Entellus Medical

Allergies or chronic sinusitis?

02/18/2015 by Entellus Staff

For many people, it can be difficult to distinguish between symptoms of allergies and those associated with chronic sinusitis. To make things more confusing, untreated allergies can cause nasal passages to swell and trigger sinusitis.

Finding relief begins with finding a cause. Treatment options for seasonal and indoor allergies include antihistamines, steroids, and allergy shots given by a doctor. Chronic sinusitis is often caused by underlying problems with the structure of the sinuses and is best treated by an ear, nose and throat specialist. Your doctor may determine that sinus surgery is needed to open sinus pathways and restore drainage.

How to tell the difference

The two main causes of year-round sinus suffering are nasal allergies and chronic sinusitis, but how do you know which one you have? Your doctor will look at your entire health history and may order allergy testing to determine the cause of your sinus problems. While many symptoms are common to both allergies and sinusitis, a look at the predominant symptoms can provide clues to what's ailing you.

Allergy symptoms:

  • Runny nose or sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, nose or throat
  • Congestion or headache

Sinusitis symptoms:

  • Facial pain and pressure
  • Congestion
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Yellow, green, or grayish nasal discharge

When a chronic condition is left untreated

If chronic sinusitis is misdiagnosed as indoor or seasonal allergies and treated only with over-the-counter remedies, swelling and infection can linger or return again and again until the underlying sinus problems are corrected, often with sinus surgery.

Chronic sinusitis lowers your quality of life. Severe congestion and headaches can interfere with sleep and cause you to miss work. When you are fatigued and plagued by pain, it is difficult to enjoy time with friends and family.

Balloon sinus surgery may be the answer  

If you suspect that your sinus problems may be caused by chronic sinusitis, make an appointment to see an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT). An ENT can determine whether you are a candidate for balloon sinus dilation surgery. 

This surgery is a convenient, comfortable alternative to traditional, endoscopic sinus surgery and can be performed in the comfort of your doctor's office.