“Sniffle Season” – understanding hay fever and sinusitis

The winter cold has left us, the sun is out, flowers are blooming; spring has sprung! However, with this very pretty season comes the not-so-pretty sniffling, sneezing, headaches and stuffiness. Some people are lucky enough not to have so much as a nose tickle, while others barely make it through a day without sneezing every 30 minutes. This article aims to help you get through the “sniffle season”.

Firstly, while many people use the terms “Hay fever” and “sinusitis” interchangeably, these two are actually different, with the former being almost a precursor for the latter. 

Hay fever affects the nose alone, hence why its medical term is “allergic rhinitis”. When the very sensitive lining of the nose comes into contact with allergens such as pollen or dust floating in the air,  the lining becomes irritated, swollen with excess mucus production. This leads to that horrible stuffy, blocked nose feeling, which is often accompanied by itchy, watery eyes and a sore throat from mucus draining into the throat aka postnasal drip.

Sinusitis refers to the swelling and irritation of sinuses due to a virus. These sinuses are small air-filled areas located in your skull. In the picture below, you can see the exact location of the sinuses. 

When these are irritated and swollen, the area of the face above the respected sinus tends to be very tender and painful to touch, with mucus tending to be very yellow or green. Sinusitis is also often accompanied by headache, toothache, earache or a reduced sense of smell as well as  itchy eyes and post nasal drip.

Hay fever can be a precursor to sinusitis because if the nasal passage is blocked, mucus from the sinuses cannot drain out, creating an environment for infection.  

With regards to treatment, both hay fever and sinusitis can be treated with antihistamines. Antihistamines tackle the body’s reaction to the allergens; anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling and pain and nasal sprays, which may be normal saline, steroid or antihistamine. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this season or the sniffles that come with it. However, you can be armed and ready to take on all the allergens. If you suspect you might be suffering from hay fever or sinusitis, visit your family doctor who can prescribe a combination of medication best suited for you to keep those allergies at bay.


By YourBotswana writer:
Dr. Noorain Lottering-Kokabi, BMSc, MBBS (UWI MONA)

Born in May 1989, Dr Noorain hails from Gaborone Botswana. She completed her Pre-Med at the University of Botswana and went on to attain her BMSc and MBBS degrees at The University of The West Indies in Kingston Jamaica.

Having practised medicine in both the Caribbean and Botswana, she has been exposed to an array of conditions and ailments that have in turn widened her scope of expertise. She is also involved in multiple philanthropic projects that aim to equip youths with relevant life skills and tools they need throughout their lives.

A young, diligent, enthusiastic professional with a formidable hunger to continuously seek further knowledge, both in alternative and modern medicine, Dr. Noorain aims to better the healthcare in the communities she serves.

She currently works in community health providing first line care for the community as a whole. Her current position has enabled her to manage both common and complex cases. These cases range from the common cold/flu, bites to mental health, uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis and HIV (along with the associated complications). Having worked in the Caribbean, Dr. Noorain is very familiar with the treatment of tropical diseases and severe symptoms that may arise from such diseases.

Dr. Noorain provides quality outpatient care ensuring that her patients are fully educated on their respective illness. After all a patient that is well educated on their illness is more likely to comply with medical protocols and prevention strategies, hence reducing potential mortality and morbidity statistics, which reflects a healthy and happier Botswana.

Dr Noorain is a young, career driven, passionate, culturally and medically diverse professional. She is excited about her collaboration with YourBotswana, hoping to use the platform to educate citizens and visitors alike on current health issues in Botswana.

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