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Do Allergies Cause Sinus Infections

What Kicks It Off

Seasonal Allergies or Sinusitis? – SLUCare Health Watch

With both sinusitis and allergies, your nose and sinuses get stuffed up, but it happens for different reasons.

If you have allergies, the passages of your nose and sinuses swell because they’re trying to flush out “allergens.” That’s just a technical word for anything you’re allergic to, like pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander.

Sinusitis usually develops because of allergies or a cold. Sometimes, but not often, it’s from bacteria that cause an infection.

When you have allergies or a cold, your nose and sinuses get inflamed. That blocks mucus from draining, which can cause an infection — not to mention pain and pressure.

If you have allergies, you’re more likely to have sinus problems. That’s because the inside of your nose and sinuses often swell up when you breathe in triggers.

Inhale Menthol And Camphor

Another inhaled odor that can help open up sinus passages is menthol, which is an ingredient in popular ointments that are used specifically to treat a stuffy nose. These ointments also contain eucalyptus oil and camphor, which combine with menthol to create a powerful scent that immediately relieves sinus pressure. This ointment can be rubbed on your chest and under your nose to deliver its soothing benefits. Unlike eucalyptus oil, this ointment should not be placed in the mouth.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis

  • Bad breath usually is due to bacterial infections
  • Itching/sneezing – In noninfectious sinusitis, other associated allergy symptoms of itching eyes and sneezing may be common but may include some of the symptoms listed above for infectious sinusitis.
  • Nasal drainage usually is clear or whitish-colored in people with noninfectious sinusitis.
  • Ulceration can occur with rare fulminant fungal infections with sharply defined edges and a black, necrotic center in the nasal area. Some fungal infections cause dark, black-appearing exudates. This requires immediate medical evaluation.
  • Multiple chronic symptoms usually are a sign of subacute or chronic sinusitis
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    Which Types Of Doctors Treat Sinusitis And Sinus Infections

    Many sinus infections can be treated by your primary care physician or an Internal Medicine doctor. However, it is not unusual to consult an ENT specialist, Infectious disease specialist, Allergist or Immunologist. With some complex sinus infections, a surgeon who specializes in sinus surgery may be necessary to consult.

    Allergy And Sinus Treatment Options: Balloon Sinuplasty And More

    Top 8 Sinus Infection Natural Remedies

    What can you do to relieve allergy symptoms? The answer depends on the severity of your allergies and how you react to allergy treatment medicine. One of the newest and most effective ENT treatments for sinusitis is balloon sinuplasty.

    What is balloon sinuplasty? Balloon sinuplasty is a revolutionary, minimally-invasive, in-office procedure that lasts less than 30 minutes and requires little to no recovery time. The procedure can provide fast relief from your allergy symptoms.

    During the procedure, a small balloon is partially inflated in the nasal passageways to clear and expand them and restore healthy drainage.

    For some, allergy treatment at home may be sufficient. These treatments can include oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, or neti pots. Others may choose to stay indoors as much as possible during allergy season, while others choose to pursue allergy shots.

    Also Check: Can You Take Allergy Medicine With Antibiotics

    Can Allergies Turn Into A Sinus Infections

    Sinus infections can develop due to various reasons, including allergies. So yes, allergies can turn into a sinus infection. Allergies and sinus infections share some similarities, but also have specific symptoms.

    It is important to understand the difference between these symptoms. You may need different treatments to manage certain forms of sinus infection. There can be a lot of confusion around sinus infections, allergies, and colds. The common cold is often mistaken as allergies and vice versa. Either way, colds, and allergies could lead to a sinus infection.

    Allergies develop when your immune system overreacts to allergens. The immune system produces antibodies that identify an allergen as dangerous, even if its harmless. When in contact with an allergen, the immune system responds by attacking it. This leads to inflammation of the sinuses, airways, skin, or digestive tract.

    Headache Triggers For People With Allergies

    Allergy doesnt always look like allergy and allergy symptoms can manifest in many different ways. Some experience itchy throat and runny nose. Others know their allergies are peaking when they experience headaches or migraines, and some find that headaches are their only allergy symptom.

    Though a definitive cause of migraines isnt totally clear, clinical evidence and research has shown a connection between migraines, headaches, and allergies. Foods, environmental factors and irritants can all be headache triggers.

    Read Also: Does Kaiser Cover Allergy Testing

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    Can Nasal Allergies Cause Sinus Problems

    Dr. Chacko Featured on the Cover ofAtlanta’s Top Doctor Magazine

    Most people wont think about their sinuses very much until theres a problem. An Atlanta ear, nose & throat doctor can help provide nasal allergy treatment and other solutions that impact the sinuses.

    These hollow spaces behind your cheeks, nose and forehead produce mucus that protects against bacteria and dirt. When a problem does occur, the swelling and inflammation can become painful and aggravating, and will be hard to ignore.

    Can Allergies Cause A Sinus Infection

    Sinus Infections: Causes & Treatments

    Allergic sinusitis is sometimes confused with nonallergic sinusitis because they share a few symptoms, namely nasal-related ones such as a stuffy nose and postnatal drip.

