Colds And Allergies Are The Main Risk Factors For Developing Sinusitis
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses, commonly caused by bacterial infection following a viral infection such as the common cold. Other risk factors for developing sinusitis include untreated allergies, crooked nasal anatomy, smoking, nasal polyps and overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.
How Do We Know If It Just A Cold Or A Sinus Infection
Colds and sinus infections present with similar symptoms like congestion, sneezing, cough, etc. Colds happen when a virus infects the upper respiratory tract. This includes your nose, mouth and throat. Symptoms typically last for 7 to 10 days. Colds can cause sinus infections, but so can bacteria and allergies. Sinus infections are usually accompanied by sinus pressure in the front of the face or around your eyes, headache, bad breath or discolored mucus.
How Often Is Migraine Misdiagnosed As Sinus Headache
A studyof almost 3,000 patients with self-diagnosed or doctor diagnosed sinus headaches showed that 88% of the patients actually had migraine according to ICHD3 criteria, not sinus headaches! The most common sinus symptoms reported in that study were sinus pressure , sinus pain , and nasal congestion .
Another study called the American Migraine Study II showed similar results. This was a study involving 30,000 patients. About 50% of patients who were eventually diagnosed with migraine had been previously misdiagnosed, and the most common prior misdiagnosis was sinus headache.
Yet another study that looked at 100 patients with self-diagnosed sinus headaches. After a detailed history and exam, patients were given headache diagnoses based on the ICHD3 criteria. Of the 100 patients with self-diagnosed headache, 86% were diagnosed with a migraine related headache disorder, rather than a sinus related headache.
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Are Sinus Infections Common
Yes. Sinus infections are common, affecting 31 million people in the United States. There are two main forms of sinus infections, acute and chronic either can be viral or bacterial infections. An acute sinus infection can last from 10 days to eight weeks. Chronic infection often referred to as chronic sinusitis, can last even longer and continue for months.
Care Advice For Sinus Congestion
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Bacterial Sinus Infections: When To Suspect
- Yellow or green nasal discharge is seen with both viral and bacterial sinus infections. Suspect a bacterial infection if the discharge becomes thick . But, it also needs one or more of these symptoms:
- Sinus Pain, not just normal sinus congestion. Pain occurs mainly behind the cheekbone or eye or
- Swelling or redness of the skin over any sinus or
- Fever lasts more than 3 days or
- Fever returns after it’s been gone for over 24 hours or
- Nasal discharge and post-nasal drip lasts over 14 days without improvement
Allergies Vs Sinus Infection
Allergies can develop at any point in your life. While allergies tend to come up during childhood, its possible to develop allergies to new substances as an adult.
This type of reaction is caused by a negative response to a substance. Your immune system responds by releasing a chemical called histamine, which can then cause symptoms such as headache, sneezing, and congestion. Its also possible to feel foggy and develop a skin rash.
Severe allergies can lead to a cold-like condition called allergic rhinitis. With allergic rhinitis, you can have the above symptoms as well as itchy eyes. This itchiness is one of the key distinguishing factors between allergies and sinusitis.
A sinus infection, on the other hand, occurs when your nasal passages become inflamed. Sinusitis is most often caused by viruses. When the nasal cavity gets inflamed, mucus builds up and gets stuck, further compounding the problem.
Along with nasal congestion and headache, sinusitis causes pain around your cheeks and eyes. Sinus infections also cause thick, discolored mucus, and bad breath.
Compare the following symptoms to see if you have allergies or a possible sinus infection. Its also possible to have both conditions at the same time.
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Allergy Experts In Tampa
Our team of board-certified allergy and immunology specialists at Allergy Tampa will work with you to determine the underlying cause of your nasal congestion, as well as put you on the path toward recovery by making an accurate diagnosis of your condition.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, call 971-9743 or request an appointment with our online form.
Sinus Headache And Migraine Misdiagnosis And Mistreatment
The bottom line is that migraine is commonly misdiagnosed as a sinus headache by patients, physicians, and other medical professionals when there are sinus symptoms present. Unfortunately, what we end up seeing in the headache clinic are patients with a history of excess unnecessary antibiotics, sinus procedures, and minimal to no relief. By the time patients see us, they have often had sinus surgeries, which surprise, dont help them. Improvement usually doesnt begin until the headaches and sinus symptoms are treated as migraine.
Sometimes patients report their sinus headaches improve with these repeated courses of antibiotics, but this doesnt confirm a sinus infection. Many antibiotics have anti-inflammatory effects, and it is often this effect on the headache that is being felt rather than an infection being treated. In addition, unnecessary excess antibiotics lead to antibiotic resistance. So, when you actually do need that antibiotic for an infection it may no longer be effective against that bacteria . C-difficile infection is another complication of antibiotic use in some patients, so the less unnecessary gamble of antibiotic use the better.
