Wednesday, May 22, 2024

What’s The Difference In Sinus And Allergies

How To Tell If You Have Allergies Or Sinus Infection

Health Hub: How to spot the difference between coronavirus & seasonal allergy symptoms

Allergies and sinus infections may share certain symptoms but not all. There are certain symptoms that are true for people with allergies but may not necessarily be felt by those suffering from sinus infections.

So if you want to know whether its allergy or sinusitis, the best way to do so is by taking an inventory of your symptoms.

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.

When To See A Doctor

You dont necessarily have to see your doctor for your allergies. The exception is if youve never been diagnosed with allergies before or if your allergies seem to be getting worse.

You should also see your doctor if your OTC antihistamines arent working. They might recommend prescription medications instead. If your allergies have you particularly congested, they might also prescribe a .

Since sinus infections are caused by viruses, antibiotics dont generally help. However, if your symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, you should see your doctor for some relief.

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Sinus Infection Vs Allergies: How To Tell One From The Other

So you have a stuffy nose and you want to get rid of it. The problem is you dont really know how to treat it because youre still not sure whether its brought about by sinus infection or allergies.

Because they share similar symptoms, its pretty easy to mistake allergies for sinus infection and vice versa. But if you want to get rid of your symptoms for good, its essential that you distinguish one from the other.

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

Differences Between Allergies, Flu, and COVID

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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When Should You Consult An Allergist

There are many different instances where consulting an allergist is appropriate. Consider seeing an allergist if you have:

  • Prolonged or severe allergy symptoms
  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Asthma
  • Nasal polyps

Depending on what type of insurance you have, you may be required to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see an allergist.

Concerned About Your Symptoms?

Do Allergies Cause Sinus Infection

Yes, in certain cases, an allergic reaction can lead to a sinus infection. When youre exposed to an allergen, your sinuses and nasal cavities produce lots of excess mucus to flush them out. All this excess mucus tends to build up inside your sinuses. The moist caverns provide the perfect breeding for bacteria and viruses leading to sinus infection.

Antihistamines, a common medication for allergies, are also known to cause sinus infections. They make mucus thicker and harder to drain causing them to build up in your sinuses. And as you know, mucus build-up encourages bacterial growth that can lead to sinusitis.

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Nasal Allergies Or A Sinus Infection Similarities Differences And Treatments

  • 12 Nov, 2020

Do you have allergies or a sinus infection? The symptoms ofthese two common issues often overlap – making it difficult to self-treat the problem.Before you try a home remedy or over the counter option, take a look at thedifferences between allergies and an infection and the best ways to findrelief.

What Are the Similarities?

Nasal allergies and sinus infections often have the same orsimilar symptoms. While the two conditions have different underlying causes,patients with either issue may experience:

  • Pain or discomfort. Inflammation and irritation inside the sinus cavities from an allergic reaction to a seasonal or another trigger or a viral or bacterial infection can cause pain above or below the eye area.
  • Nasal discharge. Drainage may come out of your nose or flow down the back of your throat with either condition. Even though both issues can cause nasal drainage, infections typically cause green, yellow, or cloudy-looking mucous.
  • Nasal congestion. Some patients experience nasal congestion, or a stuffy nose, with either sinus-related issues or allergies.

Along with these symptoms, nasal allergies and a viral orbacterial sinus infection may also cause a cough – especially if you haveuncontrolled post-nasal drip.

What Are the Differences?

While the symptoms may seem similar, they don’t all overlap. The top differences between an allergy and a sinus infection include:

What Are the Treatments?

Omicron Vs Allergy Symptoms

Allergies or COVID? How to tell the difference

Though COVID-19 and allergies are caused by significantly different thingsthe SARS-CoV-2 virus and airborne substances like pollen, respectivelythe two can present similarly. Upper respiratory symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, headache, and tiredness can show up with both conditions.

But once you get past those common respiratory symptoms, the two conditions start to look increasingly different. “With Omicron or other viral illnesses, people tend to feel under the weather and don’t feel well, but allergies don’t really give you that feeling,” Judith Berger, MD, director of the division of infectious diseases at SBH Health System in Bronx, New York , told Health. “Allergies also tend to not give you a fever or muscle aches.”

