Itchy eyes interrupt your holiday dinners. Congestion keeps you from writing your cards. You spend more time sneezing than smooching under the mistletoe.
So what’s the deal? In the winter months, colds and sinus infections are common, but they’re not the only culprits. Winter has a specific set of allergies that might be holding you back from holiday fun…and the sooner you figure out what’s plaguing you, the sooner you can work to recuperate.
Here are a few key differences between allergies and sinus infections:
- Fevers. People with allergies usually don’t have one, but fevers are common with sinus infections.
- Nasal discharge. Allergies typically mean a runny nose with clear mucus. For sinus issues, nasal discharge can be yellow or green.
- Coughing and sneezing. An overly simplistic rule of thumb is that allergies tend to affect the neck up, while sinusitis can have some chest-based symptoms. Sneezing is common with both allergies and sinusitis, but for deeper coughs, allergies probably aren’t to blame.
- Pain with movement. Does the pain and pressure in your head feel worse if you lean your head around or down? Might indicate a sinus infection.
Sinus infections tend to linger, so that’s another potential clue. But that doesn’t mean you can rule out allergies if your symptoms stay for a few weeks. Seasonal allergies affect some people all throughout the winter season.
- Holiday decorations. Whether it’s that fresh pine tree, a eucalyptus-scented wreath or just the dust that scatters from a box of ornaments, take note if you start sniffling in decorated homes, stores or craft shops.
- Down and wool. Featherbeds, comforters and pillows are common sources of allergens — as are winter coats, sweaters and gloves.
- Indoor dust. Do your symptoms get worse when the furnace kicks on? It could mean that stale, dusty air is triggering your allergies.
- Pet dander. Spending more time indoors might mean you spend more time with Fluffy…and that can make pet allergies you don’t notice in summer wreak havoc in winter.
The best way to be sure if you’re dealing with allergy or sinus problems is to check with a doctor, who then can help you find the right treatment. Not sure what your symptoms mean? Be sure to give us a call.