Is It Allergies or a Sinus Infection?

Do you ever wonder if it's allergies or sinus infections you’re experiencing? Sometimes it's hard to sort out, because the symptoms of allergies and chronic sinusitis overlap. To further confuse things, uncontrolled allergies make you more susceptible to sinus problems and may lead to recurrent or chronic infections.

Allergy Symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Irritation of the nose and throat
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Sinus pressure
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Allergy Testing

An allergy skin test is used to identify the substances that are causing your allergy symptoms. We apply several common allergens to the skin with a device (Comfort 10) that abrades the skin and then is observed for a reaction.

The testing is done on your forearms and takes 20 minutes. You should expect some itching at the site, much like a mosquito bite. The test is almost completely painless, we do not use needles, and allergy testing is covered by most insurance plans.

Treatment for Allergies

There are several types of allergy medications commonly used to treat allergy symptoms. There is no easy way to navigate all the options, but knowing what each medication does can help you decide.

Nasal Steroids Sprays

Out of all the allergy medications to help manage symptoms, nasal steroids are the most effective. Nasal steroids act on the following inflammatory hormones: histamine, prostaglandins, cytokines, tryptases, chemokines, and leukotrienes.

Examples of these sprays are Flonase™, Nasacort™, Sensimist™, and Rhinocort™.


Antihistamines, such as Claritin™, Allegra™, Zyrtec™, Xyzal™, Benadryl™, etc., reduce symptoms by blocking histamine from binding to its receptor


Leukotriene is another hormone that causes symptoms in patients with allergies. It is usually more of a problem in patients with chronic allergies and asthma.

This causes symptoms such as wheezing, cough, post-nasal drip, and shortness of breath. An example of anti-leukotriene is Singulair™ or montelukast.

Nasal Antihistamine Sprays and Antihistamine Eye Drops

Like oral antihistamines, these spray/drops target histamine, except they are directly sprayed in the nose or dropped in the eyes.

They work very well on itchy, sneezing, watery eyes, post-nasal drip, and runny nose symptoms.

Some examples of these include Astelin™ (azelastine), Patanase™ (olopatadine), Pataday™, Pazeo™ or Patanol™.

Nasal Decongestants and Oral Decongestants

These medications work on the blood vessels in the nose if sprayed and all over the body if taken orally.

It is best to reserve these medications for as-needed use when your symptoms are uncontrolled by other allergy medications.