Fever specifically is a key indicator that you may have COVID-19 instead of allergies, according to Scott Fedlman, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of allergy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. That’s because fever, or a rise in body temperature, is one of the ways the body tries to fight off infection or illnessthe body essentially makes itself inhospitable for viruses and bacteria to survive and multiply.

A sudden loss of taste and smell could tip you off to a COVID-19 infection more than allergies, too. “Allergies can cause some mild decrease in smell when your nose is stuffy,” said Dr. Feldman. “But the sudden loss of smell is less likely to be due to allergies.”

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Common Symptoms Of Colds Sinus Infections And Allergies

Many people have been told that the following symptoms are signs of a bacterial sinus infection as opposed to a cold:

  • Facial pain and headache
  • Discolored mucus or sinus drainage
  • Severe nasal congestion
  • Fever

But in reality, these symptoms dont help us distinguish one condition from the other, at least in the first week to 10 days. Generally speaking, all of the classic symptoms of a sinus infection can be present in a cold.

If youve had these symptoms for fewer than seven to 10 days, theyre almost certainly signs of a cold virus. When people have these symptoms for more than seven to 10 days without improvement, thats when we start thinking it might be a bacterial sinus infection. It is also very unusual for a cold, or other viral upper respiratory illness, to worsen after five days. This suggests a transition to a bacterial process. This is important because antibiotics should only be used when a bacterial process is suspected.

The symptoms of allergies dont normally include fever or a lot of discolored sinus drainage. Classic allergy symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Scratchy or low-grade sore throat
  • Sneezing

Some of these are similar to cold or sinus symptoms. The difference is that allergy symptoms dont follow the course of a cold, which runs through its symptoms as the cold progresses. Allergy symptoms are more consistent than cold symptoms. There is often a pattern to the symptoms related to a change in the indoor or outdoor environment .

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:

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Colds And Allergies Are The Main Risk Factors For Developing Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses, commonly caused by bacterial infection following a viral infection such as the common cold. Other risk factors for developing sinusitis include untreated allergies, crooked nasal anatomy, smoking, nasal polyps and overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.

Are There Different Treatments For Allergies Vs A Sinus Infection

Pin on Sinusitis Wellness

Yes, the treatments for allergies are different from a sinus infection, but its easy to confuse the two illnesses because the symptoms they cause are so similar. For example:

Unable to blow your nose X

Patients will often say they have terrible sinus infections, and sometimes they may underplay or not fully realize the role that the allergies are playing in their sinus complaints. Determining the underlying cause of these symptoms is important because if you have allergies and theyre treated with an antibiotic, it wont solve the underlying issues causing all of your symptoms.

If you have severe stuffiness related to either allergies or a sinus infection, the symptoms can be lessened with an over-the-counter or prescription decongestant. Common allergy treatments can also include antihistamines that block the immune system response.

However, allergy medications will not eliminate the sinus infection. The first step is to understand whether the sinus infection is viral or bacterial. If your doctor believes the sinus infection is viral, you should:

  • Drink clear fluids such as broth or water
  • Rest as much as possible
  • Take over-the-counter or prescription medicines to alleviate symptoms
  • Use a saline spray to rehydrate your nasal passages

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Treating Allergies And Sinusitis


  • Know your allergy triggers and avoid exposure to them when possible. Board certified allergists at Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center can help to identify the specific things you are allergic to.
  • Over the counter medications including antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays can be effective in controlling mild allergy symptoms. If you are not responding to these medications, your allergist can discuss prescription medications.
  • Some patients benefit from allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. This involves injections of tiny amounts of the allergens to which you are allergic to help the immune system develop tolerance to them.


  • If your symptoms are not responding to allergy treatment and are lasting for more than 7-10 days, you may need further evaluation by your physician. In the meantime, over the counter treatments such as antihistamines, decongestants, and saline sinus rinses can provide symptomatic relief.

Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center is a regional care center with 15 board certified allergists to serve you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or to learn more about our allergy practices in the Charlotte area.

How To Know If You Have A Sinus Infection Or Just Allergies

With the summer season finally changing and the weather cooling off, it is a peak time for allergies, sinus infections and more. But how do you know which is which? When their symptoms present similarly, these afflictions can be hard to self-diagnose and self-treat. Fortunately, as a leading practice in rhinology, we have tips on how to distinguish pesky allergies from a stubborn sinus infection.

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The Similarities And Differences

Before we get too deep into the specifics, its important to understand why allergies and sinus infections are often viewed as one in the same. The top reason is that they have extremely similar symptoms a runny nose could as easily be part of a sinus infection as part of allergies. However, thats not the only reason. Sometimes they cause one another. Sometimes they even have the same triggers, which makes identification even more complicated. Excess pollen in the air is the biggest example of this. Pollen triggers allergies, but it can also make breathing more difficult if you happen to have a sinus infection. Luckily, there are some key differences that can help you distinguish between sinus infections and allergies.

Allergy Treatments And Remedies

Telling the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus

Allergy symptoms only last as long as youre exposed to the substance that triggered your allergic reaction. So the best way to get rid of allergies is to avoid or keep away from any known allergens.

For instance, if youre allergic to pollen, you should wear a mask when going outside, especially during the pollen season. Or if youre allergic to dust, make sure to keep your surroundings tidy and use hypoallergenic stuff.

To get rid of your symptoms fast, you can also take over-the-counter medications like cetirizine, chlorpheniramine, and loratadine.

Keeping your immune system in optimal condition is also key to avoiding severe allergic reactions. Eat healthy foods, maintain an active lifestyle, and get plenty of sleep. You can also take probiotics to further boost your immunity. Also known as the good bacteria, probiotics are microorganisms that help your body fight off the bad bacteria. Scientific studies also show that it can boost your immune function by regulating your immune responses.

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The Role Of Allergens

Things you are allergic to can cause all sorts of reactions in your body, but the primary reaction is inflammatory. Arizona allergies can be particularly nasty especially in combination with our dry air. Your bodys inflammatory response can result in mucus deposits becoming stagnant and promoting bacterial or viral growth inside your sinuses. This can cause many issues for you if it goes untreated.

Its important to know whether you have allergies or not and specifically what you are allergic to. This is where allergy testing plays an important role. Knowing what youre allergic to will help you find the right medicine , and can also help you avoid irritants in the future. Discovering the specific allergens or dander that causes you trouble plays a pivotal role in treating and preventing further sinus damage and irritation.

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Sinus Infections And Allergies

Sinus infection

There are many signs and symptoms of sinusitis and sinus infections. The following is a summary of predominant ones that may occur. Most patients have several signs and symptoms at the same time. Others may have some symptoms that are intermittent most do not have all symptoms at once. The signs and symptoms of a sinus infection or sinusitis include the following:


Allergic rhinitis is the correct term used to describe the allergic inflammation of the nasal passages. Rhinitis means “inflammation of the nose” and is a derivative of rhino, meaning nose. Allergic rhinitis that occurs during a specific season is called “seasonal allergic rhinitis.” When it occurs throughout the year, it is called “perennial allergic rhinitis.” Rhinosinusitis is the medical term that refers to inflammation of the nasal lining as well as the lining tissues of the sinuses. This term is sometimes used because the two conditions frequently occur together.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, frequently include

  • nose, eye itching, and
  • excess tear production in the eyes.

Many people with allergies have difficulty with social and physical activities. For example, concentration is often difficult while experiencing allergic rhinitis symptoms.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Sinusitis

The signs and symptoms of sinusitis vary depending on the severity of the inflammation and which sinuses are involved. Symptoms and signs of sinusitis are:

  • Thick, green or yellow coloured mucus from the nose or down the back of the throat.
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • Bad breath and/or bad taste in the mouth.
  • Sore throat and/or cough.

It is important to consult your doctor if these signs or symptoms develop.

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