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Allergies or Sinus Infection: Can you tell the difference?
by Jessica Pasek | Apr 30, 2018    Share

AllergyThe snow has melted, birds are chirping, and temperatures are slowly rising. Unfortunately, these are key indicators for those who suffer from spring allergies. Headaches and stuffy noses are common symptoms of both allergies and sinus infections—this can make self-diagnosing difficult.


According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, roughly eight percent of people suffer from allergy symptoms caused by exposure to grass, tree, and weed pollens. This is more commonly known as hay fever. Symptoms can include sneezing, itchy watery eyes, itchy throat, and nasal congestion. Some other less common symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, or a headache. In the end, allergies affect each person differently.

“Wearing a mask when gardening, keeping windows closed, and rinsing your eyes and nose with saline can help keep symptoms minimal,” said Otolaryngologist, Stephen Bovenkerk, DO. “Avoiding dusty or high foliage environments will also help.”

Treatment of allergies includes over-the-counter medications or nasal sprays. Symptoms can be reduced throughout the entire season if medication is started early.

Sinus Infection

Approximately 37 million people suffer from acute sinusitis each year. Symptoms may include a fever, thick yellow or green mucus, sinus pressure—which includes tenderness and swelling around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead—and reduced sense of smell and taste. These are caused by a virus or bacteria.

Resting in bed, drinking more fluids, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers and saline nasal spray can help symptoms dissipate.

“Wash your hands frequently, avoid large indoor crowds, and others who are ill,” said Dr. Bovenkerk. “If the symptoms last beyond 10 days, schedule an appointment to discuss possible antibiotic treatment, imaging, or surgical treatments.”

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