Allergic rhinitis and sinusitis may sound similar, and in fact, they share some characteristics, but the two conditions have a distinct set of causes and symptoms. After you learn a bit about the differences between sinusitis and allergic rhinitis, talk with your allergist to confirm what’s troubling your nasal passages sinuses, and together you can figure out a treatment plan.
Allergic Rhinitis definition
Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the membranes in your nose (nasal membranes), commonly triggered by exposure to certain allergens such as dust mites or pets. With allergic rhinitis, you may sneeze more often than usual, and have a stuffy, itching, and drippy nose.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of your sinuses. Your sinuses are the hollow passages in the bones surrounding your nose. They produce mucus to keep your nasal passages moist, and they drain into your nasal cavity.
Infections are a common cause of sinusitis. Infections can develop if the passages that drain into your nose get blocked or plugged. If you have sinusitis you may feel pressure in your sinuses and have mucus drainage in the back of the throat, called postnasal drip.
Allergic rhinitis symptoms
- Itchy nose, ears, and palate of your mouth.
- Rhinorrhea or drippy nose
- Postnasal drip or mucus that drains down the back of your mouth / throat.
- Swelling or blockage in your nose and nasal passages
- Loss of smell (anosmia)
- Tearing or red eyes
- Fatigue or feeling drowsy
Allergic rhinitis can lead to sinusitis. This happens when swollen or blocked nasal passages promote bacterial growth and lead to infection.
- Fever (sometimes)
- Feeling weak or fatigued
- Having a cough, and being congested
- Postnasal drip
- Pain or pressure in the nose and sinus area
Allergic rhinitis and common colds both can lead to sinusitis.
Treatment of allergic rhinitis
Medications can help relieve some of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
- These medications help alleviate the itchiness, sneezing, and runny nose common with allergic rhinitis.
- Topical steroids. Topical steroids reduce the symptoms listed above and also help reduce swollen tissues and open blocked nasal passages.
- Talk with your allergist to discuss options than can help lessen your allergic response.
Treatment of sinusitis
In treating sinusitis, it’s important to treat any infection and to restore drainage.
- Antibiotics will fight infection and help with drainage, too.
- Medications such as decongestants and expectorants may be prescribed.
- Heating pads and use of vaporizers and saline spray can help with congestion relief.
Because sinusitis is often linked to allergic rhinitis, your doctor may give you medications to treat the rhinitis, too. As mentioned above, topical steroids are very effective in reducing inflammation and swelling caused by rhinitis.
What can I do?
Allergic rhinitis and sinusitis can slow you down and make you uncomfortable. But, successfully treating and managing symptoms can help you maintain a normal active lifestyle.
For expert care and treatment, contact Dr. Cho at Allergy Tampa, call our offices today at (813) 971-9743, or use our online appointment request form.