Seasonal Allergies vs. Sinus Infections: Understanding the Differences
If you blow your nose repeatedly, you are likely suffering from a sinus infection or a seasonal allergy. But how do you know for sure which one it is? It is extremely common to get confused between the two. Both have similar symptoms. However, while one can get cured relatively easily, the other can cause long-term health issues. Sinus is a serious problem that requires special attention and quick treatment. Sinus infection specialists recommend that sinus issues should be taken seriously and treated correctly.
For that to happen, knowing how to differentiate sinus from other problems with similar symptoms is essential. In this piece, we provide you with an in-depth guide to knowing the difference between a sinus infection and a seasonal allergy. We will also discuss various ways to avoid and manage sinus infections, as sinus specialists with substantial experience suggested.
What is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection, also known as Sinusitis, is caused by inflammation of the sinuses. This can cause them to be filled with fluid and get blocked. Sinuses are essentially air-filled extensions in our skulls. These are located near our nose, forehead, and eyes. When these get filled with fluid, one can experience various symptoms such as fever, coughing, headache, chest pain, nasal discharge, soar throat, and fatigue.
Viruses, bacteria, or fungi can cause sinus infections. However, in chronic cases, it can also be a result of deviated septum, asthma, dental infection, immune system disorders, nasal polyps, etc. Sinus infections can cause significant discomfort, but they are treatable. It can be cured within a week. However, sometimes, it can also lead to the development of serious complications that may require long-term treatment or surgery.
Type of Sinusitis
There are four major types of sinus infections. We have explained them in detail below.
- Acute Sinus – This type of sinus is most common among people. It can be caused by inflamed or infected sinus. Acute Sinusitis is generally caused by viruses or bacteria and can be cured within ten days. However, it can also develop as a bacterial infection in some cases.
- Subacute Sinus – This type of sinus infection is usually caused by bacteria. The sinus infection treatment for this type can take four to twelve weeks to work.
- Chronic Sinus – Also known as chronic rhinosinusitis, it can go on for more than 12 weeks despite proper sinus infection treatment. This type of sinus can be caused because of multiple reasons, including immune system deficiency. This type of sinus is common in people who already have asthma or allergic rhinitis.
- Recurrent Acute Sinus – This is a type of acute sinus infection that occurs three to four times in a person in a year.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies are also called allergic rhinitis. These are the type of conditions that occur only in certain seasons. Seasonal allergies are characterized by constant coughing and sneezing that only happen during specific times of the year. This can be caused by the body’s response to pollutants or excess pollens in the environment. Below are some of the common symptoms that one experiences when suffering from a seasonal allergy.
- Running Nose
- Stuffy Nose
- Itchy nose and eyes
- Congested ears
Is it Sinisitus or Seasonal Allergy – Know the Difference
It is extremely common to get confused between a sinus infection and seasonal allergy. People also experience similar experiences that may cause them confusion. However, it is important to know the differences between the two so you can get the correct diagnosis and treatment.
While a sinus specialist can tell you the difference immediately, you should know the differences, too, so you know what kind of doctor to visit for your problems. Here are some ways that will help you differentiate between sinus and seasonal allergies.
- Symptoms – An easy way to know the difference between seasonal allergies and sinus infections is to observe your symptoms. Many people claim that the mucus colour can help you tell the difference, but it is not always a correct indicator. However, if you have itchy or watery eyes, you can be sure you have an allergy. It is one of the symptoms that can greatly help you differentiate the two.
- Treatment – The treatment for sinus and seasonal allergies will vary greatly. The allergy symptoms can be alleviated relatively quickly with the help of over-the-counter medicines and nasal spray. However, sinus will require you to be more patient with your treatment as a virus generally causes it and can take a week to 10 days to get better.
- Time – Look for the time when your symptoms appear. If you are only getting sick during certain times of the year, you probably have seasonal allergies. However, if you get symptoms randomly throughout the years without any specific environmental trigger, you are probably dealing with a sinus infection.
- Causes – Seasonal allergies are often caused by pollution or excess of pollen present in the environment. These are all external factors that can be linked to your immediate environment. However, sinus infections are caused by viruses or bacteria, even fungi in some cases. These can also happen due to pre-existing conditions that you may or may not have control over.
Effective Sinus Infection Treatment by Sinus Specialist
There are many sinus infection treatments you can explore to improve your symptoms. However, it is important to be mindful of the treatments you are doing to ensure you are getting the best results. It is best to consult a sinus specialist near you to ensure you are on the right path and treating your sinus the right way. Below, we have mentioned some sinus infection treatments that specialists recommend.
- Use decongestants to avoid congestion.
- Use over-the-counter antibiotics.
- Rise your nose with saline water or solutions.
- Keep yourself hydrated and consume plenty of fluid.
- If the sinus is caused by an allergy, use allergy medicines.
- Use painkillers to alleviate any painful symptoms.
In some cases, when the sinus is chronic, one may also need to use steroid medication and immunotherapy. However, it is highly recommended that you consult a sinus specialist before starting such treatments. They can guide you better about how to treat and manage your sinuses effectively.
Sinus Specialist Tips to Avoid Sinus Infection
It is always better to prevent than cure. With sinus infection you can also try different techniques that will help you avoid sinus infection. These are ways, especially by sinus specialists, to provide you with a solid list of recommendations to help you avoid getting sick.
- Avoid Allergens – It is extremely important to avoid any allergens that may irritate your nose. It can trigger a severe sinus infection that can cause you a week of distress. Also, avoid anything that may irritate your nose, such as smoke, pollen, etc.
- Elevate Your Head When Sleeping – When you sleep, ensure your head is elevated. You can achieve this by using two pillows or a higher pillow to sleep. This will help drain the fluids from your sinuses and avoid any discomfort caused by blocked sinuses.
- Avoid Dry Environments – Make sure not to be in dry environments too long, as it can dry out your nasal passages. Use a humidifier at home to maintain a good amount of moisture in your surroundings.
- Drink Water – Keeping yourself hydrated is of utmost importance. You do not want to dehydrate yourself and dry out your nose. This can trigger various issues and can cause you discomfort.
- Keep Your Nose Moist – rinse your nasal passages with saline solutions to ensure they do not dry out and stay moist. If you swim, do so in water with salt in it. This is a great way to prevent sinus infections from happening.
- Maintain Your Health – You should also ensure that you keep your immune system healthy. Sinus infections and immunity are linked, and it is crucial to ensure you take care of the latter to prevent the former.
Consult Sinus Specialist for Holistic Treatment
At ENTEgrity, we have some of the best sinus specialists with multiple years of experience. Our team consists of highly qualified and skilled doctors who have studied and treated sinus infections in many patients. We are headed by the best sinus doctors, who can provide the proper diagnosis or prognosis based on your condition.
If you suffer from a stuffy nose and low energy levels, contact us to know whether you have a sinus or a seasonal allergy. We will provide you with a holistic approach to treating your issues in the most comfortable way possible!