If your constant sniffling is driving you and everyone around you nuts, it may be time for medical intervention. You may be battling something more than just a cold.
Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, presents symptoms very similar to a cold. However, infected sinuses may cause you discomfort for several weeks, even after your other symptoms go away.
The basics of a cold
When you have a cold, you’ve likely picked up a rhinovirus that causes your nose to run or feel stuffed up. Colds also cause other symptoms like:
- Sore throat
- Persistent cough
You may notice you have some yellow or greenish discharge when you sneeze or when you cough.
Because a cold is from a virus, antibiotics won’t be able to treat it. Typically, you have to treat your symptoms using over-the-counter cold medications and allow the virus to run its course.
Symptoms of a sinus infection
The group of air-filled sacs behind your nose and between your eyes are known as your sinuses. Your sinus membranes produce mucus to trap environmental pollutants and germs that you breathe in.
These membrane walls become inflamed when you have a cold; if bacteria enter your nose, your sinus membranes can also become infected, a condition known as acute sinusitis. As a result of the infection, you develop symptoms like:
- Nasal pressure
- Nasal congestion
- Reduced sense of smell
- Upper jaw discomfort or pain
Additionally, you may have a green mucus discharge persistently draining from your nose. This thick mucus can make it difficult to breathe and swallow.
Recurrent infections in the sinus cavity are also possible, resulting in a condition known as chronic sinusitis.
When infections become chronic
Chronic sinusitis can develop when your immune system starts to attack bacteria normally found in your sinuses. You experience the same symptoms of acute sinusitis, but they tend to linger for several months.
Identifying a cold or sinus infection
The primary way to determine if your symptoms are due to a cold or caused by an infection is the length of time you have them.
Typically, nasal congestion and drainage due to a cold start to resolve within five days. If you have an acute infection, you may continue having nasal trouble for about 10 days before your symptoms improve.
For chronic sinusitis, you may experience a runny or stuffy nose for months at a time.
Treating sinus infections
For acute and chronic sinusitis that develops due to a bacterial infection, your Houston Sinus Surgery providers can prescribe a course of antibiotics to clear the infection. If your symptoms are due to a viral infection, you must let the infection run its course and treat the symptoms to increase your comfort.
Other remedies to relieve symptoms of a sinus infection include use of over-the-counter nasal sprays to clear congestion. You can also benefit from use of nasal saline rinses to keep your nasal cavity moisturized and clear out debris.
If you have sinus pressure during an active infection, over-the-counter pain relievers and sinus medications can alleviate discomfort and pain. To help you stay energized and in good health, continue to eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
If chronic infections are interfering with your health and quality of life, schedule a consultation at Houston Sinus Surgery today using the online booking feature or by calling the office.