It seems like I get recurring sinus infections every summer. and thats even with rigorous usage of both ear and nose plugs.i keep them attached to my helmet and ready to go. I always wear the earplugs no matter what, and only put the nose plugs on to playboat or at the top of a drop that has good probability of carnage. I really do dislike the effect on my respiratory rate as well, feel like i am more likely to start hyperventilating without being able to breathe through my nose. I pull em off asap, after any crux section, and it seems to work out alright that way.
I am religious about earplugs because of lifelong sensitivity to ear infections as a kid, from lots of swimming. and also trying to avoid Exotosis, which is no joke.
There are lots of old schoolers with serious chronic ear problems from years of cold water exposure. (EJ, and one of the CRC authors come to mind...)
I dont want to be on that list...
A big part of the sinus infection issue is the water quality here in NM, which is grnerally not great, with all the sediment and pesticides and chemicals being south of the San Luis Valley, and the Red River moly mines etc... after 16years in and around Rio Grande year round almost, all it takes is one good nasal douche and i am stuffed up for days, and then it just does not go away if i am paddling a lot. kinda sucks, and make me want to move to the PNW. or anywhere with cold and clear water..... I have paddled for multiple days in a row on the Ark, and MFSalmon for instance, and not had more then a bit of congestion.
fricking dirty desert water.
I would say continue to wear nose plugs when at those critical moments, even though they are annoying.... and strongly consider earplugs. that is my advice for any paddlers.... new or way more radical then me
full face or full ear coverage helmets definitely complicate all that, but are kind of their own solution....
I use the $5 mack's earplugs from NRS, as I cant get Doc's to fit right. use superglue to keep them attached to their shoestring.
I leave them halfway unplugged to hear in between rapids, and then plug in when its time to drop in...easy peasy....except for gopro operation. that's a pain.