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What Is The Difference Between Sinus And Allergies

What Kicks It Off

How to tell the difference between Allergies, Sinus Infections, and COVID-19

With both sinusitis and allergies, your nose and sinuses get stuffed up, but it happens for different reasons.

If you have allergies, the passages of your nose and sinuses swell because they’re trying to flush out “allergens.” That’s just a technical word for anything you’re allergic to, like pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander.

Sinusitis usually develops because of allergies or a cold. Sometimes, but not often, it’s from bacteria that cause an infection.

When you have allergies or a cold, your nose and sinuses get inflamed. That blocks mucus from draining, which can cause an infection — not to mention pain and pressure.

If you have allergies, you’re more likely to have sinus problems. That’s because the inside of your nose and sinuses often swell up when you breathe in triggers.

What Is The Difference

A sinus infection, sometimes called sinusitis, happens when the sinuses become infected or inflamed. There are 4 pairs of sinuses in the skull and face, any of which can develop sinusitis.

Sinusitis can be acute or chronic. If it is acute, this means that it is temporary, and the symptoms fade within about 10 days.

A doctor will likely diagnose chronic sinusitis when symptoms have persisted for longer than 12 weeks and medical treatment has not worked.

Chronic sinusitis is more common in people with allergies, asthma, a deviated septum, and other conditions that can block the nose or sinuses.

Allergies, meanwhile, are a type of immune system reaction.

In a person with allergies, the immune system aggressively fights a harmless substance, causing pain and inflammation.

When a person breathes in a substance to which they are allergic and their sinuses become inflamed, a doctor may refer to this as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.

Allergies to inhaled substances, such as dust and dander, can cause inflammation and symptoms that resemble those of sinusitis.

In some cases, an allergy can trigger a sinus infection.

When the sinuses swell in reaction to an allergen or irritant, bacteria and other pathogens can become trapped in the nose, potentially causing an infection.

Sinus infections, on the other hand, do not cause allergies. However, if a person has allergies and sinusitis, the infection can make the allergy symptoms worse.

Allergy Experts In Tampa

Our team of board-certified allergy and immunology specialists at Allergy Tampa will work with you to determine the underlying cause of your nasal congestion, as well as put you on the path toward recovery by making an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call 971-9743 or request an appointment with our online form.

Read Also: Sinus Infection Not Getting Better

What Is The Treatment For Sinus Infections And Allergies

Sinus Infection

Viral sinusitis

Antibiotics are not necessary for sinusitis caused by a virus. Frequently recommended treatments include pain and fever medications, for example:

  • Decongestants and mucolytics disolves are medications that dissolve or breakdown mucous, for example, guaifenesin.

Bacterial sinusitis

Bacterial infection of the sinuses is suspected when facial pain, nasal discharge resembling pus, and other symptoms last longer than a week, and are not responding to over-the-counter nasal medications.

Acute sinus bacterial infection usually is treated with antibiotics aimed at treating the most common bacteria known to cause sinus infection. It is unusual to get a reliable culture without aspirating the sinuses.

The five most common bacteria causing sinus infections are:

If you don’t improve after five days of taking the antibiotic, contact your doctor because he may want to switch antibiotics to one of the five listed above or amoxicillin-clavulanate .

Generally, an effective antibiotic needs to be continuously for a minimum of 10-14 days. However, it is not unusual to treat sinus infections for 14-21 days.

Some antibiotics now are thought to reduce inflammation, independent of the anitbacterial activity.


The first-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine , chlorpheniramine , dimenhydrinate , brompheniramine , clemastine fumarate , and dexbrompheniramine frequently cause mouth dryness and sleepiness as side effects.

Is It A Cold Sinus Infection Or Allergies How To Tell The Difference

Difference Between Sinus and Allergies

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.

It can be tough to tell the difference between a cold, a bacterial sinus infection and allergies. In fact, thats probably one of the questions people ask doctors most frequently in this country. Theres a lot of confusion about what the signs are for these conditionsfrom patients and their doctors alike.

Recognizing the variations between these three conditions is important. The treatment strategies for a cold are unlike those for a bacterial sinus infection. And treatment for allergies is different still than treatment for the other two.

Lets go through the symptoms that people often are confused about, as well as the process of deciding which condition a patient may have and what we need to do about it.

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Common Sinus Infection Symptoms

  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

In order to determine what condition you are suffering from, your physician will review your list of symptoms and perform a physical exam. The difference between these two conditions can be boiled down into two questions:

Is your sinus congestion accompanied by watery or itchy eyes?