    Still, there are some telltale signs one is allergy-related sinusitis, and one is a sinus infection due to other causes.

    Nasal allergy symptoms occur due to your immune system’s reaction to certain allergens, such as pollen, dust, mold, or pet dander. People with nasal allergies are more likely to get sinus infections than people who don’t have allergies.

    But why? When allergies are poorly managed, nasal inflammation ensues, opening the door for more trouble.

    “If it’s a prolonged bout where the symptoms go on for several days, it often can lead to a sinus infection or something else because the inflammation in your sinuses makes it very hospitable for organisms,” says Dr. Sullivan.

    Most of the time, sinusitis stems from a virus, like the common cold. Additionally, it could be from bacteria or a fungus.

    Anatomical factors such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum increase the risk and irritants such as spicy foods, perfume, smoke, barometric pressureand yes, seasonal allergiescan trigger sinusitis.

    Also Check: What Allergy Medicine Is Stronger Than Zyrtec

    What Are The Types Of Sinusitis And Sinus Infections

    Sinusitis may be classified in several ways, based on its duration and the type of inflammation . The term rhinosinusitis is used to imply that both the nose and sinuses are involved and is becoming the preferred term over sinusitis.

    • Acute sinus infection usually lasts less than 3-5 days.
    • Subacute sinus infection lasts one to three months.
    • Chronic sinus infection is greater than three months. Chronic sinusitis may be further sub-classified into chronic sinusitis with or without nasal polyps, or allergic fungal sinusitis.
    • Recurrent sinusitis has several sinusitis attacks every year.

    There is no medical consensus on the above time periods.

    • Infected sinusitis usually is caused by an uncomplicated virus infection. Less frequently, bacterial growth causes sinus infection and fungal sinus infection is very infrequent. Subacute and chronic forms of a sinus infection usually are the result of incomplete treatment of an acute sinus infection.
    • Noninfectious sinusitis is caused by irritants and allergic conditions and follows the same general timeline for acute, subacute, and chronic as infectious sinusitis.

    Is It A Sinus Infection A Cold Or Allergies

    Your nose is stuffed and your head is pounding. Here’s how to tell if a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection is to blame.


    A stuffy nose and headache are common symptoms of many illnesses. So how can you tell whether the culprit is a sinus infection, a common cold, or allergies when the symptoms of these three conditions are so similar?

    “It can sometimes be difficult even for doctors to differentiate,” says Alan B. Goldsobel, MD, an allergist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California and an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California. But there are some key differences that can give you some clues. Get to know more about the symptoms of these three conditions to help you pinpoint the cause of your sinus congestion:

    A Sinus Infection

    A Cold

    • What it feels like: You can expect a stuffy nose, but also some runny, discolored mucus, Goldsobel explains. You may also experience a sore throat, cough, sneezing, headache, or fatigue. Another sign is a rising temperature: Colds often trigger a fever, he says, but sometimes those fevers are so mild that people think they have allergies instead.
    • What triggers it: A virus.
    • How long it lasts: People usually fend off the cold virus within seven to 10 days, Baroody says. But if your symptoms have lingered past that window of time, you might have sinusitis. If you suspect you have a sinus infection, you should talk to your doctor.

    An Allergic Reaction

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    How Can An Ent Help With My Allergies Or Sinus Infection

    An ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist, has special training in the diagnosis and treatment protocols for a variety of disorders of the head, neck and face. From simple sinusitis and allergies to surgical correction of physical deformities of the sinuses, voice disorders, or problems with the thyroidto name just a few of the conditions your otolaryngologist is trained to treat.

    Allergies are a common problem, and, when they are chronic, they can lead to debilitating symptoms. Dr. Dobson says her goal is to, Work on the allergies, get the symptoms under control, decrease the frequency of the flare ups, and get you feeling better.

    If you experience any of these symptoms that last more than 10 days, its more than time to see your doctor:

    • Balance or dizziness issues
    • Hearing loss or stuffy ears
    • Hoarseness or other voice issues
    • Pain in your ears, face, or teeth
    • Persistent sore throat
    • Recurring adenoid, ear, or tonsil infections
    • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
    • Trouble swallowing

    What Is Chronic Sinusitis

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    Chronic sinusitis is an infection and/or inflammation of the sinuses that persists longer than three weeks. It can be caused by allergies or may be caused by an infection. This inflammation of the sinuses can occur suddenly or follow after a respiratory infection like a common cold.

    If your sinus infection is chronic, our physicians can help identify a cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Treatments for chronic sinusitis may include:

    • Nasal steroid sprays
    • Immunotherapy

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    Whats The Difference Between Allergies And A Sinus Infection

    Sinus infections plague 31 million Americans every year. More than 50 million have some type of allergy. The symptoms of both are similar, so it can be hard to know if youre sneezing and have a headache from an infection or an allergic response. How can you tell the difference between allergies and a sinus infection?

