For many people, sinus symptoms are part of having an allergies. This leads some to mistakenly believe they have a sinus infection when it is, in fact, just allergies. Below we review the differences between allergy symptoms and a sinus infection so you can know which you should seek treatment for.
What Causes Allergies?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for people with allergies, their immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, certain foods, mold and insect stings as dangerous intruders and overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
What Causes Sinus Infections?
Sinus infections occur when the sinuses become inflamed, usually due to a virus or allergies. This inflammation can cause a blockage so mucus cannot drain; then the mucus begins to grow bacteria, resulting in a sinus infection.
So, while allergies can cause sinus infections, they are not the same thing.
Telling the Difference Between Allergies and Sinus Infections
Allergies and sinus infections have several overlapping symptoms, including:
- Nasal congestion.
- Trouble breathing through the nose.
Your other symptoms can point to what you’re experiencing. If it’s allergies, you’ll likely also experience sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. If it’s a sinus infection, you may experience thick discharge from the nose, inability to blow your nose, tooth pain, fever and bad breath.
Below are the treatment options available for both allergies and sinus infections.
Most people with allergies treat their symptoms with over-the-counter antihistamines from Concord Pharmacy. These medications work by blocking the immune system’s response to an allergen. Other options include over-the-counter decongestants or nasal steroids.
A more long-term treatment is immunotherapy. Delivered in either shot or drop form, immunotherapy works by introducing your body to small amounts of allergen extracts in order for your immune system to build up a tolerance.
Sinus Infection Treatments
The first line of treatment for sinus infections includes:
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Drinking clear fluids.
- Using a saline mist or rinse.
- Taking allergy medications.
If symptoms persist, antibiotics may be necessary. For chronic infections that don’t respond to other treatments, surgery is sometimes recommended.
For more information about allergies and sinus infections, call the experts at ENT of Georgia today.