Allergies, Hayfever and Sinusitis

Allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) and allergies affect nearly one in every five Australians¹. Anyone that has experienced it knows it’s more than just a runny nose or itchy eyes – hay fever can mean more frequent sinus infections, reduced quality of sleep, and can make asthma more difficult to control.

If hay fever symptoms last longer than the hay fever season, you may be suffering from perennial allergic rhinitis. This could mean you have an allergy to something other than pollen (certain foods, pets, dust mites, etc.).

How can I tell whether it’s hay fever or sinusitis?

Being hit with a headache and blocked nose at the same time is anything but enjoyable. Although quite common, the cause of these symptoms can vary – most commonly between allergies and a sinus infection.

There are a few clues that may help you determine which of them is the culprit.


In addition to nasal congestion, you may experience a runny (clear discharge), itchy nose and itchy, watery eyes. You’ll probably be sneezing quite a bit, too.

Allergies can be triggered by dust, pollen, mould and more. Treatment for allergy symptoms will depend on what’s actually triggering them, so it’s best to speak with your pharmacist to understand the appropriate treatment methods for you.


On top of congestion, sinusitis can bring with it green or yellow nasal discharge. You may have a weird sensation of fullness in your face, and experience pressure headaches that worsen if you lie down or tilt your head forward. Fever and aching teeth can also be symptoms.

There are a number of causes of sinusitis, with the basis being either a virus or bacterial infection. Allergies, colds and other health issues can lead to sinusitis.

While it may clear up by itself, it could also require medication. If symptoms are persisting longer than around ten days, you should speak with a healthcare professional.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the cavities around your nasal passages. There are two different types of sinusitis:

Your TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist can help

Your TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist will talk through your symptoms to determine whether it’s allergies or sinusitis you’re experiencing and provide expert health advice to help treat your ailment. You can also talk to your pharmacist about products that can provide you with some much-needed relief from symptoms.

Antihistamines reduce or block histamines (the chemical produced when your body comes into contact with your allergy trigger), stopping allergy symptoms including rashes, hives, itchy eyes or skin or a congested nose.

Your local pharmacist can also advise you about eye drops to help relieve itchy, watery eyes; lozenges to soothe an irritated throat; and nasal sprays to reduce congestion. Saline nasal sprays are also excellent at keeping nasal passages clear (a must for anyone prone to sinus infections).

  1. Acute sinusitis. A short-term infection that can last up to three weeks, generally onset due to a viral infection (cold, untreated allergies including hay fever).
  2. Chronic sinusitis. Lasting more than three weeks, this may also be caused by a viral infection. However, it may be a result of a chronic inflammatory disorder such as asthma. Another possible cause can be structural damage. It can last from a few months to years if left untreated.

General advice only – this information should not replace the information provided to you by your health care professional. If symptoms are severe or persist, please speak to your health care professional. Information current as of date of publishing.

Always check with your pharmacist or medical professional before starting any new medications or supplements, particularly if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, are taking any medications currently, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or researching therapies suitable for infants or children.