Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Can Allergies Cause A Sinus Infection

Get Sinus Allergy Treatment Before It Becomes An Infection

Can Allergies Cause Sinus Infections?

If you live with sinus allergies, you may not realize that this condition can turn into an infection. Colds and allergies can block off the sinus drainage channels, which leads to a buildup of fluid from swelling or inflammation.

When the sinuses cannot drain properly, it creates an environment where bacteria can grow.

Are Sinus Infections Common

Yes. Sinus infections are common, affecting 31 million people in the United States. There are two main forms of sinus infections, acute and chronic either can be viral or bacterial infections. An acute sinus infection can last from 10 days to eight weeks. Chronic infection often referred to as chronic sinusitis, can last even longer and continue for months.

Complications Of Sinus Infection

Sinus inflammation can spread to the bones and soft tissues of the face and eyes. This can cause:

  • Cellulitis of the face or around the eyes
  • Abscesses of the eyes
  • Blindness

Left intreated, sinus infections can also lead to serious intracranial complications, including blood clots within the cavernous sinus, pus between the skulls and dura mater , and meningitis.

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What Are The Different Types Of Sinuses Near The Nose And Eyes

The paranasal sinuses are located in your head near your nose and eyes. They are named after the bones that provide their structure.

  • The ethmoidal sinuses are located between your eyes.
  • The maxillary sinuses are located below your eyes.
  • The sphenoidal sinuses are located behind your eyes.
  • The frontal sinuses are located above your eyes.

The biggest sinus cavity is the maxillary cavity, and it is one of the cavities that most often becomes infected.

There are different types of sinusitis:

  • Acute bacterial sinusitis: This term refers to a sudden onset of cold symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, and facial pain that does not go away after 10 days, or symptoms that seem to improve but then return and are worse than the initial symptoms . It responds well to antibiotics and decongestants.
  • Chronic sinusitis: This term refers to a condition defined by nasal congestion, drainage, facial pain/pressure, and decreased sense of smell for at least 12 weeks.
  • Subacute sinusitis: This term is used when the symptoms last four to twelve weeks.
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis: This term is used when the symptoms come back four or more times in one year and last less than two weeks each time.

Sinus Conditions And Allergy Symptoms

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If youve felt pressure in your nose and near your temples, youve liked experienced trouble with your sinuses. While many patients typically assume their sinus problems are related to a cold, many sinus conditions are caused by an allergic reaction especially after being exposed to outdoor allergens.

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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 its 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.

How Long Are You Contagious With A Sinus Infection

People with a sinus infection may be contagious for up to two weeks. This is because the virus can also pass along through contact, but its less likely that bacteria will cause this type of onset than in other cases where there are no symptoms present or only minor ones such as headache and dizziness which would go away on their own within days anyway without treatment from medication prescribed specifically for those conditions like a derm Noroxin .

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Allergies Or Sinus Infection An Ent Explains The Link And How To Tell The Difference

If youve had a stuffy or runny nose lately, its probably due to that pesky coat of pollen covering nearly everything outside.

Early spring, when tree grass pollen peaks, kick-starts what can be a difficult summer for many. Grass pollen follows shortly after, and then ragweed in the fall. Seasonal difficulties can vary from one person to the next. Seasonal allergies come and go, but what about when it feels like they dont?

Seasonal allergies can worsen symptoms of sinus infections and may make them last longer, explains Dr. Elina Toskala, MBA, MD, PhD, Jefferson Health otolaryngologist and allergy & immunology specialist.

What do allergies stem from?

Allergies are triggered by an overactive immune response and hypersensitivity to certain substances, says Dr. Toskala, be it pollen, dander, mold and/or dust. This reaction increases inflammation in our nasal and sinus cavities.

What do sinus infections stem from?

Sinus infections are viral or bacterial. In some cases, they are secondary to an upper respiratory virus, such as the common cold. Because the mucosa, or tissue that lines the nasal cavity, is so disturbed, it makes it easier for bacteria to settle in, adds Dr. Toskala.

However, recently, chronic rhinosinusitis has been looked at as a multifactorial inflammatory disorder. Its almost like an asthma of the upper airways, describes Dr. Toskala.

How do they overlap?

How can you tell the difference?

First, look at the symptoms:

How to manage and prevent symptoms:

How Can I Prevent Sinusitis

Allergies, Sinus Infections and Vertigo: Is There a Connection?

Some of the home remedies used to treat sinus infections symptoms may help prevent sinusitis. These include rinsing your nose out with salt water and using medications that your provider might suggest, such as allergy medications or steroid nasal sprays.

