Can Allergies Cause Sinus Infections?
Yes! Although there are many causes of sinus infections, your allergies are one of the leading factors. It is important to state that allergies and sinus infections are different. However, allergies can cause a sinus infection or make one more likely to occur.
A sinus infection occurs when there is an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. healthy sinuses are filled with air. However, when they become blocked and filled with fluid, germs can grow and cause an infection. There are two kinds of sinusitis. A short-term or acute sinus infection can occur after a cold, an allergy attack, or from pollutants in the environment. A long-term or chronic sinus infection is one that lasts longer than 12 weeks. Below are common symptoms of both kinds of sinusitis.
Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis:
- Facial pain or pressure
- “Stuffed-up” nose
- Runny nose
- Loss of smell
- A cough or congestion
You may also have:
- Bad Breath
- Dental Pain
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis:
You may have these symptoms for 12 weeks or more-
- A feeling of congestion or fullness in your face
- A nasal obstruction or nasal blockage
- Pus in the nasal cavity
- A runny nose or discolored postnasal drainage
Allergies are heightened sensitivity to a foreign substance (called an allergen) that causes the body’s defense system (the immune system) to overreact when defending itself. Normally, the immune system would only react if a harmful substance, such as bacteria, attacks the body. For people with allergies, their immune systems are working too hard and react even when relatively harmless substances, such as pollen, are present.
Symptoms of Allergies:
- Nasal Congestion
- Itchy, Watery Eyes
- Runny Nose
- Itchy Throat
Sinus Infection Vs. Allergies:
As you can see above, both allergies and sinus infections have similar symptoms. It’s easy to see why people so often mistake them for the same thing! Allergies and a sinus infection are not the same. Allergies are a cause of sinus infections. If your allergy symptoms are severe or last more than two weeks, make an appointment to determine the best course of action for your health!
Other Major Causes of Sinus Infections:
- Irritating Pollutants
- Swimming and Diving
- Flying/ Travel
- Overuse of Nasal Products
- Lack of moisture or dry air
- Unusual Anatomy
- Chronic Medical Conditions
What Can I do to Prevent a Sinus Infection?
If you’re prone to allergies or hay fever, avoid things that trigger allergic reactions, such as dust mites, pet dander, mold, and cockroaches. Prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines and prescription nasal sprays can reduce chronic inflammation in the sinuses and nasal lining.
Nasal corticosteroids can be particularly helpful if you have seasonal allergies and use them just as the allergy symptoms begin. That’s because when the season first starts, you need a lot of the allergen to cause symptoms. But as symptoms progress, lower amounts of allergen produce more symptoms. By starting the medication early, you might be able to diminish this effect and reduce your symptoms before they bring on a sinus infection.
It is important to note that is extremely necessary to cure a sinus infection. If left untreated, a sinus infection can spread to other organs and in some cases cause life-threatening conditions.
Consult with Dr. Arjuna Kuperan
If you think you may have a sinus infection and are considering surgery as treatment, seek the expertise of a Rhinologist like Dr. Kuperan who specializes in the treatment of sinus, nasal, and skull base disorders and a board certified Otolaryngologist (ENT). Dr. Kuperan will make sure you get a tailored procedure designed to get you feeling great again with minimal recovery time. To schedule a consultation please visit Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus or call us at 713-791-0700.