What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

Sinus infections generally require treatment with a combination of therapies. Antibiotics may be given for 2 or more weeks and frequently more than one course of antibiotics may be required. Medications to reduce nasal blockage or control allergies may also be prescribed. These medicines may include: decongestants, mucus-thinning medicines, oral steroids, antihistamines, and/or topical nasal steroid sprays. For persons with year-round allergies or irritant sensitivity (non-allergic rhinitis), long-term daily anti-inflammatory treatment is often necessary to reduce the risk for recurrent infections. At times, effective treatment of “true” nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis) may require immunotherapy (also called "allergy shots").

Allergy shots are typically recommended only when available medications fail to adequately control allergic symptoms. Allergy shots do not improve symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis. In addition, the use of a saline sinus rinse solution, especially during an athletic sinus infection or after an allergen / irritant exposure, may also assist to improve nasal symptoms. Occasionally, a sinusitis may be due to a fungal infection. If your physician suspects this, treatment with the anti-fungal medication Amphotericin B may be added to the saline sinus rinse.

In cases of persistently obstructed sinus passages due to structural or anatomic problems, evaluation by an Otorhinolaryngologist (ENT), a medical specialist trained in the surgical correction of ear-nose-and throat problems, may be required.

Favorite Resources for Finding a Specialist

American Rhinologic Society

Through research, education, and advocacy, the American Rhinologic Society is devoted to serving patients with nose, sinus, and skull base disorders.

Their website’s thorough coverage of sinus-related issues includes rarer conditions, such as fungal sinusitis, which are often excluded from other informational sites. It also provides a valuable search tool to discover a doctor, as well as links to other medical societies and resources that are useful for patients.

Cleveland Clinic

Their website contains an exhaustive guide on sinusitis and an easy-to-use «Find a Doctor» search tool.


ENThealth provides useful information on how the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) are all connected, along with information about sinusitis and other related illnesses and symptoms, such as rhinitis, deviated septum, and postnasal drip.

As part of the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, this website is equipped with the ability to assist you discover an ENT specialist in your area.

Itchy eyes, a congested nose, sneezing, wheezing and hives: these are symptoms of an allergic reaction caused when plants release pollen into the air, generally in the spring or drop. Numerous people use hay fever as a colloquial term for these seasonal allergies and the inflammation of the nose and airways.

But hay fever is a misnomer, said Dr.

Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat doctor and sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

«It is not an allergy to hay,» Josephson, author of the book «Sinus Relief Now» (Perigee Trade, 2006), told Live Science. «Rather, it is an allergy to weeds that pollinate.»

Doctors and researchers prefer the phrase allergic rhinitis to describe the condition. More than 50 million people experience some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2017, 8.1% of adults and 7.7% of children reported own allergic rhinitis symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Worldwide, between 10 and 30% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, Josephson said.

In 2019, spring arrived early in some parts of the country and later in others, according to the National Phenology Network (NPN). Spring brings blooming plants and, for some, lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. According to NPN data, spring reared its head about two weeks early in areas of California, Nevada and numerous of the Southern and Southeastern states. Much of California, for example, is preparing for a brutal allergy season due to the large quantity of winter rain. On the other hand, spring ranged from about one to two weeks tardy in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic U.S.

[Watch a Massive ‘Pollen Cloud’ Explode from Late-Blooming Tree]

Sinusitis Treatment Regimen

The Best Research Resources

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

This academy’s website provides valuable information to assist readers determine the difference between colds, allergies, and sinusitis. A primer guide on sinusitis also provides more specific information about the chronic version of the illness. Additional resources include a «virtual allergist» that helps you to review your symptoms, as well as a database on pollen counts.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI)

In addition to providing a comprehensive guide on sinus infections, the ACAAI website also contains a wealth of information on allergies, asthma, and immunology.

The site’s useful tools include a symptom checker, a way to search for an allergist in your area, and a function that allows you to ask an allergist questions about your symptoms.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)

For allergy sufferers, the AAFA website contains an easy-to-understand primer on sinusitis. It also provides comprehensive information on various types of allergies, including those with risk factors for sinusitis.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC website provides basic information on sinus infections and other respiratory illnesses, such as common colds, bronchitis, ear infections, flu, and sore throat.

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

It offers guidance on how to get symptom relief for those illnesses, as well as preventative tips on practicing good hand hygiene, and a recommended immunization schedule.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

The U.S. National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest biomedical library. As part of the National Institutes of Health, their website provides the basics on sinus infection. It also contains a number of links to join you with more information on treatments, diagnostic procedures, and related issues.


The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may at first feel love those of a freezing.

