DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have long suffered from allergies. But there have been times when I haven’t been sure if my symptoms are really from my allergies or may be caused by a sinus infection instead. How can I tell the difference?
ANSWER: Allergies and sinus infections are often mistaken for one another. But they are two separate conditions. By paying close attention to the specific symptoms you have, you can usually identify which one is more likely to be causing the problem.
A sinus infection, also called sinusitis, affects the cavities around your nasal passages. The infection causes your sinuses to become inflamed and swollen. The swelling makes it hard for your sinuses to drain, and mucus builds up. You become congested and have trouble breathing through your nose. Sinusitis often causes thick yellow or green nasal discharge. A sore throat, cough or headache, as well as pressure or tenderness around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead, may also accompany sinusitis.