It can be tough to tell whether the stuffy nose and pressure in your head are just your allergies acting up, or if it’s a sinus infection. While they share similar symptoms, they are both caused by different factors.
Sinusitis, or sinus infections, can result from a stubborn cold, a bacterial or viral infection, and even from allergies. Sinus infections occur when the sinuses (air-filled pockets on either side of the nose) are filled with fluid, allowing germs to develop.
Allergic rhinitis is brought on by allergens. Allergens cause the immune system to overreact and release histamines to defend your body, resulting in those irritating symptoms. Reactions to allergens in your body seasonally or year round are known as allergies.
Common sinusitis symptoms are:
- Pain around the forehead, eyes, and cheeks
- Headaches or pain in teeth/gums
- Thick mucus, typically yellow or green in color
- Bad breath
- Post-nasal drip
Common allergy symptoms are:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Frequent sneezing
- Nasal congestion
- Trouble breathing through nose
These symptoms may only appear in certain situations or places.
Knowing what your triggers are and avoiding them before your body has the chance to react to allergens is the best way to prevent allergies. If your allergy is seasonal and relates to pollen, it’s best to stay indoors during peak hours and shower immediately after being outdoors. Try avoiding doing housework that kicks up dust and dander, and use HEPA filters to trap penetrating particles from lingering in your home.
Simple ways to help prevent sinus infections are to make sure your hands are clean and limit contact with your face, avoid smoke and smoking, and keeping away from people who have upper respiratory infections, and use a humidifier in the home to keep the air moist.
If you’re unsure whether your symptoms are caused by a sinus infection or your allergies acting up the best way to spot the difference is by asking your doctor.
Fortunately, there are options when it comes to managing allergies and sinus infections. For occasional flare ups, over the counter is great at providing temporary relief and easing the irritating symptoms that inconvenience day-to-day life. Various home remedies are also great at soothing symptoms briefly to alleviate pain.
For long-term solutions, there is immunotherapy for allergies which essentially helps lessen the body’s reactions to symptoms by exposing the immune system to small amounts of allergens via injections.
Balloon sinuplasty is another great, effective option for those who suffer from chronic sinusitis. The procedure is minimally invasive, quick, and simple. It allows the nasal passages to drain naturally on their own, preventing further sinus infections from flaring up.
Learn more about these various treatment options in our previous blogs to find relief for your sinus or allergy issues.
If your symptoms last more than a week and over-the-counter medications aren’t easing the pain, then it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor to find the right sinus or allergy solution for you