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Allergies and Chronic Sinusitis

Many people suffer from seasonal allergies this time of year, and many people may also suffer from perennial allergies all year round, to pet dander and dust mites.

Allergy symptoms may include itchy, watery eyes, an itchy throat or mouth, or a runny nose. Other people may experience severe sinus congestion. The sinuses are air-filled cavities found in the bones of the head and face. There are 4 pairs of sinuses (8 in all), located on either side of the nose in your cheeks, behind and between the eyes, in the forehead, and at the back of the nasal cavity.

Sinus congestion can be caused by excessive amounts of mucus clogging up your sinuses, or if the mucus is thick and sticky. It can also happen if the lining of your sinuses becomes irritated by allergens. This causes swelling, which narrows down the passages, and make it harder for mucus to get out.

When this happens, mucus gets trapped in your sinuses. Similar to standing water, trapped mucus makes an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and fungi to grow. This can cause sinusitis. Acute sinusitis happens if you've had a cold and you have symptoms for more than 2 weeks. Chronic sinusitis will be diagnosed if you're having symptoms that last more than 3 months.

Symptoms of both may include:

  • fever
  • persistent nasal congestion, and discharge that is often yellow or green
  • daytime cough due to post-nasal drip (may be worse at night or when you lie down)
  • puffy eyes or tenderness around them
  • headache or pain in the face or behind your eyes

What can you do if you have allergy-induced chronic sinusitis? To find out

Your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics, sometimes for several months. If those don't work (and they won't if you continue being exposed to the allergen that's causing your nasal congestion), your doctor may then suggest you get a CT scan so they can take a look at your sinuses. You may have a physical problem, such as nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths inside your nose), or a deviated septum causing mucus to get blocked. Your doctor may even recommend sinus surgery to remove all the mucus and widen your sinuses.

Many people who have allergies and have had this surgery, complain that their symptoms just come back. Well duh - you've got to get rid of what's causing the symptoms in the first place.

Fit's Tips: Talk to an allergist, get tested, and find out exactly what you are allergic to. Sometimes, those tests don't tell you much, so in that case, you can also try taking allergy pills like Zyrtec or Singulair, or nasal sprays like Flonase to alleviate your nasal congestion. Or use a neti pot to flush the allergens out of your nose. If your nose isn't stuffy, it can't clog your sinuses, right? That means you can say goodbye to chronic sinusitis.


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