Halls for Hay Fever

August 12, 2011  |  Drug Reviews, Travel  |  , ,  |  No Comments

Pulling up to an American gas station, Sinus Sister feels the squeeze.

The clever marketers at Halls are nosing into the hay fever market. That’s what I discovered while pumping gas, of all things, over the border. There was a video screen at the pump, where I saw an ad for Halls cough drops, followed by the day’s pollen count (Thanks to the gurus at Accu.Weather). Apparently cherry, honey-lemon and Mentho-Lyptus are the go-to allergy flavours–although they should consider making Long Island Iced Tea and Mojito… They’re more summery.

Sucking on a cough drop is really more of a winter thing, to me, but I felt the ad working its subliminal magic. Maybe a Halls would combat the dry air conditioning in the car? Maybe it would help whisk some of the phloem down my throat? Maybe it’s just easier to justify than a pack of Starburst on a road trip? Yes, that’s it. Who’s the sucker, you ask? Good question.

ABC Allergy Report spells doom

ABC fires a warning shot about the upcoming allergy season. We hear ya. Allergist Dr. David Rosenstreich confirms Sinus Sister’s suspicion that this is the worst year on record for sneezers and wheezers. She hates being right.

if the season is anything like the spring allergy season, watch out. It turned out to be the worst allergy season in my experience…

Allergy Sister in the Globe & Mail

August 11, 2011  |  News  |  ,  |  No Comments

Sinus Sister finds a kindred spirit in The Globe & Mail. Meet Chantal Wiebe, who wrote a funny article about the misery of her allergies. She has the balls to complain about waiting five months (!) to get an appointment with a specialist, who suggested perscription medication.

The moment felt like a conversion, believing that I could exchange my suffering for the pharmaceutical promised land. Akin to Moses of the Bible, my 10 commandments of prescriptions were the laws to govern an unruly and difficult group of symptoms. In my naiveté, for the two years prior, I had treated these symptoms (runny nose, sinus congestion and watery, itchy eyes) with cold medications. The heretic suggestion of seasonal allergies had never entered my thinking. Allergies may have existed in the worlds of other people, but they weren’t in mine.

Hannibal Buress (Just For Laughs series)

Sinus Sister continues her celebrity hobnobbing…

Celebrity hobnobbing…or celebrity whoring? Either way, Sinus Sister is unashamed. She’s a big fan of Hannibal Buress, who writes for 30 Rock. Most TV viewers love Tracey Jordan’s unedited mind jabber. Yeah, that’s all Hannibal!

ALO Drink Review

August 9, 2011  |  Food & Food Allergies  |  ,  |  No Comments

Sinus Sister takes Chaz’s advice….

“Drink plenty of fluids to thin the mucus,” said Chaz, the dreadlocked God who works at the organic store. We bonded over a sneezing fit last week. I try not to worship people who work at holier-than-thou stores, but my default position is deference. If Chaz says drink, I drink. But gulping back tap water is rarely appealing and I pause before consuming 46g of sugar or, worse, high-fructose corn syrup. The artificial colour in Gatorade (windshield wiper blue) is a deal breaker, while the caffeine in Snapple Iced Tea makes my heart pound. What to drink? The refrigerated drink section in my corner store has seven kinds of Coke and sports waters that speak the language of nutritionists.

They all faded away beside a new contender: ALŌ Drink ($2.79 for 500 ml) The pomegranate and cranberry flavour is a pretty colour and the 100% natural drink is free of nasty chemicals. The sweetener, cane sugar, is the fourth ingredient listed on the label, where anyone with excellent eyesight can read this quasi-mystical claim:  “Some believe it [Aloe] to be the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. It’s still seen as a symbol of abundance, fertility, and fortune in many parts of the world. Native to the Middle East and cultivated in the Mediterranean and the Americas, the pomegranate has long been cherished for its distinct flavor and health benefits. Paired with the tart cranberry and real aloe vera juice, the pomegranate stars in our newest blend, ALO Enrich.”

Sure. Great. Whatever. Aloe vera pulp is probably good for us. I buy that.

If aloe jelly can heal a burn from a motorcycle exhaust pipe, it must be magic. But is it good to drink?

