Sinus Infections and Allergies: Managing the Link
Seasonal allergies and sinus infections are closely related health issues. Seasonal difficulties can vary from person to person, and symptoms may come and go. If you get a sinus infection while dealing with allergies, the symptoms of both may become more severe and last longer.
Explore the link between allergies and sinus infections, their causes, and how to distinguish between the two. Then, learn ways to manage and prevent symptoms and how an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist can help.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies result from a hypersensitive immune system that overacts to environmental allergens. When the immune system identifies pollen, dust, or pet dander as a threat, it produces antibodies that trigger the release of histamines. These chemicals cause the symptoms associated with allergies, including sneezing, itching eyes, and nasal congestion.
What Causes Sinus Infections?
Sinus infections, or sinusitis, are often caused by viruses or bacteria that inflame the paranasal sinuses. Irritants like smoke, strong perfume, and air pollution can also cause sinus swelling. Acute sinusitis is a temporary condition that may occur after a cold or flu, while chronic sinusitis is a long-term condition lasting several weeks or longer. Chronic symptoms may develop due to allergies or other underlying health conditions.
Is There a Link Between Allergies and Sinus Infections?
Yes, these conditions are related, but not for the reason many people think. Allergies don’t lead to sinus infections because of a weakened immune system. Instead, allergies cause nasal inflammation, leading to sinus congestion and blockages. This makes it easier for bacteria or viruses to grow and cause a sinus infection.
Sinus Infection vs. Allergies
To tell whether you have allergies or a sinus infection, first consider your symptoms. Both conditions can cause nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, and cough. However, only allergies cause an itchy, runny nose and watery eyes. Then, only sinus infections cause facial pressure, discolored mucus, and hyposmia (partial loss of smell).
Symptom duration is another way to distinguish between allergies and sinus infections. Allergies may persist as long as allergens are present, while acute sinus infections usually resolve within two to three weeks. Of course, chronic infections may last much longer than this.
How to Manage and Prevent Symptoms
First, identify and avoid your triggers. For allergies, this may involve staying indoors during high pollen counts, using an air purifier, and avoiding pets that trigger symptoms. For sinus infections, avoid cigarette smoke, use a humidifier, and wash your hands often to prevent spreading germs.
Over-the-counter treatments, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal rinses, can relieve allergy and sinus infection symptoms. For severe allergies, immunotherapy helps desensitize the immune system. Sinus surgery may even be necessary to improve drainage and prevent chronic sinus problems.
Seek Treatment for Sinus Infections and Allergies in Scottsdale
If allergies or sinus infections persist despite preventative measures and conservative treatments, seek help from an ENT specialist at Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center. With the proper treatment, you can get back to living your best life without the burden of chronic allergies or sinus problems. Call us at 480-525-8999 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our office in Scottsdale, AZ.