Chronic Sinusitis or Allergies?

The Difference Between Chronic Sinusitis and Allergies

With over 30 million Americans suffering from allergies and over 7 million suffering from Chronic Sinusitis it’s likely that you’ve experienced one of these conditions. However, the majority of people can’t differentiate between these conditions. With people frequently misdiagnosing themselves, these conditions regularly go mistreated or even untreated. A recent survey found that in a sample of over 600 asthma and allergy patients, researchers concluded that approximately half of the surveyed group self-diagnosed their symptoms as allergies when in reality they suffered from sinus conditions.

What is Chronic Sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs when the nasal passageways become infected and inflamed as a result of bacteria. Before sinusitis there is often a cold or irritation that facilitates bacterial growth in the nasal passageways. However, Sinusitis demands a diagnosis by a doctor and a proper course of treatment. In order to fully cure the infection, antibiotics are necessary. If these infections occur frequently or last more than three months, Chronic Sinusitis is likely.

What are allergies?

Allergies can be triggered by many airborne allergens, both indoor and outdoor. Our body reacts to these allergens with a variety of symptoms from a runny nose, to rashes, to hives. If your sinus congestion lasts for more than 10 days and is accompanied by watery or itchy eyes, there is a good chance you’re having an allergic reaction.

Symptom Breakdown

Symptoms Chronic Sinusitis Allergies
Initial Cause Sinus infection Indoor and outdoor allergens
Duration Over 10 days Varies; typically seasonal
Fever Sometimes No
Coughing Sometimes Sometimes
Facial Pressure/Pain Yes Sometimes
Nasal Congestion Yes Sometimes
Sneezing No Sometimes
Nasal Discharge White or colored Clean, thin, watery
Headache Sometimes Sometimes
Pain in Upper Teeth Sometimes No

Sinus Infection vs. Allergies — How Do You Know?

If you experience these symptoms three or more times a year, you may have chronic  sinusitis. Although the allergy symptoms are similar, they can be treated with an antihistamine rather than a decongestant. However, the best way to differentiate these conditions is to see a specialist, either an ENT doctor or allergist.