Is It Allergies or Sinusitis?

Is It Allergies or Sinusitis?

Are you prone to allergies? How do you know if you’re suffering from allergies versus sinusitis? Both conditions have the same major symptoms: swollen sinuses and uncomfortable nasal congestion making it difficult to breathe, especially at night. You roll over on one side to try to sleep and one side of your nose closes; then you roll over on the other side and the other nasal passage closes. 

Nilesh Patel, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, is the expert you want to see if you’re bothered by frequent nasal congestion from allergies or sinusitis

Cause of allergy symptoms

When you have allergies, you get nasal congestion because your nasal passages are trying to rid your body of the substances you’re allergic to, whether it’s dust, ragweed, tree pollen, pet dander, or another allergen. Your immune system makes a mistake and thinks the substance is a danger to you. Your body releases a chemical called histamine into your blood. 

The histamine is trying to fight the pollen or dust, even though it wouldn’t hurt you. The chemical reaction creates your allergy symptoms. The allergy makes it uncomfortable to breathe, but you don’t have an infection, as with sinusitis. 

Cause of sinusitis

It may be difficult to tell if you have sinusitis yourself because it can develop as a result of allergies and move into an infection caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungi. Sinus problems can develop from allergies. 

Your nasal passages get swollen and inflamed when you have an allergy attack and breathe in the allergen. Mucus can’t drain from the sinuses, and the warm, moist environment can easily create an infection in your nasal passages. You then have sinusitis. 

Viruses are the culprit in most cases of sinusitis. A cold can migrate into sinusitis. If your symptoms persist, your sinusitis may be caused by a bacterium, and Dr. Patel prescribes an antibiotic if needed. 

Differences in symptoms of allergies and sinusitis

There are some key differences in sinusitis versus allergy symptoms. 

Allergy symptoms 

If you have allergic rhinitis, you recognize the symptoms. In addition to nasal congestion, these are common allergy symptoms: 

When you’re allergic, you may have fits of sneezing. You feel as though you’ve used an entire box of tissues on your runny nose. Tears drip from your eyes. You just want your symptoms to stop. 

If you have seasonal allergies, your nose may start getting stuffed up in the spring from an allergy to oak trees or grasses, for instance. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you’ll have symptoms in the fall. Dr. Patel talks with you about which allergens are active in the northeast coastal region. 

One key difference between allergies and sinusitis: Sinusitis doesn’t cause itchy, watery eyes. If your eyes are running, you’re allergic to a substance.

Sinusitis symptoms 

In addition to nasal congestion, sinusitis may present with any of the following symptoms: 

If you have an allergy, you won’t have a fever. 

Treatment for allergies and sinusitis

If your allergy symptoms don’t improve with over-the-counter medications, Dr. Patel prescribes nasal sprays or oral medications. If the symptoms persist, you may need allergy testing and allergy shots. 

Sinusitis can be relieved by nasal sprays and/or antibiotics. Severe cases may warrant a procedure called turbinate reduction, which improves your air flow. 

You’re in expert hands in the office of Dr. Patel. Don’t hesitate to call our office or request a same-day appointment.

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