The Differences Between Allergic Rhinitis and a Sinus Infection

Dust, pollen, and pet dander can all trigger an allergic reaction causing congestion and swollen nasal passages. It might feel like a sinus infection, but it could be allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis differs from a sinus infection in that only the nasal passages are involved in rhinitis.  Visit one of our Arkansas Allergy and Asthma offices in Little Rock or Conway to determine if an allergy is the underlying cause of nasal congestion in you or your child.

What is Allergic Fungal Sinusitis (AFS)?

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis (AFS) is a sinus fungal infection that can cause a chronic allergic reaction resulting in nasal polyps and mucosal plugging of the sinus. Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the mucosal debris and steroid medications. However, treating the underlying allergic condition causing nasal passage swelling and congestion may prevent development AFS.

The link between child allergies and asthma

Children with allergies affecting the upper respiratory tract (URT) are more likely to experience asthma attacks than children without URT allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 6.1 million children (aged 18 and younger) in the US live with asthma. Besides producing anxiety, an asthma exacerbation can also result in a preventable hospitalization. Research shows that an asthma attack is the most common reason children miss school, and this absenteeism can impede an afflicted child’s progress in their education.

Causes and signs of sinus infections

The Mayo Clinic describes three symptoms of a sinus infection:

  • Nasal obstruction or congestion (causing difficulty breathing through the nose)
  • Drainage of a thick yellowish or greenish discharge from the nose
  • Tenderness, pain, and swelling around the nose

Bacterial sinus infections often follow a severe head cold, or one that lasts more than 14 days.

While symptoms of a sinus infection and allergic rhinitis can seem similar, the cause of each is actually quite different, and this requires that doctors treat them differently. At Arkansas Allergy and Asthma in Little Rock and Conway, obtaining an allergy test to evaluate for allergic rhinitis can help understand the cause of your sinus congestion.

What are the treatment options for allergic rhinitis?

There are many tips for treating this condition. If you or your child want to stay active outdoors during allergy season, then with a prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine, or allergy treatment medicine,  you may continue outdoor activities.

Treatments for people with both asthma and an allergy

A treatment plan is essential for those with both asthma and an allergy. The Mayo Clinic highlights three different treatments for those with both asthma and an allergy. Treatments include:

  • Allergy shots that gradually reduces immune system response to the allergen through injecting minute allergen amount to induce gradual desensitization to allergen
  • Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy, or pharmaceuticals that interfere with IgE in the person’s body to prevent an allergic reaction (reserved for patient’s severe asthma)
  • Leukotriene modifier, or a specific type of medication often in pill form

Choosing a local allergy clinic is the best plan of action especially for the treatment of childhood allergies. This is because treatments may be ongoing and include scheduled periodic appointments during typical K-12 school hours.

You should seek allergic rhinitis treatment in your child as soon as possible if they also have asthma. Choosing Arkansas Allergy and Asthma for your child’s allergic rhinitis treatment means you could prevent an asthma flare and thereby potentially reducing the chance of hospitalizing your child because of their asthma.


Contact Arkansas Allergy and Asthma in Little Rock or Conway to schedule an appointment today!