Sinus & Allergy 

Identifying Sinus and Allergy Triggers

Identifying Sinus and Allergy Triggers

Allergies can cause a lot of misery, and are, unfortunately, very common. Allergies result when the body mistakes usually harmless substances – such as mold, pet hair, dust, and pollen – for invading germs, and attacks them.1,2 During the attack, natural chemicals called histamines are produced and released.2

These histamines are what cause the familiar allergy symptoms: nasal passage swelling, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and itchy, watering eyes.2 Many people also experience sinus pain and pressure as a result of allergy attacks. Learning what may be causing your allergy attacks and sinus problems can help you prevent them.

What substances set off allergic reactions?

Allergy and sinus pain triggers can vary widely among different people, but some substances that commonly cause reactions are:

  • Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds2
  • Dust mites (microscopic bugs that live in the dust that can form on stuffed animals, carpeting, mattresses, etc.)2
  • Mold2
  • Insect bites2
  • Cockroaches1
  • Latex2
  • Foods, including milk, wheat, shellfish, strawberries, peanuts, nuts, eggs, lemons/limes, etc.2
  • Drugs, including penicillin, aspirin, etc.2
  • Candles3
  • Perfumes3
  • Soaps and detergents3
  • Cosmetics3

So what can you do about allergies?

When possible, identifying and avoiding your personal allergy triggers is obviously the best course. For example, if you know you’re allergic to pollen, try to stay indoors during pollen season, especially on windy days. Instead of carpeting, opt for plain floors with small rugs that can be washed frequently. Wash stuffed animals in hot water, or put them in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few hours to kill dust mites. Use unscented soaps and cosmetics if you think you may be allergic to certain fragrances. Also, check food labels carefully for possible offending ingredients, and ask friends to put out the candles – and the cat.

However, it’s not always possible to avoid allergy and sinus triggers. If you do experience an allergy attack, with or without sinus pain, over-the-counter anti-histamine medications and/or pain relievers can help. Your pharmacist can help you find the product that’s right for you. See your doctor if your symptoms are severe or keep you from activities you love.


  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Tips to remember: indoor allergens. Available at: Accessed August 2010.
  2. US National Institutes for Health. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Airborne Allergens. Something in the Air. April 2003.
  3. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergy and Asthma Issues. Winter 2009. Available at: Accessed August 2010.