Ever wonder what the most common questions our providers receive at our clinic? You may have one of these questions and have been looking for an answer. Read further to get the answer to your burning questions!


1.  How can I distinguish allergy symptoms from a sinus infection?

It is challenging for a patient to distinguish between an allergy exacerbation and a sinus infection because the symptoms are similar (such as sinus headache, congestion, drainage, and more). The color of the drainage (green/yellow), the lack of improvement with antihistamines, and alterations in taste and smell can sometimes be indicative of a sinus infection however this is not always the case.

The best way to confirm if you are having a sinus infection is with a low-radiation CT scan of your sinuses and a physical exam (often with nasal endoscopy) in the clinic. At Sinus and Snoring Specialists, we are able to use these diagnostic tools and *professional assessments* to determine if you are just experiencing a bad allergy exacerbation or a sinus infection. This often saves the patient from another round of unnecessary antibiotics that is hard on the stomach.

If you have doubt in your mind if your symptoms are sinusitis versus allergies, please come see us and we can give you an accurate diagnosis!

2.  Why do I have alternating congestion in my nostrils?

You may notice throughout the day one nostril feels blocked and then it switches to the other a few hours later. This is actually normal. Every person has a nasal cycle where the turbinates (the structures that filter and humidify the air) will swell on one side and then alternate ~2 hours later. However, if you notice your nose is blocked often on both sides this is not normal and should be assessed in the clinic.

3.  I’ve never had a trauma to my nose so how do I have a deviated septum?

Many people don’t realize that a large trauma is not needed to deviate your septum. The septum, which is made of both cartilage and bone, is like the “bumper of a car on your face”. It will crumble easily on impact. You may have been hit in the face with a soccer ball when you were 7 years old and don’t recall that impact. It is possible to obtain a deviated septum even during vaginal birth, although this is uncommon. A deviated septum is not inherited.

4.  Why do I suddenly have sinus problems when I’ve never had issues my whole life?

It may seem odd that you went most of your life without sinusitis or breathing problems, but suddenly you are congested and needing antibiotics frequently for sinusitis. This can happen if you have an undiagnosed structural problem, such as a deviated septum, and over years your nose swells from allergies. The turbinates grow larger and the sinus openings become more swollen. You pick up a sinus infection that becomes trapped in sinuses and you’re never able to clear it completely. A combination of oversized turbinates, a deviated septum, and a chronic sinus infection leads to nasal congestion, drainage, sinus headaches, and more. This is a common progression for many of our patients which is why a low-radiation CT scan of the sinuses and physical exam with nasal endoscopy is so helpful to determine the underlying causes for your ongoing nasal congestion.

5.  I’m sick of taking antibiotics! Is there a way to get rid of my chronic sinusitis?

Yes! If you’ve been taking antibiotics and steroids for years for sinusitis, you are likely never fully clearing out your sinus infection and are living with baseline chronic sinusitis. You may be a great candidate for balloon sinuplasty, a simple office procedure under twilight sedation where your sinus openings are dilated to a normal size to allow the infection to drain. You can read more about balloon sinuplasty on our website or come in for a consultation.


If you have more questions and/or want an evaluation for your sinus problems, request an appointment today at 512.601.0303.

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Posted in: Sinus and Nasal

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