You should avoid things you are allergic to, like dust, pollen or smoke, and try to avoid sick people. Wash your hands to reduce your chance of getting a cold or flu.

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Allergies Vs Sinus Infection

Allergies can develop at any point in your life. While allergies tend to come up during childhood, its possible to develop allergies to new substances as an adult.

This type of reaction is caused by a negative response to a substance. Your immune system responds by releasing a chemical called histamine, which can then cause symptoms such as headache, sneezing, and congestion. Its also possible to feel foggy and develop a skin rash.

Severe allergies can lead to a cold-like condition called allergic rhinitis. With allergic rhinitis, you can have the above symptoms as well as itchy eyes. This itchiness is one of the key distinguishing factors between allergies and sinusitis.

A sinus infection, on the other hand, occurs when your nasal passages become inflamed. Sinusitis is most often caused by viruses. When the nasal cavity gets inflamed, mucus builds up and gets stuck, further compounding the problem.

Along with nasal congestion and headache, sinusitis causes pain around your cheeks and eyes. Sinus infections also cause thick, discolored mucus, and bad breath.

Compare the following symptoms to see if you have allergies or a possible sinus infection. Its also possible to have both conditions at the same time.


Are Sinus Infections Contagious A Doctor Weighs In

It depends on what caused the infection in the first place.

If youve got a stuffy nose, seemingly endless drainage, and swollen sinuses, theres a slew of usual suspects that could be making you miserablefrom seasonal allergies to the common cold. But if this uniquely terrible discomfort and facial pressure is all-too-familiar, a sinus infection is likely at the top of your list.

Every year, 31 million of us get a sinus infection, a.k.a. sinusitis, and we shell out more than $1 billion on over-the-counter meds to make them go away, per the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology . Because sinus infections feel a lot like other respiratory illnesses , its understandable if youre wondering whether or not you could pass on a sinus infection to someone else.

So, are sinus infections contagious? And if so, how can you keep yours to yourself? Read on for the answers, with expert insight from an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

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Is It A Cold Sinus Infection Or Allergies

Spring is on the horizon. Many Marylanders will begin experiencing the tell-tale signs of spring allergies: itching, sneezing and stuffy nose. But this collection of symptoms could also mean that you have a common cold or even a sinus infection. How can you tell the difference?


Maryland is notorious for its spring allergy season. The states blooming trees and flowers may be beautiful, but they can produce uncomfortable sneezing, runny nose, sinus congestion and itchy eyes, nose and mouth, as well as postnasal drip and cough.

Unfortunately, this collection of symptoms can also indicate a few other conditions, including a common cold or sinus infection. Learn more about spring allergies and how you can differentiate them from a cold or sinus infection.

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The side effects of medicines can be frustrating, and many patients with chronic sinusitis and allergies dont find relief with allergy medications. However, staying cooped up indoors isnt a sustainable allergy and sinus treatment. Balloon sinuplasty offers a chance for long-lasting relief to these patients.

Dr. Bequer, a leading ENT doctor with locations in both West Palm Beach and Tampa, is one of Floridas premier balloon sinuplasty physicians. Call Sinus Solutions of South Florida at to request a consultation today and give your seasonal allergies the boot.

Related Sinus Conditions & Problems

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Foods That Trigger Sinus Issues: What Are The Foods To Avoid


Gluten is a complex molecule found in grains and products that are not well understood. Alarmingly the rate of gluten intolerance and allergies is on the rise reactions can range from minor inflammation to stomach/ gut issues to full-blown allergic reactions. Avoid food like bread, pasta, beer, or any food containing gluten as an ingredient.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Usually, food high in Omega-6 fatty acids is great for your diet however, when you are already experiencing sinus issues, its best to avoid foods that have it in excess, like nuts, vegetable oils, tuna, and cured meats. Consuming too much Omega-6 fatty acids can worsen sinus conditions.

Trans-Fatty Acids

Studies have shown that trans-fatty acids cause inflammation in the body and have not shown any redeeming qualities for the body. The primary source of this acid is partially hydrogenated oils which is a hallmark of the fast-food and processed food industry. Keeping away from these foods on an everyday basis is a sure way to boost your health.

Processed Sugar

Consuming high amounts of processed sugar is known to cause adverse reactions in the body, including inflammation. Unfortunately, this kind of sugar can be found in all types of foods, making them hard to avoid unless you pay close attention and read all labels carefully.


Monosodium glutamate is probably of the worst things you can put in your body. Used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, MSG is yet another agent of inflammation.

