The symptoms of allergies and sinusitis can be very similar. Both problems can cause sinus pain and pressure, a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and other issues.
In fact, allergies can sometimes result in sinus infections. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen. Sinusitis is a sinus infection that is generally bacterial or viral.
It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition because the treatments for allergies and sinusitis can be quite different. Certified McAllen physician assistant, Jonathan Lerma, and his sinus relief team at the Glatz Group of Valley ENT want to clear things up by discussing the differences between sinusitis and allergies.
The Difference Between Sinusitis and Allergies
At the surface level, sinusitis and allergies can cause very similar symptoms but are actually very different conditions.
Sinusitis is when the sinuses become infected or inflamed. There are four pairs of sinuses in the skull and face, any of which can develop sinusitis.
Sinusitis can be considered acute or chronic. If it’s acute, then it is temporary and the symptoms should fade within about 10 days. Chronic sinusitis is when symptoms have persisted for more than 12 weeks and medical treatment has been ineffective.
Chronic sinusitis is more common among those with allergies, asthma, a deviated septum, and other conditions that block the nose or sinuses.
Allergies, on the other hand, are a type of immune system response. In allergy sufferers, the immune system attempts to combat a foreign substance that has entered your body. This can, in turn, induce pain and inflammation around the sinuses. When a person breathes in an allergen and their sinuses get inflamed, this is often referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
Allergies, like dust and dander, may cause inflammation and symptoms that resemble those of sinusitis. It is important to be aware, however, that in some cases, an allergy CAN trigger sinusitis.
When the sinuses swell in response to an allergy, bacteria can get stuck in your nose, potentially causing an infection. Sinusitis, however, does not cause allergies. Note that if an individual has allergies and sinusitis, the infection can exacerbate the allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of Sinusitis and Allergies
Sinusitis and allergies can cause swelling in the nasal passageways, leading to a stuffy nose, or congestion. They both can cause headaches and a feeling of pressure along the sinuses, resulting in pain on the face.
However, there are certain distinctions that can help determine whether you’re experiencing an allergic reaction or sinusitis.
Allergies can come without warning or with seasonal changes. Sinusitis typically follows a cold or other viral infection.
A person might be having an allergic reaction if they have:
- Symptoms that come and go or appear only at certain times of the year
- Symptoms that appear only in specific situations, like at a pet store
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Watery, clear, or thin discharge from the nose
- Constant sneezing
A person may have sinusitis if they experience:
- Thick mucus that’s yellow or green
- Symptoms that do not seem related to particular locations or circumstances
- Pain in the gums or above the teeth
- Bad breath
- Severe pressure in the face
- A diminished ability to smell or taste
- A fever
Treatment Options for Sinusitis and Allergies
Treatment for allergies can include a range of different kinds of medications, such as pills, inhalers, and eye drops. Some are available as over-the-counter medications, while others are available by prescription.
Antihistamines can be utilized to block the histamine that provokes many symptoms, and decongestants may also be used to help alleviate congestion.
Immunotherapy is also another treatment option designed to build up tolerance for those with environmental allergies. It usually involves using injections of a tiny amount of the allergen, but it can also be done with a bit of the allergen placed underneath the tongue.
Sinusitis treatment options include:
- Nasal decongestant sprays
- Nasal saline washes
Balloon sinuplasty, a minimally invasive procedure done, is another option that may be just the solution you need when antibiotics and other medicines aren’t effective at treating your sinusitis.
Seek treatment for your sinusitis and allergies with the Glatz Group of Valley ENT.
The pain and pressure of allergies and sinusitis can make it challenging to sleep and concentrate, which can greatly impact your quality of life. Thankfully, both conditions are treatable. Our certified specialists can diagnose the issue and recommend the best course of action.
We continue to provide state-of-the-art care in a manner that’s individualized and compassionate, even amidst the unusual circumstances of COVID-19. Thanks to telemedicine, we’ve been able to successfully address the allergy symptoms of our patients without an in-person meeting.
If you need immediate treatment, we can schedule an in-office procedure as soon as possible. We also offer online consultations or phone calls.
Contact the Glatz Group of VALLEY ENT for your sinusitis and allergy relief solutions.