s see how this works. Also check out this product called Nasobiotex on Amazon. The reviews will tell you all about it.
BTW – how do I order Megasporebiotic? I have been cautious about using SBO probiotics thus far worried about their safety profile, but looks like you had a great experience on it. How did you run into them?
Thanks so much Sunny! It’s always good to know people actually read it and find it helpful =) And thanks for sharing your story with allergies and the Nasobiotex recommendation. I was skeptical about the shots as well, but it seemed like a low risk next step. I’ll be interested to know how the bacteriophage works out for you! P.s. I will send you an email with instructions for ordering Megasporebiotic.
Thank you Riley!
Allergy season is coming up so we will find out soon how my Neti pot experiement with Nasobiotex and pyo bacteriophage works out. I love the excitement that comes with a new hope in our healing journey 🙂
Also got your email. Keep up the great work you are doing through blogging your journey, and helping so many others including me.
New hope is definitely exciting! I hope your experiment goes well. I looked up the Nasobiotex and it sounds interesting. I wish there was more research on its use for nasal symptoms! Thanks so much for you support!
Yes please to recipes for anti-Candida diet.
Have you ever taken or heard of SBI Protect? Great product- IgG.
Thanks for letting me know, Christine! Strangely, SBI Protect didn’t work well for me- I tried it several times, but each time experienced acne, mucus in my throat, and constipation.
Shelley Kemp says
Hi Riley! Thanks for your update. I wanted to reach out — I’ve had sinus/allergies symptoms for years. Did allergy shots for 15 years. Weekly. I live in moldy/moist/damp southeastern PA. The most improvement I ever had was seeing a 4th ENT who finally diagnosed me with a deviated septum – not the worst she’d ever seen but still said it was worth surgery. It has made the biggest difference. This was after seeing many ENT’s who told me I did not have a deviated septum. In the absence of that diagnosis, I chased down every candida diet, herbal nasal supplement/spray, etc., nasal washes with my head in warm water with sea salt & iodine, everything, putting kimchi up my nose. I am feeling much better in this area so much better that I stopped allergy shots. I take Quercetin by Source Naturals now. There’s a loading dose. I get by with 2 per day now. That would be about 2 G of quercetin daily. It’s made a big difference. No longer do I have mucus in the back of my throat & I no longer have a closed sinus cavity every night — which I had for over 17 years. I was exhausted. Just wanted to share this. I wish you healing & wellness.
Thanks so much for sharing, Shelley! I’m so glad you found things that have made such a huge difference for you! The allergist did refer me to an ENT for evaluation- the ENT said I have a deviated septum, but it was minor and she wouldn’t recommend surgery. I take quercetin, but find it makes my digestion a little too good (which then causes potassium loss) if I take enough to control nasal symptoms. For me, finding a balance between diet & supplementation has provided the most relief!