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Common Sinus Infection Symptoms
- Loss of smell and taste
- Bad breath
In order to determine what condition you are suffering from, your physician will review your list of symptoms and perform a physical exam. The difference between these two conditions can be boiled down into two questions:
Is your sinus congestion accompanied by watery or itchy eyes?
Do you have a headache, pressure or pain in the face and chronic fatigue?
Watery or itchy eyes will lead your doctor to determine that you are suffering from seasonal allergies, while pain or pressure in the face combined with a headache and fatigue is usually an indication that you have a sinus infection.
The reason it is important to figure out what is causing your symptoms is because that will shape your treatment plan.
Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal or oral corticosteroids are used to treat seasonal allergies. Immunotherapy is an option for long-term relief of these symptoms.
Treatment for a sinus infection depends on the infections severity. Saline nasal sprays and corticosteroids are useful for rinsing your nasal passages and relieving inflammation. Decongestants are a good short-term solution, but extended use can actually worsen the condition. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, now is the time to do something about it. Contact your Houston physician to schedule an appointment today.
Can I Prevent The Allergies That Lead To A Sinus Infection
While you cant fully prevent allergies, you may be able to avoid what is causing the allergic reaction. For example, if you have seasonal allergies and the pollen count is high, stay indoors and keep the windows shut and air conditioning on. Knowing what causes the allergic response, and then mapping out a strategy of medications and avoidance techniques is something that your doctor can help you with.
However, prevention is possible with sinus infections caused by bacteria or viruses. Its always a good idea to get plenty of rest and exercise regularly to keep your immune system functioning. Some of the other preventative techniques to head off a sinus infection are similar to what youd do to stave off colds and flu, including staying hydrated and taking vitamin C to boost your immunity. Frequent handwashing was always important well before the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us to improve our hygiene. You should also avoid nasal irritants like smoke or other pollution. Keeping the nose hydrated with a saline spray will help the sinuses work more effectively.
Despite your best efforts, if you are experiencing the symptoms of a sinus infection, its important to see your doctor to diagnose whats going on and help you get better fast.
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Allergies And Sinus Infections
Similar to allergies, a sinus infection can interfere with your daily life and your overall quality of life. A sinus infection can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or in some cases, a fungus in your sinuses. Many people with allergies have inflamed nasal passages, leading to a sinus infection if left untreated.
How Nasal Allergies Can Cause A Sinus Problem
Common allergens that irritate the nasal passages include pollen, pet dander, dust mites, dirt and so on. Allergic people will react to these allergens by producing chemicals such as histamines. In the nose, the result can be swelling of the inside nasal layer. The swelling may be incredibly painful and bring on cold-like symptoms due to excessive mucus production.
It can be tricky to tell the difference between a sinus infection and a problem caused by allergies. Both conditions can lead to overproduction of mucus and result in a runny nose or congestion. You may also feel sinus pressure from swelling of the nasal passages. Nasal allergies can sometimes lead to itchy eyes, which are less likely with an infection. Speaking to an ENT doctor in Johns Creek, Canton, or a nearby Georgia location will help with a diagnosis.
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Allergies Sinuses And How They Can Cause Jaw Pain
As any sufferer knows, allergies can wreak havoc on your body. In addition to the well-known sneezing, sniffling, and red watering eyes, you may experience postnasal drip, coughing, and fatigue.6 Allergies can also clog the sinuses. Because of that, they could be the source of your nagging jaw pain.7
You probably identify sinus problems with nasal pressure. But allergies can cause lower jaw pain as well as the feeling of general pressure, especially if maxillary sinuses are obstructed. Inflamed and swollen sinuses can affect a number of areas of the face and head and result in issues ranging from headaches and earaches to facial tenderness near the eyes and nose that radiates to the jaw.8
Its possible that seasonal allergies could cause jaw pain in other ways, although more research is needed on the subject. Frequent sneezing and coughing force the mouth open which could lead to muscle tension and overuse strain and create issues with the jaw. Similarly, a stuffy nose may make you breathe through your mouth at night. If your jaw is strained open all night, it makes sense that you could wake up with jaw discomfort.9
And for people who have a temporomandibular joint disorder , its possible that allergies could exacerbate it and cause increased jaw pain. However, the sinuses are the key way allergies cause jaw pain.
