Is It Allergies or Sinusitis?

If you have sinus congestion and are sneezing, you might wonder if you have allergies or sinusitis. How can you tell the difference? In this blog, the doctors at CrossRoads Family Medicine discuss the similarities and differences between allergies and sinusitis.

What are the symptoms of allergies?

Allergies can be seasonal or due to specific causes. Seasonal allergies may occur in response to common environmental triggers, such as ragweed, pollen, or spores. You may notice that you have the same symptoms at the same time every year, usually in the spring or fall.

Other allergies are caused by other triggers, such as mold, pet dander, or even fragrances. You can have the reaction whenever you’re exposed to the cause of the symptoms.

Allergies, also called allergic rhinitis, cause cold-like symptoms. You may have a runny nose, sinus congestion, wheezing, and itchy, watery eyes. These symptoms may also include swelling in your nasal passages, which is your body’s reaction to trying to fight off the cause of your allergy.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

Sinusitis, also called acute sinusitis, is most often caused by a virus. Like allergies, sinusitis causes sinus congestion and a runny nose. But sinusitis also causes the following additional symptoms:

How is sinusitis different from allergies?

Allergies are caused by triggers, such as pollen or insect stings. Most people can relieve their allergy symptoms by taking over-the-counter antihistamine medications or prescription corticosteroid sprays.

Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus, and symptoms usually go away on their own in 7-10 days. Sometimes, however, sinusitis can develop after a cold. In this case, an antibiotic may be needed to relieve symptoms.

What is chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is an uncomfortable condition that doesn’t go away on its own or respond to standard treatments. The symptoms of chronic sinusitis last for at least 12 weeks. They include the same symptoms as regular sinusitis as well as the following additional symptoms:

The primary difference between acute and chronic sinusitis is that acute sinusitis goes away on its own. In addition to not resolving on its own, chronic sinusitis usually tends to have more severe symptoms.

Chronic sinusitis can be caused by the following:

You may also face a higher risk of chronic sinusitis if you’re regularly exposed to cigarette smoke or if you have asthma.

If you have any symptoms of allergies or chronic sinusitis, book an appointment over the phone with CrossRoads Family Medicine today. We can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and help you feel better.

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