Do you have persistent allergies? What about chronic sinusitis? These two conditions have similar symptoms. You’d probably take an OTC antihistamine to relieve your discomfort.
Antihistamines treat allergies. In some cases, it works for chronic sinusitis, where allergy is the cause. An example of a first-generation antihistamine is diphenhydramine. It’s a widely used and effective drug for allergies.
For more information about relief from allergy and chronic sinusitis, call the Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ – 505-445-4300
Let’s differentiate allergies from chronic sinusitis and get to the bottom of how we could help you:
What is an allergy?
An allergy happens when your body reacts to foreign elements. It includes dust, smoke, pollen, dander, and certain foods. Your immune system produces antibodies when your body encounters any of these foreign elements or allergens. Your body thinks it’s harmful when it’s not. Your immune system reacts from an allergen as you experience inflammation as a symptom.
What causes allergies?
Causes of allergy in adults may be food, medicines, latex, insect stings, or hay fever.
- One of the most common among adults is food allergies. It accounts for at least 1 in 10 US adults. Researchers conducted a 2019 joint study partly funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. It reveals the following:
- At least 26 million people have food allergies.
- The five most common food allergies include shellfish, milk, peanut, tree nut, and fish.
- Among adults with food allergies, 45.3% are allergic to other foods.
- Among adults with food allergies, 51.1% experienced severe reactions.
- Hay fever: Around 19.2 million adults have hay fever, which is more prevalent in women than men.
- Medicine: Antibiotics, aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are the most common triggers for an adverse reaction.
- Latex: In the general population, around 4.3% have a latex allergy. Healthcare workers are the most affected group with a prevalence rate of 9.7%, while 12.4% are sensitive to it.
What are the symptoms of allergy?
What are the diagnosis and management for allergies?
You will undergo an assessment to know whether you have an allergy or not. A medical practitioner performs a physical exam and notes your signs, symptoms, and possible triggers. You may have to undergo skin and blood tests.
A medical practitioner introduces a small amount of protein from an allergen to a pinprick in a skin test. If you have a raised bump at the prick site, it means you’re allergic. A blood test determines the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your blood or immunoglobulin E. Your healthcare provider will send your blood test to a laboratory to assess for possible allergens.
The results of your tests help you detect the foods you need to avoid. Identifying your triggers play an essential role in preventing another allergic reaction. But if you get another attack of allergies, management may include:
- Medications may help ease your allergic symptoms. A healthcare provider may prescribe OTC drugs, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids to you. Antihistamines work by blocking histamine, a chemical released by your immune system when exposed to an allergen. Decongestants relieve congestion due to mucus build-up in nasal passages and reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids relieve allergic symptoms by reducing inflammation. Antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids come in various forms such as pills, liquids, nasal sprays, and eye drops.
- Allergen Immunotherapy is the gradual exposure of allergen over time. It allows your body to get used to the element you are allergic to, such as pollen, dust mites, and molds. It’s most beneficial when other interventions didn’t work to improve your condition. It comes as a series of injections.
Another form is sublingual immunotherapy, where you place the tablet containing the allergen under your tongue. It reduces allergic symptoms. Healthcare practitioners give Biological medications like allergen immunology through injection. It works by targeting specific substances or reactions in your immune system to stop inflammation.
Emergency epinephrine injections, used during a life-threatening allergic reaction, prevent anaphylaxis. It reduces swelling in the airways caused by inflammation. It also increases blood flow in the veins.
What is sinusitis?
Sinuses are hollow spaces inside the skull around your nose. Sinusitis is a condition when your sinuses become swollen or inflamed. As it happens, it blocks off drainage as mucus builds up. It can be acute or short-lived. Colds, bacteria, and allergies, such as hay fever, cause acute sinusitis. It can also be chronic or persistent if it lasts for three months despite interventions.
What causes chronic sinusitis?
- Allergic rhinitis: It can be due to dust mites and molds or environmental exposures such as smoke from cigarettes and other airborne irritants/toxins.
- Respiratory tract infections (RTI): RTIs can be bacterial, fungal, or viral. The most common RTI is colds, which can inflame the sinuses and block drainage.
- Deviated nasal septum: The septum, a wall between the nostrils, is uneven or crooked. It may block sinus passages.
- Nasal polyps: Nasal polyps are abnormal tissue growths that can block sinuses and nasal passages.
- Other medical conditions associated with sinusitis:
- Asthma is a narrowing of the airways and may build up mucus, resulting in difficulty of breathing.
- Cystic fibrosis is an inherited and progressive disease that damages the lungs and reduces its ability to take in air. It affects the digestive system and other organs as well.
- Gastroesophageal disease (GERD) happens when stomach acid, food, or fluids flow back to the tube that connects your mouth and stomach.
- Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV infection attacks cells and weakens the body’s immune system that fights off disease.
What are the symptoms of chronic sinusitis?
There are three cardinal symptoms of sinusitis:
- Greenish or yellowish mucus from the nose
- A feeling of fullness or dental/facial pain
- Airway blockage which causes difficulty of breathing
- Bad breath
- Decreased sense of smell or taste
- Dental pain
- Ear pain
- For chronic sinusitis associated with allergic rhinitis: blocked or runny nose, itchiness, and sneezing
What are the diagnosis and management for chronic sinusitis?
There are four ways to diagnose whether you have chronic sinusitis or not. First, a medical practitioner uses a tube with a fiber-optic light. This instrument is inserted into your nose to see the areas of your sinuses.
Second, a medical practitioner may get nasal or sinus mucus samples from you. If your condition persists or worsens with interventions, your medical practitioner may request cultures. This procedure may determine the cause of your chronic sinusitis, such as the presence of bacteria or fungi.
Third, you may have to undergo imaging tests. CT and MRI scans show nasal areas and sinuses where there’s inflammation or obstruction. Fourth, an allergy may cause your chronic sinusitis. An allergy test helps identify the allergen or the source of your allergy, which you should avoid.
Medical Practitioners may prescribe Medications/management for your condition:
- If you have a bacterial infection, your healthcare practitioner may prescribe antibiotics for up to three weeks.
- Your medical practitioner may give you antihistamines if you have an allergy. Immunotherapy or allergy shots provided by your medical practitioner help reduce your body’s reaction to an allergen.
- Decongestants relieve your symptoms, such as mucus blockage.
- Nasal saline irrigation can serve as an adjunct to nasal steroids. It is effective at high volume compared to nasal spray.
- Medical Practitioners use nasal steroids such as nasal sprays for up to 12 weeks. You can use it with or without nasal saline irrigation to prevent and treat inflammation.
- Oral steroids or injected corticosteroids treat severe symptoms. It helps relieve your inflammation.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is an intervention option as a last resort when your condition has become resistant to medication. A polyp can be removed or shaved to widen your sinus opening.
The Bottom Line
Allergies can be associated with chronic sinusitis. It happens when chronic sinusitis exists along with allergic rhinitis. These conditions have various interventions.
However, a severe sudden attack of allergy can happen. There’s a narrowing of the airways, which leads to the difficulty of breathing. At this point, you can’t take medication by mouth. Diphenhydramine can be given by mouth, on the skin, and by injection for faster results. Like any other drug, diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) has side effects or adverse reactions.
For more information about Benadryl injections for allergies and chronic sinusitis, call us at the Injection and Infusion Clinic of ABQ – 505-445-4300