Allergies vs. Sinus Infection
Many medical conditions have very similar symptoms, making them difficult to distinguish between. This is one of the many reasons why plugging your symptoms into WebMD often leads you to believe you are dying, rather than the much less serious alternative.
Seasonal allergies and a sinus infection are hard to distinguish between, especially in Houston, Texas. Fortunately, this is why you have a trusted allergist.
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, is a condition in which your nasal passages become swollen and inflamed. Symptoms are caused by an immune system response to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds; dust mites; mold and fungi spores and smoke or pollution.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
- Watery eyes
- Itchiness (nose, throat and eyes)
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Sinus pain and pressure
A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is an inflammation and swelling of the tissues that line the sinuses. This interferes with normal mucus drainage, leading to breathing difficulties, pain and pressure.
A sinus infection is often caused by an infection brought on by a cold or allergies, but may also be the result of nasal polyps, a deviated septum, trauma to the face, hay fever, complications from immune system disorders or tumors.
Common Sinus Infection symptoms
- Nasal congestion and discharge
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Facial pressure and swelling
- Loss of smell and taste
- 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 infection’s 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.