Sinus Problems Caused by Food Allergies

A common symptom of food allergies is sinus problems. The sinuses are cavities in your head, located directly behind your nose and eyes that help to filter unwanted particles from the air you breathe in. They are made of sensitive soft tissue and lined with mucus membranes that keep the tissue soft and moist. During a food allergy, the sinuses become inflamed because of increased levels of histamine in the body 12. Chronic sinus problems can lead to sinus infections and further complications. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are primarily caused by eight foods: milk, soy, wheat, eggs, fish, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish, according to MedinePlus.cause:

  • Food allergies are primarily caused by eight foods: milk
  • soy
  • wheat
  • eggs
  • fish
  • tree nuts
  • peanuts
  • shellfish
  • according to MedinePlus

If you’re allergic to a certain food, your immune system mistakes the proteins in the food as a dangerous substance. Your body fails to recognize that the proteins are safe and beings to defend itself with different chemicals. Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies are created to fight off the proteins, which triggers mast cells to produce histamine. Histamine in the sinus cavity leads to inflammation, swelling and congestion.

Sinus Problems

Sinus problems from food allergies cause various sinus symptoms, such as:

  • sneezing
  • nasal congestion
  • sinus pressure
  • sinus headaches
  • postnasal drip
  • a runny nose

When the sinus cavity becomes swollen, it blocks your normal ability to breathe and drain mucus from your nostrils. This causes mucus to become trapped in the sinuses, placing pressure on the surrounding areas. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that sinus congestion can cause pain in the teeth, forehead, cheeks, inner ear and behind the eyes 3.


The most effective way to prevent sinus issues from food allergies to get tested to determine what foods are causing the adverse reactions. Your doctor may use blood tests or skin-prick tests to determine the foods you’re allergic to. The allergist will expose your blood to the proteins found in the most common foods that cause an allergy. If your blood creates IgE antibodies, you are allergic to that food. Once diagnosed, your doctor will recommend avoiding the consumption of all foods that contain that ingredient. This may be more difficult than you realize at first, because many food allergens are found in different products.


If you accidentally eat a food you’re allergic to, treat the sinus symptoms by taking an antihistamine and decongestant. The antihistamine will reduce the amount of histamine in your body and the decongestant will alleviate the inflammation and swelling in the sinus cavity. If you develop severe allergy symptoms, such as your airways closing up, call 911 or visit the emergency room immediately. If you have a known severe allergy, ask your doctor about carrying a epinephrine pen on your person.