What Causes Mucus In Eye And How To Get Rid Of It
Eye discharge is a combination of oil, mucus, skin cells, and other debris accumulating at the corners of your eyes during sleep. Sometimes it can be wet and sticky, and at other times it may be dry and crusty.
Although eye discharge may gross you out and be annoying to clean every morning, it actually has a protective function, removing waste products and potentially harmful debris from the tear ducts.
Eye discharge is formed while youre asleep because, during the day, frequent blinking bathes the eyes, preventing the mucus from accumulating. When we sleep, we do not blink, so the mucus piles up.
A small amount of eye discharge upon awakening is normal, but excessive mucus or a weird coloryellow or greencould indicate a serious eye problem.
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Symptoms Of Sinusitis And Allergies
Sinusitis and allergies can cause swelling in the nasal passageways, leading to a stuffy nose, or congestion. They both can cause headaches and a feeling of pressure along the sinuses, resulting in pain on the face.
However, there are certain distinctions that can help determine whether youre experiencing an allergic reaction or sinusitis.
Allergies can come without warning or with seasonal changes. Sinusitis typically follows a cold or other viral infection.
A person might be having an allergic reaction if they have:
- Symptoms that come and go or appear only at certain times of the year
- Symptoms that appear only in specific situations, like at a pet store
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Watery, clear, or thin discharge from the nose
- Constant sneezing
A person may have sinusitis if they experience:
- Thick mucus thats yellow or green
- Symptoms that do not seem related to particular locations or circumstances
- Pain in the gums or above the teeth
- Bad breath
- Severe pressure in the face
- A diminished ability to smell or taste
- A fever
Treatment For Chronic Sinusitis
Antibiotics: The usual method of treatment for bacterial sinusitis is through a prescription for antibiotics. The length of the antibiotics course depends partially on the type of medicine that is taken, and also it depends on how severe or lengthy the case of sinusitis has been. The normal experience for a patient is that the medicine is taken for 3-28 days.
In light of common issues connected with antibiotics, such as abuse and overuse, there has been an obvious decrease in the effectiveness of these medicines. If a patient has only been experiencing symptoms for a few days, it is likely antibiotics will not be prescribed. If the symptoms are persistent , or worsening, a patient should then acquire a prescription for antibiotics from their doctor.
The purpose of antibiotics is not to alleviate symptoms, but to attack the bacterium that causes the infection in the first place. Therefore, when the antibiotics are taken, the effects may not be felt for a few days until the bacteria have been fully attacked.
If a patient needs immediate pain or symptom relief, there are various over-the-counter medications that can help.
Nasal Decongestant Sprays: Nasal decongestant sprays are not designed to fix the overall issues pertaining to sinus infections, but as a symptom reliever, to reduce swelling in the nasal passages, helping the flow of bacteria and mucus to be facilitated and clear the sinuses.
Surgery for Chronic Sinusitis
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Why So Thick Why So Green
When the white blood cells in the mucosa encounter an irritant or infectious organism, they respond by producing enzymes to repel the invaders. These enzymes contain iron, and thats what gives the nasal discharge the green color. And if the mucus sits around , it becomes more concentrated and so may appear darker yellow or green. This is the natural order of things, whether the offending agent is a virus or a bacterium.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Sinus Infections And Allergies
There are many signs and symptoms of sinusitis and sinus infections. The following is a summary of predominant ones that may occur. Most patients have several signs and symptoms at the same time. Others may have some symptoms that are intermittent most do not have all symptoms at once. The signs and symptoms of a sinus infection or sinusitis include the following:
Allergic rhinitis is the correct term used to describe the allergic inflammation of the nasal passages. Rhinitis means “inflammation of the nose” and is a derivative of rhino, meaning nose. Allergic rhinitis that occurs during a specific season is called “seasonal allergic rhinitis.” When it occurs throughout the year, it is called “perennial allergic rhinitis.” Rhinosinusitis is the medical term that refers to inflammation of the nasal lining as well as the lining tissues of the sinuses. This term is sometimes used because the two conditions frequently occur together.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, frequently include
- nose, eye itching, and
- excess tear production in the eyes.
Many people with allergies have difficulty with social and physical activities. For example, concentration is often difficult while experiencing allergic rhinitis symptoms.
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Why Does Everyone Seem To Have Sinus Infections Starting In The Fall
Fall is a common time of year for sinus infections due to types of seasonal pollen like ragweed, HVAC systems and the start to school, where viruses are more easily passed from one person to another. Allergies cause sinus infections by increasing inflammation and swelling inside the nose. When the nose is stuffy, it isnt able to warm, filter or moisturize the air you breath and sinuses cannot drain as they should to keep you healthy. Mucus that remains in the sinuses can become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.