“SHAKE WELL’, it advised. So I shook the bottle and took a gulp. The little chunks of aloe pulp were a surprise. They registered as Jello and required a “chew or swallow” decision. CHEW. The first few mouthfuls were weird, but unquestionably satisfying. With 30% juice, this drink became my preferred mucus-thinning beverage for the summer. Never mind the marketing mumbo jumbo.

Warning from Sinus Sister: do not attempt to drink this through a straw. The chunks of aloe get stuck.

Top 15 Low-Pollen Flowers (Part 2)

August 8, 2011  |  Survival Tips  |  No Comments

Five more low-to-no-pollen flowers to fill your garden:





Get picky. That is Sinus Sister’s best advice for selecting flowers and boyfriends. There’s no need to settle for a garden, or a relationship, that makes you weep. A little research–and by “research” I mean chatting with the flower specialist at the nursery–reveals the best flowers for sneezers:

Crested Gentian are late summer bloomers, for lazy gardeners who don’t get their act together until August.Guilty! Double Peonies have big blooms that hog all the attention, while the Black-eyed Susan vine quietly attracts butterflies. Perennial Sweet Pea isn’t fragrant, so you can breath easy. It requires full sunlight, however, to thrive. Sweet pea grows well with roses, which have heavier pollen that doesn’t blow around easily (Ask for little Banksia roses). Foxglove are lovely, yet toxic. They do well in the partial shade, where their trumpet-shaped blooms bring some cheer.

Stay tuned for the final installment of Low-Pollen Flowers.

Pollen in Gippsland

August 7, 2011  |  News  |  2 Comments

Photo: Alex Coppel, Herald Sun









Solidarity and sympathy goes to our comrades in Australia, where a thick layer of pollen is covering people’s decks and cars across Victoria’s southeast–says Andrea, my sneezy buddy down under. She read about it in The Herald Sun, then sent word to Sinus Sister. Apparently a mysterious white powder blanketed large areas of Bayswater, South Gippsland and Wonthaggi this morning–or yesterday, depending where you live. One report of powder covering an 800m area in Wonthaggi caused concern for Country Fire Authority crews but after investigation emergency services said the powder was merely “harmless” pollen. Harmless? Show me your credentials!

“It appears to be a massive pollen dump,” said the Fire Authority Guy.

We pray for you, Gippsland.

Overdoing it on Benadryl? Who me?

August 6, 2011  |  News, Survival Tips  |  ,  |  No Comments

The narcs at USA Today are up in my grill. Yesterday, they reported (alleged) Benadryl abuse among allergy sufferers. Though Benadryl won’t cause organ failure in amounts higher than the daily recommended dose, “the big danger is its sedating side effects. That’s dangerous from a driving standpoint or certain lines of work where heavy machinery is used, for example.”

(My laptop is heavy)

People play loose and free with Benadryl,” says Ausim Azizi, chair of the department of neurology at Temple University School of Medicine. “There are a lot of side effects. One is loss of memory in the immediate period after taking it, and disorientation in older people,” he says.

Sedation? Memory loss? Disorientation? Bring it on! Benadryl’s foggy high is exactly what Dr. Feelgood ordered. It was my go-to antihistamine in Grad School, and I never outgrew (some would say “kicked”) its more pleasant side-effects. How much do I take? Can’t remember…What are you–a cop? Zzzzzzzz.

Brian Posehn (Just for Laughs series)

August 5, 2011  |  Celebrity Sinuses  |  ,  |  No Comments

Sinus Sister, starstruck













Some comics stopped tweeting long enough to talk! Thanks Brain Posehn, for being such a droll rascal….and using my last tissue.

Kleenex-Stepping Stone

August 4, 2011  |  Tissue Throwdown  |  , ,  |  2 Comments

Welcome to the beauty contest for tissues boxes.


From the Department of Protesting Too Much: this pattern was not featured because it matches Sinus Sister’s logo….No it wasn’t….The design, called Stepping Stone, is on a new wallet tissue pack from Kleenex®. It strikes me as an (unintentional?) tribute to artist Franz Kline, an American master of the black slash, circle and squiggle. His huge action paintings need to be seen live, full scale, so wander through the Art Gallery of Ontario to eyeball Kline’s iconic Chief painting, and save yourself a trip to MoMA.