My friend and roommate has, in recent months, been suffering from severe allergies. Prior to these past few months, she never experienced any allergies that I know of.
27 yr old female, 5'8", 120 lbs, BMI 18.9 (she is currently underweight and trying to gain weight by increasing her daily calorie intake and drinking nutritional beverages such as Ensure and Boost)
Nearly three months ago she started to experience congestion, peristent coughing, and for a time she had a small "rash" under her nose (the columella?). The "rash" seemed to be just some irritation and inflammation that never healed due to her constantly picking at it and not giving it the time it needed to scab over. She insisted it was some sort of parasitic infection. She attributed all of the symptoms to a number of things she researched online -- fungal infections like aspergillosis, papillomatosis, rhinitis caused by mold, etc.
The only condition that I can verify is her deviated septum (the one nostril is visably crooked and resembles images online related to severe cases of deviation). She has been to the ER and/or Urgent Care two times, her primary doctor once, and an ENT specialist. During her first ER visit, the APNP barely glanced at her "rash" and up her nose before insisting she did not have a parasitic infection and was likely just experiencing allergies. Weeks later my friend visited an Urgent Care and they actually went the whole nine yards for her -- an MRI, CT scan (I think it was a CT PET scan, if there is such a thing?), some other tests -- and kept her there for nearly six hours. After all of this, they concluded that she just had very common allergies and nothing extreme (I'm afraid I wasn't there so I don't know the actual wording used).
Fast forward several weeks and she is being obsessive with her behavior. She bought several cans of saline nasal spray (because it states on the product label that the solution can be used "as often as needed") and uses them almost every hour, sometimes every 20 to 30 minutes. And each time she spends almost ten minutes blowing her nose nonstop, to the point that the tissues are covered in blood. I believe the bleeding is likely caused by the excessive nose-blowing itself, though I'm sure she believes otherwise. She is certain that everytime she does this, she "dislodges" something that she thinks is stuck up there, and suddenly can breathe more easily.
Sorry for the long question/story: I needed some advice/information before I approach her and try to discuss this issue with her and help her decide on a solution.
From the descriptions I provided, do you believe she is experiencing common allergies? Or perhaps she is correct in thinking something more serious is going on? Does it sound like this may be a psychologcal issue - the obsessive and excessive nose-blowing which I almost suspect is causing more harm than good? I should point out that my friend (I have known her over five years) has never been a hypochondriac but that her recent behavior seems to be the definition of a hypochondriac.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my question in full and for any answers that you may/can provide. I appreciate your time and patience!
- Samantha M.