If you have never had a sinus infection or a nasal allergy, you may be confused as to which you have when you finally experience one or the other. You may even think you have a cold that has gone on forever, and does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. Here is how you can tell a sinus infection from a nasal allergy.
Nasal allergies often strike without much warning. You will feel an initial tickle in your throat or nose as an allergen comes into contact with you. If it is an allergen you are particularly sensitive to, the sensations will build and mucous production in your sinuses increases, creating that watery nose effect. Your eyes will water, and your sinuses will swell, putting some pressure in the middle of your face. Generally, an antihistamine alleviates most of your symptoms, which is also a dead giveaway that what you have is a nasal allergy. If you can figure out what the allergen is and remove it, then your symptoms should dissipate entirely.
A sinus infection is a dozen times worse than a nasal allergy. It usually starts out as a sinus cold, with most of your cold symptoms sitting right in the middle of your face and in your head. Even after some of these symptoms go away, the sinuses never seem to clear. The intense pain and pressure you feel are like nothing you have ever felt with a cold (or an allergy). These symptoms do not subside with any over-the-counter medications. Finally, you know it is asinus infection when you have thick yellow or neon green discharge from your nose and a fever that does not go away. Only antibiotics can alleviate a sinus infection because it is an infection and not something your body can shake off on its own after a week or with the assistance of OTC medications.
Other Tests That Can Help Decipher Your Upper Respiratory Issues
If for whatever reason, your symptomatology is atypical for both allergies and sinus infections, you can perform some other medical tests. A doctor, specifically an allergist, can perform allergy testing on you to see if you are allergic to anything commonly found in your home. If you are not allergic to anything, this rules out allergies. If you are allergic, you may be prescribed some stronger medications for allergies.
As for sinus infections, an ENT, or ear/nose/throat doctor can send a scope up your nose and into your sinuses to check for inflammation, irritated membranes, and choked off areas where there appears to be some discharge. Opening these areas to let the discharge out helps everyone see the color of the discharge, which also reveals signs of infection. Then your ENT would prescribe antibiotics and send you home.