Can Allergies Cause Sinus Pressure?

Photo of woman sneezing into a tissue outdoorsIt’s common to mistake sinus pressure from allergies as a bacterial sinus infection that requires antibiotics. While it is possible to develop a bacterial sinus infection because of inflammation caused by allergies, in most cases the uncomfortable sinus pressure will pass once you treat your allergy symptoms.

What Are Allergies?

An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system overacts to a harmless substance called an allergen. Exposure to allergens causes the immune system to release histamines, which are what trigger your allergy symptoms, such as:

  • Runny/stuffy nose.
  • Itchy throat and nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy, watery eyes.
  • Sinus pressure.

How Do Allergies Cause Sinus Pressure?

Your sinuses are hollow cavities lined with a thin layer of mucus that have the important job of filtering and moistening the air you breathe, as well as trapping dust and germs. There are four major sinus cavities:

  • Frontal, located in your forehead.
  • Ethmoid, located behind your nose and between your eyes.
  • Maxillary, located behind your cheekbones, between the bottoms of your eyes and the top of your upper jaw.
  • Sphenoid, located deep in your head behind your nose.

When you’re exposed to allergens and the immune system responds, this causes increased mucus production and swelling of the nasal tissues. This swelling blocks mucus from draining, causing it to become trapped. The result is pain and pressure in the sinuses.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, bacteria may have made its way into the sinuses and become trapped, requiring treatment from a doctor:

  • Thick, discolored drainage from the nose.
  • Postnasal drip (mucus draining down the throat).
  • Headache.
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Cough.
  • Toothache.

How to Prevent Sinus and Allergy Symptoms

If you experience allergies, there are ways you can reduce your exposure to allergens and prevent symptoms:

  • Track pollen counts. On sunny or windy days, there will be more pollen in the air. Check your local forecast to see when pollen counts will be highest.
  • Shower and change after spending time outside. You’ll want to remove allergens right away so you don’t spread them through your home.
  • Install a HEPA filter. These high-efficiency particulate air filters can reduce the amount of allergens in your home or office.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an allergy expert, call the PIH Health House Clinic today.

Los Angeles: 213.483.9930
Orange: 714.516.9570


This information is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

Find Our Locations