Are you experiencing a runny or stuffy nose and looking for relief? In order to treat your symptoms, it’s important to know what condition you’re suffering from. In this case, allergies or a sinus infection may be to blame. Below we review the different symptoms, causes and treatment options.
Symptoms of Allergies & Sinus Infections
The main overlapping symptoms between allergies and sinus infections are headache, nasal congestion and trouble breathing through the nose. If you have allergies, you may also experience itchy, red, watery eyes and sneezing. If you have a sinus infection, you may also experience thick nasal discharge, inability to blow your nose, toothache, bad breath and fever. If you experience overlapping symptoms, you may be experiencing both allergies and a sinus infection.
Causes of Allergies & Sinus Infections
Allergies are caused by an immune response while sinus infections are usually the result of a virus.
When you come into contact with an allergen, like an insect sting while on River Birch Trail, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which tell your cells to release the chemical histamine. Histamine causes inflammation, swelling and itching, along with all your other allergy symptoms.
When you catch a virus, the nasal and sinus cavities become inflamed. If mucus pools and/or bacteria grows in these cavities, a sinus infection is the result.
Treatments for Allergies & Sinus Infections
You can treat both allergies and sinus infections with over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants. Note that you should not take a decongestant continuously for more than 72 hours; they are for short-term use only.
Allergies can be treated with an OTC antihistamine or with immunotherapy. Some antihistamines, like Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin, can be used on a daily basis, while others, like Benadryl, are for non-continuous use only. Read the label carefully and talk to your health care provider to decide on an allergy medication that is right for your needs. Another option is immunotherapy, a long-term allergy solution that works by desensitizing your immune system to allergens.
A sinus infection is best treated by resting, drinking plenty of clear fluids and using a saline mist or rinse. If you have a persistent bacterial sinus infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an allergy and sinus expert, call Spartanburg & Greer Ear, Nose & Throat today.