A stuffy nose sounds minor, but it can progress into chronic sinusitis that takes a toll on your health and your lifestyle. Allergies and sinus problems have a direct link because allergic reactions can block sinuses. Nasal structure and polyps also block sinuses.
Over-the-counter medications work well for an occasional flare-up. But, if you are sick more than two weeks or have a severe episode, it’s time to see an ENT doctor at Holston Medical Group.
Is it a Cold, Sinusitis or Allergies?
Symptoms can be very similar for a cold, sinusitis and allergies. So, it is difficult to know which is making you miserable. You can have a cold along with allergies or sinusitis, which adds to the confusion. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms is important.
How quickly symptoms appear and the duration can be telling. An allergic reaction can appear suddenly while a cold or sinus infection (sinusitis) can take a day or two to reach peak. Colds last about a week. Allergies and sinusitis continue a couple of weeks or be ongoing. In addition, fever and thick yellow/green nasal discharge is more common in sinusitis. If you are experiencing more of the sinusitis symptoms shown on the chart below, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Symptom Cold Chronic Sinusitis Seasonal Allergies Appearance of Symptoms Gradual Gradual Quickly Duration 7 to 10 days Ongoing Weeks Fever Rare Sometimes Never Yellow or Green Nasal Discharge Sometimes Common Never Itchy Eyes Rare Rare Common Sore Throat Common Sometimes Rare Sinus Pressure at Eyes and Cheeks Rare Common Sometimes Aches and Pains Sometimes Common Rare Runny or Stuffy Nose Common Common Common Headaches Common Sometimes
Diagnosis and Treatments for Sinus Health
Antibiotics can treat an occasional sinus infection, but you need more for chronic sinusitis. The first step is identifying the underlying reason that your nasal passages are blocked. Because chronic sinusitis and seasonal allergies go hand-in-hand, your doctor will assess your allergies. In addition, you’ll be examined for nasal structure and polyps. Treatments range from medications, lifestyle changes or surgery.
Avoiding Common Allergy Triggers That Can Cause Sinusitis
If you feel sick every time the weather changes, you may have seasonal allergies. One in five people in the United States suffer from airborne allergies. The layer of yellow pollen that covers everything outdoors in the spring kicks off allergy season. While fall triggers aren’t as visible, they are swirling in the air. In addition, there are indoor and summer allergens. It’s easy to see why many allergy sufferers have year-round allergies that develop into chronic sinusitis.
Avoiding your allergens or starting antihistamines a week or two before your allergies typically strike can be helpful in minimizing your symptoms. But, it is impossible to avoid all allergens in your daily life. If allergies make your life miserable, talk to an ENT physician about the best way to breathe easier throughout the year.