Spring is in full swing now in Mechanicsburg. Which means spring allergies are in full swing now in Mechanicsburg. Between 40 and 50 million Americans experience seasonal allergies – but in some cases, those symptoms are actually the result of sinus infections. Being able to tell the difference will make treatment easier and speed up your relief.
Symptoms of Sinusitis & Allergies
Many of us are familiar with the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Pollen, mold spores, animal dander and other environmental factors can trigger a litany of symptoms including itchy eyes, nose and throat; watery eyes; nasal congestion and discharge; coughing; sneezing; hoarseness; post-nasal drip; irritability and fatigue. Because these same symptoms are associated with a chronic sinus infection known as sinusitis, diagnosis can be tricky.
To distinguish between the two, you’ll need to consider when and how often your symptoms occur. Generally speaking, allergy symptoms appear shortly after you come into contact with the allergen; they are your body’s immune system response to what it perceives to be a threat. Allergies are most common in spring fall but may occur year-round.
Sinusitis occurs when the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed. This often follows a cold or allergies and symptoms are very similar, though they often include facial pain and pressure and tend to be more persistent and longer-lasting. The condition is considered chronic when symptoms last for 12 weeks or more.
Treatment Allergies & Sinusitis
Your Mechanicsburg ear, nose and throat specialist recommends trying over-the-counter drugs to treat allergy symptoms initially. If there is no improvement, stronger prescription medications might do the trick. When even those are ineffective, immunotherapy may be recommended. This long-term strategy involves building up a tolerance to the allergen through injections or oral drops.
A similar approach should be taken with sinusitis. Medications such as decongestants and antibiotics are a good first line of defense, as well as nasal sprays and corticosteroids. These can be supplemented with home remedies like warm compresses and humidifiers. If symptoms persist, your ENT doctor may recommend surgery.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and underlying structural issues (e.g., deviated septum or nasal polyps), either functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) or Balloon Sinuplasty will be offered. FESS involves insertion of a thin, flexible tool with a small camera lens attached into your nasal passages; the camera transmits images to your surgeon, who will remove any blockages causing obstruction. Balloon Sinuplasty is a less-invasive procedure that utilizes a catheter with a small balloon attached to the end. This is guided through your nasal passages and the balloon is gently inflated, widening the nasal cavity to allow fluid to drain. Balloon Sinuplasty is generally reserved for patients with no physical obstructions.
If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above and aren’t sure whether allergies or a sinus infection are responsible, we recommend scheduling a consultation with a Mechanicsburg ENT. Regardless of the underlying cause, you should be able to find relief from your symptoms.