How to Know If You Have Allergies vs a Sinus Infection

When you wake up with a stuffy nose, the first question that enters your mind is probably, “Why?” If you’ve been feeling this way for more than a few days, you know it’s not a cold. Could it be a sinus infection or allergies? The two are very similar and often get confused for one another, though they do have a few main differences. Keep reading to learn more about the triggers, symptoms, and treatment options for allergies and sinusitis.


With allergies and sinus infections, the nose and the sinuses become stuffed up. However, it happens for different reasons. If you have allergies, your sinuses and nasal passages swell because they are attempting to remove the allergen (dust, pollen, mold, etc.) from your body. Typically, sinus infections arise due to allergies or a cold. In other, rarer cases, the infection may be caused by bacteria. If you have a cold or allergies, your nose and sinuses become inflamed, which blocks the mucus from draining. This, in turn, leads to the infection, along with sinus pressure and pain. Those who have allergies are more likely to suffer from sinusitis.

When It’s Triggered

Those with allergies will begin to experience symptoms as soon as they come into contact with whatever they are allergic to. The symptoms will continue as long as you are exposed to the allergen. Allergies can occur at any time of the year. They can occur seasonally, usually during the spring or autumn. Or, they can occur all year if, for example, you are allergic to mold or pets.

Sinus infections are typically triggered after you have had allergies or a cold. Some symptoms can continue even after the cold or allergies have gone away, and you may have a cough or stuffy nose for longer than a week or two. There are two types of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis lasts for less than four weeks. If you experience sinus infection symptoms for three months or longer, you have chronic sinusitis.


As mentioned, the symptoms of allergies and sinus infections are fairly similar. Both can make you feel stuffed up. If you have allergies, you may also experience watery eyes, itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and wheezing. Those with sinusitis may have headaches, tooth pain, bad breath, thick yellow or green mucus, post-nasal drip, pain, swollen eyes, forehead, and cheeks, fatigue, slight fever, cough, and a sore throat. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis.

Sinus Infection

Treatment Options

The types of remedies available for both conditions are also dissimilar. For a sinus infection, your doctor may recommend antihistamines. You can also try a nasal decongestant spray or a nasal spray with corticosteroids. If the infection is caused by bacteria, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. You can also explore your natural treatment options like a humidifier, nasal irrigation, or a hot pack.

The most common treatments for allergies include decongestants and antihistamines, which can help to relieve a stuffy nose, itching, and sneezing. These are short term solutions and come with undesirable side effects. Many people are not aware that there is a holistic treatment for all of their allergies whether they are year round or seasonal. If you are looking for a natural alternative to allergy treatments, holistic allergy treatment in Arlington Heights, IL, can be a successful alternative.

Contact us at Midwest Allergy Relief Centers to learn more about your available holistic treatment options.