But unlike a freezing that may incubate before causing discomfort, symptoms of allergies generally appear almost as soon as a person encounters an allergen, such as pollen or mold.

Symptoms include itchy eyes, ears, nose or throat, sneezing, irritability, nasal congestion and hoarseness. People may also experience cough, postnasal drip, sinus pressure or headaches, decreased sense of smell, snoring, sleep apnea, fatigue and asthma, Josephson said. [Oral Allergy Syndrome: 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy, Tingling Mouth]

Many of these symptoms are the immune system’s overreaction as it attempts to protect the vital and sensitive respiratory system from exterior invaders.

The antibodies produced by the body hold the foreign invaders out, but also cause the symptoms characteristic of allergic responses.

People can develop hay fever at any age, but most people are diagnosed with the disorder in childhood or early adulthood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms typically become less severe as people age.

Often, children may first experience food allergies and eczema, or itchy skin, before developing hay fever, Josephson said.

«This then worsens over the years, and patients then develop allergies to indoor allergens love dust and animals, or seasonal rhinitis, love ragweed, grass pollen, molds and tree pollen.»

Hay fever can also lead to other medical conditions. People who are allergic to weeds are more likely to get other allergies and develop asthma as they age, Josephson said. But those who get immunotherapy, such as allergy shots that assist people’s bodies get used to allergens, are less likely to develop asthma, he said.


The Nasal sinuses are hollow cavities found within the skull and located behind the eyes, the nose and the cheek bones.

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

The primary function of these sinuses is to warm, moisten and filter the air passing through the nasal cavity. The sinuses also frolic a role in our ability to vocalize certain sounds.Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses, and is most common in the winter months. Sinusitis may final for months or even years (if inadequately treated), and sinusitis is often misdiagnosed as nasal allergies. This is especially true for young children who are often thought to be suffering with allergies during a sinus infection because their nasal drainage is observed to be “mostly clear” or because they own only nasal congestion.

Nasal drainage, when present during sinusitis, can be either colored or clear. The precise diagnosis of true nasal allergy can only be made by documenting the presence of allergic antibodies (IgE); either by skin testing or blood testing (RAST). Sinusitis can produce symptoms in the nose, eyes, throat, middle ear and even the lungs. Sinusitis may cause extremely noticeable symptoms such as facial pain, headache, thick nasal drainage or “post-nasal drip” (which may result in a productive cough).

Conversely, sinusitis may cause only mild symptoms such as throat clearing, nasal congestion (with or without drainage), a non-productive “dry” cough, toothache (upper teeth), ear pain, balance problems, fatigue, or even concentration difficulties. Sinusitis is also a extremely common trigger of asthma symptoms in asthmatics. Only very rarely does a sinus infections cause a fever.

There are two types of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is typically caused by a bacterial infection. It often develops as a tardy complication following a viral respiratory infection (“the common cold”).

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

Sinusitis should be suspected whenever nasal symptoms final for more than 2 weeks. Acute sinusitis generally causes more prominent or noticeable symptoms than chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitisis also generally caused by bacterial infections however; this diagnosis requires that nasal symptoms be present for more than 6 weeks. When laboratory cultures are performed on chronically infected sinuses, multiple strains of bacteria are often found to co-exist. Each bacterial strain has its own unique antibiotic sensitivity profile and a single course of antibiotics will frequently fail to kill all the strains present in a chronically infected sinus.

Although viral “colds” are the most common preceding cause of acute sinusitis, people who suffer with nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis) or environmental irritant sensitivity (non-allergic rhinitis) are also at risk for developing frequent sinusitis.

These nasal problems cause swelling of the mucous membranes lining the sinuses. If the little opening of a normally hollow sinus cavity becomes blocked, mucous accumulation can happen. The inability to clear mucous from the sinuses allows for bacterial growth, which then leads to further mucous membrane inflammation and prolonged sinus obstruction.

Most patients with recurring sinusitis own more than one problem that predisposes them to infection. Addressing all potentially relevant factors is key to successfully breaking this pattern.

Persons with sinus problems should avoid environmental irritants such as tobacco smoke, and any other triggers which own been noted in the past to worsen their nasal symptoms. Environmental irritant sensitivity (Non-Allergic Rhinitis) causes symptoms that are almost identical to those of true allergy (Allergic Rhinitis). Among persons suffering from allergic rhinitis, about 70% also suffer from non-allergic rhinitis. Unfortunately, some of the medications commonly used to treat Allergic Rhinitis (i.e.

