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Allergies and Sinus Disease

Dear Dr. Kagen,

What is the difference between suffering from allergies and sinus problems?

Also, how can you tell what you are allergic to, mold spores, cat's or plants etc..

Are there different symptoms for each?

Thank you.

Thanks for asking about allergy and sinus symptoms and their possible causes.

Allergy has different names. [see "All About Allergy" section of] When allergy reactions occur in the eyes, we call it "allergic conjunctivitis". When it occurs in the nose, we name it "allergic rhinitis", and when allergy happens in the sinus regions, we give the disease the name "sinusitis".

Sinus headaches are very often due to allergic reactions in the mucus membranes of the upper airways. Common causes of this condition include aeroallergens such as pollens, mold spores, animal danders and cockroach or house dust mite excrement and droppings.

An "allergen" is something that can cause an allergic reaction. In order to detect and determine what if anything you may be allergic to, it is necessary to have diagnostic allergy tests. Allergy testing may include either skin tests or blood tests both of which are looking for allergy antibody reactivities.

The symptoms of allergic and non-allergic sinus symptoms are very similar, with the possible difference that allergy is more often associated with itching. Common symptoms of allergic sinus disease include having nasal congestion, a drippy and sneezy nose, sinus headaches associated with pressure pushing out from within and fatigue.

Sinus headaches with bad breath that you do not deserve is a good sign of a bacterial sinus infection.

It is important to have an accurate diagnosis of your allergy or sinus symptoms in order to receive the best treatment. Doctors can not treat a disease if they do not know what is wrong.

For answers to any other questions you may have, I suggest that you consult with your doctor and an Allergy Specialist in your area. I hope this info helps you.

Good luck.

Steve Kagen, M.D.