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Cold, Allergies, or Sinusitis?

Allergy and Asthma image

Cold weather is a prime time for stuffy noses, sore throats, and watery, itchy eyes. But if your symptoms last more than a week, or if they seem to turn off and on based on your surround­ings, you may be battling allergies or sinusitis. Proper diagnosis and treat­ment can lead to a quicker recovery.

Colds are caused by a virus, whereas allergies are caused by exposure to allergens. Colds and allergies can both lead to sinusitis, which occurs when the sinuses become swollen and block mucus from draining, leading to pain­ful pressure and infection.

Sinusitis can last for months, even years, if not properly treated. A doc­tor can diagnose sinusitis through a physical examination, but diagnosis may also require allergy testing, X-rays, or use of a fiber-optic scope.

Colds are the most common cause of sinusitis, but people with allergies or asthma are more likely to develop sinusitis.

Colds are the most common cause of sinusitis, but people with allergies or asthma are more likely to develop sinusitis because their nasal and sinus tissue can become swollen when they breathe in triggers like dust, pollen, or smoke.

When sinusitis is caused by an in­fection, antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria. Other treatments can include decongestants, nasal sprays, hot packs, humidifiers, and saltwater rinses.

If you have allergies, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of si­nusitis. Your doctor may recommend long-term treatments, such as allergy shots, medication to control inflamma­tion, and avoidance of allergy triggers.

Knowing whether your symptoms are caused by a cold, allergies, or si­nusitis is the first step toward choosing the proper treatment.

 

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Winter 2011-2012.