Rhinitis vs. Sinusitis

If you have a stuffy nose, you may be living with rhinitis or sinusitis. Since both conditions have similar symptoms, they are difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages. The good news is that the differences between rhinitis and sinusitis typically emerge over time.

Both conditions can cause discomfort and interfere with your overall quality of life. Let's dive deeper into the difference between rhinitis and sinusitis as well as what you should do if you believe you have symptoms of them.


Also known as hay fever, rhinitis is usually triggered by allergens. These may include pollen, pet dander, cat saliva, mold, and dust mites. Rhinitis occurs when the immune system views certain airborne particles as hazardous. It encourages the body to release mediators that lead to an allergic response.

If you have rhinitis, you may experience symptoms like stuffy nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, cough, and postnasal drip. These are likely most apparent right after you come in contact with an allergen.

Fortunately, medications like nasal spray and antihistamine can often control this condition. In some cases, however, immunotherapy or allergy shots may be necessary.


When the tissue lining your sinuses (air spaces in your skull and facial bones) become inflamed or swollen due to infection, you may face sinusitis. The most common symptoms of sinusitis include stuffy nose, cough, fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat, and foul smelling breath.

There are two types of sinusitis: viral and bacterial. While viral sinusitis typically lasts less than 10 days and resolves with conservative measures like nasal spray and over-the-counter pain medications, bacterial sinusitis persists for longer than 10 days.

Bacterial sinusitis almost always requires antibiotics. If you have sinusitis for less than four weeks, your condition will be considered acute. In the event it goes on more than 12 weeks, it will be chronic.

What to Do If I Believe I Have Rhinitis or Sinusitis

If you experience symptoms that lead you to believe you have rhinitis or sinusitis, visit a rhinologist today. You can trust them to provide you with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan so that you can find the relief you deserve.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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