Signs Your Cold Has Turned into a Sinus Infection
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 10th, 2016 and is filed under Blog by AENT Associates
Although your sinuses are intended to be air-filled cavities that help collect bacteria and irritants to keep them from getting inside your body, your sinuses can quickly become sources of pain and discomfort when you have a sinus infection. At Allergy & ENT Associates, our medical professionals help treat sinus infections.
In many instances, a sinus infection starts as a cold and progresses. It’s important to know when your cold may have progressed to a sinus infection because these infections may necessitate taking antibiotics for symptoms to go away.
Characteristics of Colds and Sinus Infections
Colds are most commonly caused by viruses. Unfortunately, viruses don’t have a cure-all treatment like bacterial infections do with antibiotics. Viruses must usually run their course for a person to get better. Symptoms associated with a cold include:
- Clear mucus
- Facial pain
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
Usually, cold symptoms will last anywhere from three to seven days. This is where the distinctions can often be made between a cold and something more serious, like a sinus infection. For example, a person with a bacterial infection will often experience symptoms for seven days to 14 days. Other signs of a bacterial infection include a fever (low-grade or higher) and mucus that is yellow or green in color. Another sign that your cold has progressed into a sinus infection is extreme irritation in your nasal passages. If you look inside your nose and it looks red, irritated, and/or inflamed, then a sinus infection could be to blame.
Taking antibiotics can reduce the duration of a sinus infection for about five days. An estimated 70 percent of sinus infections resolve with time, so antibiotics aren’t always necessary to treat these infections. Other treatments that are available to relieve sinus infections include:
- Nasal decongestant sprays. However, these shouldn’t be used longer than 10 to 14 days as they can result in adverse symptoms when used for too long.
- Antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin, which help to reduce the incidence of allergic reactions in your body.
- Decongestants, such as Sudafed, to reduce the amount of mucus.
- Using salt water and/or baking soda and water mixtures to clear out the nasal passages. These can help to reduce dryness in the nasal passages that leads to discomfort.
Signs that it’s time to seek expert help are when your symptoms are keeping you from your work, school, and/or daily activities. You should also seek medical help if your symptoms last longer than two weeks. A long-lasting infection can lead to chronic sinusitis (sinus infection that lasts longer than 12 weeks). For this reason, it’s best to seek medical help to keep the condition from becoming prolonged.
For more information on colds, sinus infections, allergies, and more, call our experts at Allergy & ENT Associates at (713) MY-SINUS.