Is It Allergies or Sinusitis?

When you have sinus problems but don’t seem sick with a cold, it’s easy to assume they’re all due to the same problem — allergies. However, two common conditions cause a stuffy nose, and they require different treatment.

Each year, more than 50 million Americans struggle with symptoms of allergies. And, close on their heels, nearly 30 million more are diagnosed with sinusitis. So what’s the difference, and how can you finally get relief?

At Jacksonville ENT Surgery, with offices in Jacksonville and Lake City, Florida, Dr. Charles Greene and our team can get to the bottom of your symptoms to ensure you receive the most effective course of treatment. 

Recognizing allergies

When you have allergies, your body overreacts to a harmless trigger — or allergen — like pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander. This response causes your sinuses to swell and nasal passages to feel stuffy. The inflammation also prevents the extra fluids being produced from draining, causing mucus to build up. The result? That stuffy nose. 

Sinus problems from allergies can go back and forth between a stuffy nose and a runny one. It’s also common to experience additional symptoms, such as:

People with allergies can also suffer from a skin rash.

Understanding sinusitis

Unlike allergies, sinusitis can be triggered by a virus, bacteria, or severe allergies that cause blockage long enough that infection develops. Sinusitis also leads to thick yellow or green mucus from the nose or getting coughed up as phlegm because of post-nasal drip. 

Additional sinusitis symptoms include:

Acute sinusitis symptoms typically last less than four weeks. If they persist longer than 12 weeks, your condition could be classified as chronic sinusitis.

Managing allergies 

If you have allergies, we usually recommend antihistamines at first. That’s because your allergic reaction is due to histamine production by your body’s immune system. 

In most cases, over-the-counter medications can effectively manage allergy symptoms. However, Dr. Greene may also suggest corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. For extreme allergies, he may prescribe specialized allergy treatments like sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) or allergy shots.

Finding relief for sinusitis

When you have sinusitis, Dr. Greene often recommends nasal decongestant sprays and antibiotics for bacterial infections. However, if you have chronic sinusitis, he may recommend nasal steroids and decongestants. 

For sinusitis that doesn’t respond to conservative treatments, Dr. Greene may recommend balloon sinuplasty. This procedure — which involves inserting a small, flexible balloon to gently clear, open, and reshape the sinus — offers long-lasting results in a less invasive way than traditional sinus surgery.

Have you had nasal symptoms for more than 10 days? Don’t wait to contact the Jacksonville ENT Surgery location nearest you. Whether you have allergies or sinusitis, we can help you get the right diagnosis and treatment.

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