Consult With Dr Arjuna Kuperan

If you think you may have a sinus infection and are considering surgery as treatment, seek the expertise of a Rhinologist like Dr. Kuperan who specializes in the treatment of sinus, nasal, and skull base disorders and a board certified Otolaryngologist . Dr. Kuperan will make sure you get a tailored procedure designed to get you feeling great again with minimal recovery time. To schedule a consultation please visit Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus or call us at 713-791-0700.

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Pay Close Attention To Symptoms To Determine If Cause Is Sinus Infection Or Allergies

Dear Mayo Clinic:

I have long suffered from allergies. But there have been times when I haven’t been sure if my symptoms are really from my allergies or may be caused by a sinus infection instead. How can I tell the difference?


Allergies and sinus infections are often mistaken for one another. But they are two separate conditions. By paying close attention to the specific symptoms you have, you can usually identify which one is more likely to be causing the problem.

A sinus infection, also called sinusitis, affects the cavities around your nasal passages. The infection causes your sinuses to become inflamed and swollen. The swelling makes it hard for your sinuses to drain, and mucus builds up. You become congested and have trouble breathing through your nose. Sinusitis often causes thick yellow or green nasal discharge. A sore throat, cough or headache, as well as pressure or tenderness around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead, may also accompany sinusitis.

In most cases, viruses cause sinusitis. These viral infections usually go away on their own within a week to 10 days. Self-care measures such as extra rest and fluids along with over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants can help. When sinusitis is caused by bacteria, the infection may not require treatment, either. But if it is persistent or severe, then antibiotics such as amoxicillin, doxycycline and others may be used to treat the infection.

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Sinus Infections Caused by Allergies

Ongoing inflammation of tissues in the nasal passages caused by pet allergy can obstruct the hollow cavities connected to your nasal passages . These obstructions may make you more likely to develop bacterial infections of the sinuses, such as sinusitis.

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Pet dander is connected to sinusitis because of the allergens found in many places on your pet, primarily the fur, saliva and urine. Cats and dogs are the two most common pets that carry these allergens. Their dander and skin flakes can cause an allergic reaction, which in turn leads to sneezing, wheezing, and running eyes and nose.

So, how can pet dander impact our lung and sinus health? If you suffer from allergies, you likely have already experienced issues at your eyes and nose. This is because many of your sinuses are found in and around your head.

Alongside the coughing and sneezing is the shortness of breath within 15 to 30 minutes of contact with the pet dander allergen. Typically, dog dander causes the inflammation of the nasal passage, consequently resulting in Swelling of the nasal membrane. Itching of the nasal membrane. Stuffy nose.

Sinus infections. Ongoing inflammation of tissues in the nasal passages caused by pet allergy can obstruct the hollow cavities connected to your nasal passages . These obstructions may make you more likely to develop bacterial infections of the sinuses, such as sinusitis. Asthma

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Cold Allergies Or Sinus Infection

Allergies and sinusitis can accompany many of the same symptoms as the common cold, making it difficult to distinguish between the three.

Similar symptoms can include:

Despite having universal symptoms, colds, allergies, and sinus infections all have their own common symptoms as well. You can use these to help you distinguish which condition is causing you problems.

Why Should You See An Allergy Doctor

If you are suffering from the symptoms more often, then you should identify the root cause of the inflammation. Do not forget that if you do not treat chronic sinusitis, then it can lead to ear and upper and lower respiratory infections. The allergy doctor is trained to detect the allergy triggers and help you live sinus infection-free.

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Types Of Sinus Infections: Chronic Vs Acute

There are four types of sinus infections. These classifications depend on the length and frequency of the infection:

  • Acute sinusitis.This type of sinus infection lasts only for a short time, defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology as less than 4 weeks. This short-term infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection .
  • Subacute sinusitis. A subacute sinus infection lasts between 4 and 12 weeks .
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis. An acute sinus infection is considered recurrent if the infection returns four or more times within a year, with each infection lasting 7 days or more.
  • Chronic sinusitis.Chronic sinus infections last for more than 12 weeks or continue to recur.

Many sinus infection symptoms are common in both acute and chronic forms. Seeing a doctor is the best way to learn if you have an infection, find the cause, and get treatment.

For cases of acute bacterial sinus infections, these symptoms last at least 10 days without improving, or they worsen within 10 days after seeming to improve. In this case, its important to talk with a doctor, such as a general practitioner or an ear, nose, and throat doctor , to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Learn more about the symptoms of a sinus infection below.

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