Some people seem to constantly suffer with a blocked nose, tiredness, and sinus pain. This can get worse as time goes on, which often leads them to believe that they are suffering from a nasal allergy to dust or pollen. However, they are often wrong. A recent survey from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found that lots of people mistakenly diagnose themselves with a nasal allergy when they actually have sinusitis. The online study involved more than 600 allergy and asthma patients, and approximately half of them wrongly diagnosed their own symptoms without visiting a doctor.
If you have a stuffy nose and you’re not sure what is causing it, don’t worry. Here are some of the main differences between sinusitis and nasal allergies.
The Differences Between Sinusitis and a Nasal Allergy
Although the symptoms are similar, a nasal allergy is very different from sinusitis. Sinusitis can be caused by an infection, a deviated septum, or polyps in the sinuses, whereas an allergy is a disorder of the immune system.There are a few ways to tell the difference between a nasal allergy and sinusitis:
- If your symptoms include itchy or watery eyes and tend to last for months, it could be an allergy. While decongestants can help with this, antihistamines are a much better choice. It is also useful to check for allergens in your house; for example, your symptoms could be caused by a feather pillow or an air-freshener in your home, and if you remove it the symptoms will disappear.
- One of the main ways to tell the difference between a nasal allergy and sinusitis is facial pain. Sinusitis causes the nasal passageways to become inflamed, and mucus fills the sinuses which causes headaches, and a feeling of pressure and pain in the temples, forehead, and around the eyes.
If you experience any of these symptoms for longer than a week or so you should consider speaking to a medical professional as it is unlikely that you have a cold or the flu. If you experience these symptoms regularly it could mean that you have chronic sinusitis, and you should speak to a physician or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. If you regularly experience facial pain but no blocked nose, you should still speak to a medical professional, as sometimes the congested mucus is further back in the sinuses.
How to Relieve Allergy and Sinusitis Symptoms
- Using warm packs to drain mucus and soothe facial pain
- Cleaning the inside of your nose with a saline solution to help unblock your nose and remove mucus
- Using decongestants as they will lower the amount of mucus in your sinuses
If your problems persist you should speak to your doctor. He or she may prescribe antibiotics if the sinusitis is caused by a bacterial infection, in which case you will need to take them for up to two weeks. Some studies suggest that bacteria is rarely the cause of sinusitis, so antibiotics are prescribed with caution.
If you are suffering with nasal allergies, you can take antihistamines and other allergy medicines. However, it is important to make sure that the problem is actually caused by allergies before you start treating yourself with antihistamines. Speak to your doctor about taking an allergy test if you’re not sure.