Do Allergies Cause Sinus Infections?

Mar 13 2018     /    

Seasonal allergies and the common cold are a fact of life for many people. However, a sinus infection is much more severe and makes everything worse. But what causes a sinus infection? Some believe that allergies may put people at a higher risk of these infections but is this really the truth? Just because you experience hay fever on occasion, could it mean that an infection is unavoidable?

 

Inflammation of Nasal Passages

 

The sinus cavity is a very sensitive area. It can be irritated by something as simple as dust or pet dander. A walk in the park at the beginning of spring could mean a trip to the doctor for those with severe allergies. After all, it is not uncommon to hear about a person suffering from a sinus infection shortly after the seasons change. In fact, there seems to be a rise in this condition when irritants such as plant life begins to bloom.

When sinuses are healthy, they are filled with air and regulate themselves naturally but once they become inflamed or swollen, the risks increase. Because bacteria, fungi and viruses may linger, the germs can spread and cause an infection. Conditions that can make symptoms worse include allergic rhinitis, a cold or even something severe as nasal polyps. If any of these conditions are present, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about steps that can be taken during allergy season to prevent it from becoming something more serious.

 

Types of Infections

 

There are a few different infections one can develop in their sinuses. Some can be resolved quickly but others may last a lot longer. The most common classifications of sinus infections are: acute sinusitis, sub-acute sinusitis, recurrent sinusitis and chronic sinusitis. Getting the proper diagnosis from a specialist will help you understand the correct steps to recovery.

 

Acute sinusitis is an infection that can easily be mistaken for a cold. The symptoms appear suddenly and usually include a stuffy nose, headaches, tight facial pain or a runny nose. Unlike a cold, these symptoms don’t go away after a few days. They can linger for two weeks and have trouble healing on their own.

 

Similar to the acute infection, sub-acute sinusitis is when the infection lasts for four to eight weeks. This can cause incredible headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite and even pus in the nasal cavity. Recurrent sinusitis is usually acute sinusitis that recurs a few times each year and chronic sinusitis is an infection that lasts longer than eight weeks.

It is clear that allergies can cause infections though not every person suffering from them will develop a sinus infection. If seasonal allergies are affecting your breathing and you are noticing cold-like symptoms, it is important to get help before an infection develops. Consult a specialist so that you may find ways to prevent seasonal allergies from becoming a sinus infection.

 

Dr. Samuel S. Becker is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a board-certified specialist in otolaryngology. He practices as an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

 

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