The Role of Allergies in Sinusitis

Allergies and Chronic Sinusitis

Itchy or watery eyes are associated with allergy attacks, but not with sinus infections.

The Internet has empowered us as diagnosticians, conjuring up medical advice with just a couple of Google searches. But evaluating your symptoms to identify their cause is harder than evaluating product features to identify what to buy. Choosing among possible remedies is another hurdle.

This is especially true for people with allergies. Many factors can trigger an allergy attack, and more severe attacks may require more powerful remedies. The symptoms are so much like a cold that it may take a sinus infection to motivate a visit to the doctor.

What Is Chronic Sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis — a condition that causes swelling and inflammation of the cavities around your nasal passages — is one potential outcome of an untreated sinus infection. With chronic sinusitis, mucus can’t drain and builds up, leading to other symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, headaches, and pressure around the eyes, ears, or cheeks. That pressure might be in addition to, or instead of, the nose blockage.

People with chronic sinusitis usually suffer with it for at least three months, if not longer. Remember, common colds that lead to sinus infections are viruses. Over-the-counter medications may alleviate some of the symptoms, but once a cold takes hold, there’s no treatment that will just make it go away. You have to let it run its course.

Signs of Allergy Attacks

Nobody should have to deal with such misery for so long. So what do you do if you have allergies? How do you tell the difference so you can nip your sinus infection in the bud?

One symptom of an allergy attack is itchy or watery eyes. This rarely accompanies a sinus infection. It’s also important to pay attention to the seasons. Even though colds can occur in the summer, and there are plenty of allergy triggers year-round, knowing when your allergies are most likely to flare up can help you make the call.

Signs of Sinusitis

One of the main symptoms distinct to chronic sinusitis is a very thick nasal discharge that is either yellow or green in color. Another might be if you experience problems with your mouth. The sinus pressure might make your jaw or teeth ache. Because your ear, nose and throat are connected, you might have a reduced sense of taste as well as smell. All that mucus build-up can cause some pretty nasty breath, too.

Clinicians will consider nasal inflammation along with at least two of four symptoms related to congestion, discharge, swelling and the senses as evidence to diagnose chronic sinusitis. If you’re experiencing any of these for a period of seven days or more, schedule an appointment with our sinus specialists.

Viral infections are not the only cause of chronic sinusitis, by the way. Nasal polyps and a deviated septum are also conditions that make a person more susceptible. So even if you’re one of the fortunate individuals without allergies, don’t let symptoms linger before seeking help from a medical provider.

Image by auremar/123RF