The common cold is pretty miserable. But a sinus infection is worse because it can cause much more damage. How do you tell if you or a loved one has a sinus infection or a cold? When do you need to call us to see one of our doctors in your home or office?
Colds are Common and Don’t Last Long
The signs of a cold are obvious – for 5 to 10 days your body fights off the virus by producing mucus (stuffy/runny nose), coughing (worse at night) and a low-grade fever. Plenty of liquids to thin the mucus and get it out of your system help speed the process along. That mucus will be clear, then get thicker and yellowish or greenish, then go clear again and dry up. Humidity helps. So does getting more rest and taking OTC meds to alleviate specific symptoms.
Even with no medication, the common cold goes away all by itself. But if the mucus doesn’t come out of your sinuses, it can cause complications.
Sinus Infections Keep On Going and Your Face Hurts
Leftover cold gunk is one cause of sinus infection. Other things that can cause this painful condition are allergens, infected teeth, or nasal abnormalities. But the thing to remember is that the sinuses are supposed to be filled with air instead of being swollen and clogged.
When examining you for these symptoms, we’ll ask questions like:
- Is there a fever? How high is it & how long have you had it?
- Is there any discharge? What color is it? How long have you had it?
- Does your face hurt? Does it hurt more when you bend over?
- Does your breath smell even when you brush your teeth well?
- Do you have post-nasal drip?
These questions help clarify what is happening and a physical examination will give insight on how to treat your illness. Treatment is imperative, because an untreated sinus infection will usually get worse. It’s time to call us and get help.
Sometimes an antibiotic will be prescribed – but not always since antibiotics can be limited in their effectiveness. Other treatments may include decongestants to shrink swollen passages and let the body clear out the infection on its own. Moist heat on the face helps some sufferers but others find more relief with cold compresses or alternating heat/cold.
Increasing liquid intake gives the body the ability to thin the mucus. The traditional chicken soup, especially when spicy, will also help get things moving out of your sinuses and out of your life so you can feel better fast. And make sure to get enough rest!