Do you have a headache, pressure or pain in the face and chronic fatigue?

Watery or itchy eyes will lead your doctor to determine that you are suffering from seasonal allergies, while pain or pressure in the face combined with a headache and fatigue is usually an indication that you have a sinus infection.

The reason it is important to figure out what is causing your symptoms is because that will shape your treatment plan.

Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal or oral corticosteroids are used to treat seasonal allergies. Immunotherapy is an option for long-term relief of these symptoms.

Treatment for a sinus infection depends on the infections severity. Saline nasal sprays and corticosteroids are useful for rinsing your nasal passages and relieving inflammation. Decongestants are a good short-term solution, but extended use can actually worsen the condition. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, now is the time to do something about it. Contact your Houston physician to schedule an appointment today.

How To Tell The Difference

The easiest way to tell the difference between allergies and a sinus infection is to compare your symptoms. While there is some overlap, as shown above, both allergies and sinus infections have symptoms that are unique to each condition.

Note that it is possible to have both allergies and a sinus infection. Youll know this if you exhibit symptoms from both lists.

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The Difference Between Allergies And Sinusitis

by sinusteam | Aug 15, 2021

Spring has sprung, and while many people are basking in warmer weather, millions across the country are suffering with allergies. When allergens enter our bodies through airways, histamines are released, causing a variety of unpleasant symptoms as an attempt to fight off these foreign substances. Normally, our sinuses allow mucus to drain through the nasal passages, but during allergy season these passages become swollen and inflamed, preventing drainage. Built-up fluid in the sinuses causes congestion, pain and pressure, and if left untreated, can lead to an infection known as sinusitis. In severe cases, symptoms of sinusitis can last up to 4 months or longer. Knowing whether you have allergies or sinusitis is key to obtaining the treatment your body needs.

The Difference Between Rhinitis And Sinusitis

Whatâs the Difference Between Allergies, a Common Cold, and a Sinus Infection?

Though a stuffy nose seems like a minor complaint, it can be a warning sign of several conditions. Two common culprits associated with nasal congestion are allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. Both conditions have symptoms that are similar in the early stages, and medical professionals occasionally struggle to make a proper diagnosis. Over time, differences between the two usually emerge.

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Sinus Infection Vs Allergies: What Is The Difference

You have found yourself with sinus symptoms you cannot ignore, but ask yourself Are these symptoms from allergies or a sinus infection?Lets battle Sinus Infections vs. Allergies, and get educated on the differences, symptoms, treatments, and prevention measures for both conditions.

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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:

  • Antihistamines
  • 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 arent effective at treating your sinusitis.

Sometimes an underlying issue, either a deviated septum or nasal polyps, is the source of your symptoms and can be corrected with surgery. At Glatz Group, We also provide nasal polyp removal surgery.

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.

Read Also: Can You Get A Sinus Infection

Can I Prevent The Allergies That Lead To A Sinus Infection

While you cant fully prevent allergies, you may be able to avoid what is causing the allergic reaction. For example, if you have seasonal allergies and the pollen count is high, stay indoors and keep the windows shut and air conditioning on. Knowing what causes the allergic response, and then mapping out a strategy of medications and avoidance techniques is something that your doctor can help you with.

However, prevention is possible with sinus infections caused by bacteria or viruses. Its always a good idea to get plenty of rest and exercise regularly to keep your immune system functioning. Some of the other preventative techniques to head off a sinus infection are similar to what youd do to stave off colds and flu, including staying hydrated and taking vitamin C to boost your immunity. Frequent handwashing was always important well before the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us to improve our hygiene. You should also avoid nasal irritants like smoke or other pollution. Keeping the nose hydrated with a saline spray will help the sinuses work more effectively.

Despite your best efforts, if you are experiencing the symptoms of a sinus infection, its important to see your doctor to diagnose whats going on and help you get better fast.

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  • Allergies appear with changes in the seasons or without warning.
  • Sinusitis usually follows a cold or viral infection.
  • Each condition can require slightly different treatments.

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Sinus Infection Vs Allergies Symptoms

Sinus infections and allergies have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to distinguish between these two conditions.

Sinusitis can cause fever, bad breath, and thick nasal discharge which are not typical symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies tend to cause itchy eyes, nose throat, and occasionally hives, sinus infections do not usually present these symptoms.