Claritin / Allegra / Zyrtec), own no significant effect on controlling the symptoms of Non-Allergic Rhinitis. Treatment of nasal inflammation with the appropriate medication(s) can often control nasal obstruction, thereby reducing the risk for developing recurrent infections. Making the correct diagnosis concerning the cause of the nasal symptoms is the most significant factor in choosing the medication(s), which will most likely be effective for each individual.

In addition to causing nasal inflammation as an irritant (non-allergic rhinitis), tobacco smoke exposure also adversely affects nasal cilia.

Cilia are microscopic hair-like projections from the surface of the cells lining the respiratory system (mucous membranes).

Cilia beat in a coordinated fashion to move mucous and bacteria below and out of the sinuses and up and out of the lungs toward the back of the throat where they are normally swallowed. Smoke exposure causes the cilia to beat in an uncoordinated manner decreasing the normal clearance of mucous and bacterial. This is why children of smokers own a higher incidence of ear infections and why smokers own more bronchitis and sinusitis episodes than non-smokers. (See www.AlamoAsthma.com for “scientific studies” concerning tobacco smoke)

Some people (both adults and children) who suffer from recurrent sinusitis own poor immunity to a bacterial organism that cause the majority of sinus infections: Streptococcus pneumonia. If there are low levels of protective antibodies (IgG) to these organisms in the blood, a person may get the same type of bacterial infection over and over again.

Frequent nasal and ear infections happen even among normal healthy children under the age of two. Under normal circumstances, each new infection triggers the immune system into creating a endless lasting protective IgG antibody response and over time, the frequency of these childhood infections normally decreases. We own noted that persons with poor immunity to these organisms often never seem to “out-grow” their frequent infection period.

Children who own failed to develop protective antibody levels following their infancy immunizations with the pneumococcal (7 strain) vaccine are especially at risk for frequent infections. These immune system problems are easily diagnosed by blood testing and if present, are generally correctable by istering the appropriate booster vaccination(s). After age 2, if needed, children (and adults) can be immunized with a vaccine called “Pneumovax” containing 23 diverse varieties of Streptococcus pneumonia.

Finally, structural problems inside the nose that narrow the air passages such as polyps, a deviated nasal septum (the bone and cartilage structure that separates the left and correct sides of the nose), or enlarged adenoids may also contribute to the risk for recurrent sinusitis.

Surgery is sometimes needed to correct these issues. Even if symptoms seem to be coming from the sinuses, the sinuses are not always infected. To make a correct diagnosis, a physician will need to take a history and act out a physical examination. The physician may also order testing to assist determine the factors contributing to recurrent infection.

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

These tests may include: allergy testing, immune system testing, or a CAT scan (which shows extremely precise images of the sinus cavities). In addition, it may be necessary to collect samples of the nasal secretions for evaluation or culture.

Wellington S. Tichenor, M.D.
642 Park Avenue
New York, N.Y.
212 517 6611

I own treated patients with sinus problems for about 25 years. In the past 10-15 years it seems sinus infections own gottenprogressively worse. More and more people suffer for longer andlonger periods of time.

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

I am one of those sufferers. My sinusinfections started as a result of not being adequately treatedfor a freezing. Over the course of three years they gotprogressively worse. As a result I ended up having to havesurgery (twice) and now own been essentially cured, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still get occasional episodes of sinusitis. The sinusitis is much easier to treat, however. Fortunately,most patients are capable to be treated without surgery. Ninety to 95% of patients with chronic sinusitis can beeffectively treated with medical therapy.

You may then enquire, if 95% of people with sinusitis get better, whyhaven’t my symptoms gone away?

The reason is extremely simple. Sinusitis is extremely hard to treat. As a result, patientstypically don’t get better quickly, and if they’re nottreated correctly they may never improve. If you’re notgetting better it doesn’t mean that you’re not gettinggood care, but it may mean you’re not getting the verybest care. Unfortunately most doctors don’t understand the bestway to treat it.

I am a medical specialist in treatment of sinusitis. Lots of people are surprised that I am not an ENT surgeon. But going to an ENT is love going to a cardiovascular surgeon if you own chest pain from heart disease.

You see a medical specialist first ( a cardiologist) for medical treatment.

This is not to tell that ENT surgeons shouldn’t treat sinusitis. Often they can, but if you see a surgeon, you are more likely to own surgery than if you see a medical specialist in sinusitis.

What is the difference between a sinus infection and allergies

And in addition if you own already had surgery, it may be much more hard for the ENT doctor to treat you.

My original training was in internal medicine and allergy, so although I don’t take care of general medical problems any more, I do take care of some patients with allergies and asthma. (By the way lots of people withoutallergies see allergists; we don’t just give allergyshots — too bad most people don’t know that. They could getbetter a lot faster because we know a lot more about treatment of problems love asthma, allergies and sinusitis).

