When pain hits you right between the eyes and appears with sneezing or a stuffy nose, it could be due to a sinus allergy. Your sinuses are air-filled spaces that drain through your nose and throat. Sinus allergies can trigger sinus swelling and mucus buildup, which can lead to a sinus infection. Instead of suffering through your sinus headache, learn about how you can prevent and treat sinus allergy symptoms.
How Will I Know If I Have Sinus Allergies?
You may have sinus allergies if you have the following symptoms on a routine basis:
Itchy, runny or stuffy nose
Pressure behind the forehead and cheeks, which is also known as a sinus headache
You may also have symptoms typical of hay fever and other allergies:
Eye tearing, redness, and irritation
Blue-colored circles under the eyes
Itchy mouth, throat or skin
Raised areas or welts on your skin (hives)
You should see your doctor if you have symptoms of a sinus allergy. Other conditions, such as a cold, can cause similar symptoms, with the exception of itchiness in your mouth and throat and hives. You may have a fever and symptoms lasting longer than 10 to 14 days if you have a sinus infection. Allergy symptoms will most likely go away when you are away from the source that is causing them. Some people confuse a sinus headache with migraine. Migraine is a severe, throbbing headache in one side of head that lasts for several hours. You may also have sensitivity to light and sound.
Diagnosing your symptoms includes a physical exam and answering detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history. Diagnosis may also include a skin prick test, which involves pricking your skin with a tiny drop of allergy causing substances and watching for a reaction. Another type of allergy test checks for substances in your blood that cause allergies.
Who Gets Sinus Allergies?
If your mom or dad has allergies you have a higher risk for a sinus allergy. Other factors that increase your risk include exposure to secondhand smoke or contact with a high level of dust mites or cockroaches, especially as a child.
What Can I Do to Prevent Sinus Allergies?
Substances that cause your sinus allergy symptoms are called allergens. Common allergens include dust, mold, pollen, cockroaches, and animal dander. Avoiding allergens is the best prevention for your symptoms.
Here are some tips to live by:
Have someone else sweep, dust, vacuum, rake leaves, and mow the lawn. For most people this isn’t practical so wear a dust mask if you are doing most of the chores.
Go indoors, shut windows, and use air conditioning when pollen counts are high. This is often in the morning and on warm, dry, windy days.
Wash your hands, change your clothes, and take a shower after exposure to allergens.
Control dust mites by choosing blinds and hardwood floors instead of drapes and carpeting. Frequently wash linens in hot water and vacuum mattresses. Buy “mite-proof” covers for mattresses and pillows.
Maintain a clean, dry house. Keep humidity levels below 55%. This reduces common allergens, such as dust, mold, and dust mites. You can buy a programmable thermostat with humidity control.
Use furnace filters designed for allergy sufferers and change them frequently.
What Are the Best Remedies for Sinus Allergy Relief?
If avoiding allergens doesn’t help your symptoms, your doctor may recommend medications such as:
Decongestants to relieve sinus and nasal congestion
Antihistamines to relieve itching, sneezing, and sinus congestion
Corticosteroids to prevent and reduce nasal congestion and itching
Montelukast (Singulair) a leukotriene modifier, to relieve many allergy symptoms. It is often prescribed for people with asthma and pollen allergies.
Saline nasal sprays to rinse out allergens and break up sinus congestion
If you have severe or hard to manage symptoms, allergy injections are a potential treatment. This type of treatment, called allergy immunotherapy, can significantly reduce your symptoms and possibly eliminate your need for allergy medications.