Difference Between Sinus And Allergies

Allergies occur as a result of your immune system’s reaction to certain allergens, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander. A sinus infection, or sinusitis, occurs when your nasal passages get infected. Both conditions can cause nasal inflammation, along with related symptoms, such as congestion and stuffy nose.

  • Which nasal spray is best for sinusitis?
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    How Can An Ent Help With My Allergies Or Sinus Infection

    An ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist, has special training in the diagnosis and treatment protocols for a variety of disorders of the head, neck and face. From simple sinusitis and allergies to surgical correction of physical deformities of the sinuses, voice disorders, or problems with the thyroidto name just a few of the conditions your otolaryngologist is trained to treat.

    Allergies are a common problem, and, when they are chronic, they can lead to debilitating symptoms. Dr. Dobson says her goal is to, Work on the allergies, get the symptoms under control, decrease the frequency of the flare ups, and get you feeling better.

    If you experience any of these symptoms that last more than 10 days, its more than time to see your doctor:

    • Balance or dizziness issues
    • Hearing loss or stuffy ears
    • Hoarseness or other voice issues
    • Pain in your ears, face, or teeth
    • Persistent sore throat
    • Recurring adenoid, ear, or tonsil infections
    • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
    • Trouble swallowing

    Breathe Easy Spring Summer Winter And Fall With Balloon Sinuplasty At Sinus Solutions Of South Florida

    Difference Between Allergies, Colds & Sinus Infections

    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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    What Causes Sinus Infections Vs Allergies

    Sinus Infection

    Sinus infections or sinusitis may be caused by anything that interferes with airflow into the sinuses and the drainage of mucus out of the sinuses. The sinus openings may be blocked by swelling of the tissue lining and adjacent nasal passage tissue, for example with

    • common colds,
    • tissue irritants such as OTC nasal sprays, cocaine, and cigarette smoke.
    • Other causes of sinus infections or sinusitis
    • Tumors or growths also can block the sinuses if they are near the sinus openings.

    Dehydration, disease, drying medications, and lack of sufficient humidity can cause sinusitis or sinus infection.The drainage of mucous from the sinuses can also be impaired by thickening of the mucous secretions, by decrease in hydration of the mucous brought on by disease , drying medications , and lack of sufficient humidity in the air. The epithelial cells have small hair-like fibers, called cilia, which move back and forth to help the mucus move out of the sinuses. These small cilia may be damaged by many irritants, especially smoke. This can prevent them from assisting the mucus in draining from the sinuses, and thus results in sinus infections or sinusitis.

    Stagnated mucus provides an environment for bacteria, viruses and in some circumstances, fungus, to grow within the sinus cavities. In addition, the microbes themselves can initiate and exacerbate sinus blockage. The most commonly infected sinuses are the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses.


    How Can I Tell If I Have A Sinus Infection Cold Or Nasal Allergy

    It can be difficult to tell the difference between a cold, allergies, and a sinus infection. The common cold typically builds, peaks, and slowly disappears. It lasts a few days to a week. A cold can transform into a sinus infection. Nasal allergy is inflammation of the nose due to irritating particles . Symptoms of a nasal allergy can include sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, congestion, runny nose, and post nasal drip . Sinusitis and allergy symptoms can happen at the same time as a common cold.

    If you are fighting off a cold and develop symptoms of a sinus infection or nasal allergy, see your healthcare provider. You will be asked to describe your symptoms and medical history.

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    Allergies Vs Sinus Infection Comparing The Differences Based On Prevention

    It is possible to prevent a sinus infection in the same manner that you follow to prevent catching a common cold or flu viruses. Staying hydrated and getting a good amount of sleep is required to prevent sinusitis, especially in the cold and flu season. Taking supplements of vitamin C, with prior consultation with your doctor, of course, will also help activate your immune system, keeping infections at bay. Frequently washing your hands is also important,

    When it comes to preventing allergies though, it is a bit difficult to prevent them but not impossible. This is because you may not even be aware of the allergens present in a particular environment. However, it does help if you are aware of the substances you are allergic to so that you can avoid exposure as much as possible and hence prevent your allergy. For example, if you know that you have a seasonal allergy to pollen, then avoid going outside when the pollen count is going to be the highest. Also, wash your hair after returning from outside and before going to bed. Also, try to keep the windows closed when pollen counts are known to be at their highest.

    If you suffer from dust mite allergies, then have a schedule for weekly house cleaning and washing the bedding. For pet dander allergies, do not allow your pet to get up on the bed and wash your hands after you pet them or be careful of not to touch your face after petting them.

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