Differences between sinusitis and Allergies

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Does your child have allergies or a sinus condition? How can you tell the difference?

Late summer and early fall are common times to experience seasonal allergies. Serious sinus conditions can occur at any time of the year and it is important to know the difference.

Allergies occur when the body releases histamine and other molecules in response to an "invasion" by substances such as pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds.  Symptoms include congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itchy throat. The symptoms usually subside when your child is no longer exposed to the allergen. 

Serious sinus conditions - sinus infections, acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis - may share some of the same symptoms as allergies but persist over a longer period of time and are often accompanied by fever, sore throat, muscle aches and colored mucous. Your child may feel pressure and swelling of the nose and eyes and experience an aching jaw. Other symptoms include ear pain, bad breath and fatigue.

Pediatric allergist Chrishana Ogilvie-McDaniel, MD recommends prompt management of allergy and sinus conditions since these conditions can greatly impact a child's quality of life.  According to Ogilvie-McDaniel, "The associated symptoms can interfere with a child's school performance as well as their ability to enjoy normal outdoor activities."

Discuss your child's symptoms with your doctor.  While common seasonal allergy symptoms may be alleviated with the help of over-the-counter medications, more serious sinus conditions or seasonal allergies may require the help of a physician to treat and cure.

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