In fact the vast majority of patients that I see don’t even own allergies at every, they own sinusitis.

This is the hardest section for me to record in thisentire website. I would love for you to be capable tounderstand how I treat patients in my office so that youcan get the best treatment for your sinusitis wherever youcan go for treatment. If you own read this far, you probablyhave spent much time, energy and money trying to get better. Ifyou haven’t had to spend that much, you are fortunate. It is hard for most people tounderstand that a sinusitis specialist has special skills(and I’m not including surgery) which permit them to be successfulin treating a hard problem love sinusitis.

That concept maybe hard to convey here, but by the time you’ve finishedbrowsing through this website, I hope I will own achieved it. It is love a patient with chest pain going to see a cardiologist if the internist can’t take care of the problems initially.

Probably as a result of having sinus problems myself, I own mademany changes in the way I treat sinus infections-not so much inthe medications or dosages, but in terms of the approachto treatment. When I had sinus infections, I felt love lifewasn’t worth living any more, between the exhaustion, pain andjust feeling miserable.

I was terrified of havingcomplications from the sinus infections, but even morescared of having surgery. I had side effects from themedications that nobody had heard of, and it seemed likethere was just one problem after another. I ponder having gonethrough that made me 1) appreciate much more about how patientssuffer with sinus infections, 2) understand more about howpatients need to be treated as well as 3) empathize better withwhat they are going through.

The first time a patient comes into my office we own them fillout some forms, and then I will go over their history indetail.

The history is probably the most importantpart of my evaluation. We get a strong suspicion not only ofwhether a sinusitis is brewing but also clues to treatment andfactors which may worsen it. I spend a lot of time going throughmy patient’s history (you can’t do it in 5 minutes) and thendo an examination. I was trained as an internist, so I don’tjust glance at my patient’s nose, but also hear to their heartand lungs as well as whatever else is necessary.

It takes along time (often 1-2 hours)to review every of the problemsas well as the kinds of treatments that are used. We don’t justtreat the initial symptoms, we desire to get you betterpermanently. It isn’t simple. It means taking medicationsand sometimes altering various things about your lifestyle. Itcould be as simple as getting a vaporizer and putting it by yourbedside so your nose and throat don’t get dried out at night, orit may mean keeping a glass of water by your bedside.

Butsometimes it means making major lifestyle changes.

People often enquire how endless they own to take medications. It isoften for weeks or months, but after a while, you usuallycan taper off the medications. Some people do need to haveongoing treatment, but obviously we would love to attempt to minimizethat if at every possible. I talk to my patients about what can bedone in order to do that. What is critically significant though,is to get you over your sinusitis completely if it is at allpossible.


Of the commonly used medications, the ones we love to use as briefly as possible are the antibiotics.

Endless term use can cause resistant bacteria (a extremely serious problem now), allergy and side effects. Other medications we use commonly include mucus thinners, decongestants, steroid and antihistamine nasal sprays, and anti-inflammatory agents. We also sometimes use antifungal agents.
In the course of the relax of the website we will discuss most of the medications that need to be used to treat sinusitis. Because of the number of requests, we own included a partial list here.

It is significant to realize that some or every of them may need to be used in each patient. Please discuss the medications with your doctor. Please do not send emails asking about specific medications as those must be discussed with your doctor. In some cases we own included hyperlinks explaining the medications. In others you must use the search engine Please read through the website so that you can better understand what the various treatments can do:

The most significant treatments are in bold.

The costs of sinusitis treatment arenot so much the doctors bills, but medication and other costs,especially if you don’t own a prescription plan.

Antibioticstypically may cost $100 per week, but if treatment isn’t optimal, there is also the potential loss ofwork time. There are also laboratory costs and the costs of surgery if treatmentisn’t provided soon enough, which can run up to $100,000.


How to Stay Healthy, Breathe Easier, and Feel Energetic This Winter

Indoor allergies, freezing weather, less sunlight — winter can make it hard to stay well mentally and physically.

Discover out how to protect yourself against seasonal allergies, the winter blahs, freezing winds, comfort-eating traps, and fatigue this year.

Learn More About the Ultimate Winter Wellness Guide

Sinusitis can be a confusing thing to treat for anyone. Because a sinus infection can be so easily confused with a common freezing or an allergy, figuring out the best way to alleviate your symptoms can be difficult.

Even more challenging, a sinus infection can evolve over time from a viral infection to a bacterial infection, or even from a short-term acute infection to a long-term chronic illness.

We own provided for you the best sources of information on sinus infections to assist you rapidly define your ailment and get the best and most efficient treatment possible.