    The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. today. Indoor and outdoor allergies cause sinus swelling, itching, runny nose, and a host of other symptoms caused from:

    • Cockroaches
    • Rodent dander
    • Tree, grass, or weed pollen

    An allergic response is triggered when your immune system overreacts to a foreign substance. It could be something youve consumed, touched, or just breathed in. Youll experience a scratchy throat, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing, and, if the reaction is severe, asthma, rashes, low blood pressure, and even death. There is no cure for allergies but they can be treated by your doctor.

    Rhinosinusitis , or a sinus infection, happens when your sinuses become swollen, inflamed, and infected. A virus is the usual culprit, although bacteria or fungus can sometimes be the cause. However, common allergies can even lead to a sinus infection.

    Both illnesses can make you feel awful, but they arent the same thing, and shouldnt be treated in the same way.

    Early Treatment Can Reduce The Need For Medications

    Around half of all sinus infections will resolve without antibiotics. In people with frequent infections it is important to treat the underlying problems, such as allergy, and to treat symptoms quickly to prevent the need for antibiotics.

    Examples of treatments include:

    • Steam inhalations use a bowl of hot water with a towel over your head. This will help to thin the mucus and make it easier to drain
    • Salt water irrigation of the nose using a commercial preparation will assist in nasal drainage
    • Antibiotics should be prescribed if symptoms persist.
    • Surgical removal of disease tissue, polyps and/or drainage of sinuses may be required for some people with chronic sinusitis, if medications do not control symptoms.

    ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.

    ASCIA resources are based on published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.

    For more information go to

    To donate to immunology/allergy research go to

    Read Also: Can You Take Allergy Medicine With Antibiotics

    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.

    How Do Allergy Shots Work

    Sinus Infections: Symptoms may be more than just allergies

    Rather than treating the symptoms of allergies,allergy shots work to eliminate future allergic reactions to specific substances or environmental triggers. Much like a vaccine, allergen immunotherapy slowly introduces your body to very small doses of an allergen, stimulating the immune system. Each time you receive an allergy shot, the dosage will be a little bit higher, thus re-training your immune system to tolerate the allergen.

    Most patients experience relief from chronic sinusitis symptoms with the first few months of treatment for long term relief from recurring sinus infections, most allergy specialists recommend that patients maintain an immunotherapy regimen for 3 to 5 years.

    Have questions about sinus issues and how you can find relief?Contact us today!

    Also Check: Can You Take Robitussin With Allergy Medicine

    What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Sinus Infections And Allergies

    Sinus infection

    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.

    When It Comes And When It Goes

    If you have allergies, you’ll start feeling symptoms soon after you come into contact with the stuff you’re allergic to. Your symptoms keep up as long as you’re still surrounded by those triggers.

    Allergies can happen any time of year. They may be “seasonal,” which means you get them only in the spring or fall. Or they may be year-round. For instance, you might be allergic to pets or mold, which can be a problem no matter the season.

    Sinusitis usually happens after you’ve had a cold or allergies. But certain symptoms will keep going, even after your cold goes away. You’ll probably have a stuffy nose and cough for more than a week or two.

    You may hear your doctor talk about two kinds of sinusitis: “acute” and “chronic.” There’s a simple way to tell them apart. If your symptoms last less than 4 weeks, it’s acute. If they go on for 3 months or longer, you have chronic sinusitis.

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    Why Should You Treat A Sinus Problem

    Some sinus problems will clear up without needing medication or treatment. Drinking water and rest can lead to the gradual easing of symptoms, but a more serious sinus problem could result in further issues. The build-up of mucus could cause a sinus infection that will only exacerbate the problem. In fact, an ear infection may be the side effect of congestion behind the eardrum. Also, mucus drainage down the throat could cause a sore throat and persistent cough.

    What Does An Allergy Headache Feel Like

    6 Symptoms of Sinusitis Infection: Treating a Sinus Infection

    When you experience a headache caused by allergies, you may feel them in any of these spaces within your sinuses. It may even feel like your face, rather than your head, is what really hurts. You may have pain in the cheeks that radiates to your jaw and teeth. You may feel pain on the top of your head.

    Allergies may also trigger a migraine headache. This type of headache may include throbbing, and is usually felt on one side of the head. You may find that the pain gets worse in sunlight or that you also feel nauseated.

    The skull has a series of connected, hollow spaces known as sinuses, which are lined with soft tissue and a layer of mucus. These sinuses help humidify and filter the air you breathe, and help drain the nose. Allergy symptoms often appear in the sinuses, like when your nose is running or stuffed up.

    Some of the spaces that make up the sinuses are found in the:

    • Cheekbones
    • Between or behind the eyes
    • Behind the nose

    You may experience headaches and pain if your sinuses are swollen or their openings are obstructed. This often happens with allergies. Swelling and blockage in the sinuses can prevent normal drainage and airflow, causing a buildup of pressure. Other allergy triggers, such as smoke or certain foods, can lead to headaches.

    The degree of pain from an allergy headache can vary widely, from dull to almost debilitating. The level of pain may also change with your position, such as whether you are standing or lying down.

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