Ever get a sinus infection following a bad cold?
It’s called sinusitis. After a cold, you are at greater risk of developing a sinus infection because a cold causes inflammation and swelling of the sinuses.
While sinusitis and cold symptoms can make you miserable, they are common problems and affect millions of Americans each day. Here’s up-to-date information about sinusitis and colds.
What Is a Common Cold?
The common cold, an upper respiratory infection, is usually caused by a virus that infects the nose and throat.
Common cold symptoms include nasal congestion; runny nose; post-nasal drip, which is a drop-by-drop release of nasal fluid into the back of the throat; headache; and fatigue. Cough and mild fever may also accompany these symptoms.
Cold symptoms usually build, peak, and slowly disappear. No treatment is necessary for a cold, but some medications can ease symptoms.
For example, decongestants may decrease drainage and open the nasal passages. Pain relievers may help with fever and headache. Cough medication may help as well. Colds will typically last from a few days to about a week or longer.
In some instances, a cold may cause swelling in the sinuses, preventing the outflow of mucus. This can lead to a sinus infection.
If you live in the Houston Texas area and have sinus pain — pain around the face and eyes — and thick yellow or green mucus that persist after a week, then you should contact Sinus Specialist ENTs Dr. Yeung and Dr. Hershey at Houston Sinus Surgery to determine if you have a sinus infection.
What Is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection is inflammation or swelling of your sinuses. Normally, your sinuses are filled with air. When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, bacteria can grow there and cause infection. This infection is sinusitis.
What Are Sinus Infection Symptoms?
Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Thick, yellow, foul-smelling nasal discharge
- Pressure or pain around the face and eyes
- Headache (generally in the forehead area)
- Nasal obstruction
- Post-nasal drip
- A cold that won’t go away or gets worse
- Fever or cough
Keep in mind that these symptoms can also be seen with a cold. But if they continue for more than 10 days, you may have sinusitis.
What Causes a Sinus Infection?
Any condition that blocks off the sinus drainage channels can cause a sinus infection. Such conditions include colds, allergies such as hay fever, non-allergic rhinitis, and nasal polyps, which are small growths in the lining of your nose.
A sinus infection may occur after a cold or may result from anatomic problems such as a deviated septum, which refers to a shift in the nasal cavity. If not treated, a sinus infection can last for weeks.
How Is a Sinus Infection Diagnosed and Treated?
A sinus infection is diagnosed after a physical exam and a medical history evaluation. In some instances, X-rays or a CT scan of your sinuses may be necessary, particularly if you don’t respond to initial treatment.
Sinusitis is first treated with medication. Antibiotics are usually used if symptoms persist for more than 10 days. Decongestants and other drugs help decrease the swelling in your sinuses and nasal passages.
Steam and hot showers may be recommended to loosen mucus. Your doctor may also recommend nasal saline to wash mucus from your nose.
In rare instances, when sinusitis becomes chronic or long lasting, long-term antibiotics or surgery may be needed to establish adequate drainage.
When Should I Call a ENT Doctor about a Cold or Sinus Infection?
Most colds go away without medical treatment. If you have pain around your face or eyes along with thick yellow or green nasal discharge for more than a week, seek care from Houston ENT.
Also, call an ENT if you have fever or symptoms that are severe or do not get better with over-the-counter treatments.
Routine sinus conditions can be cared for by your primary care doctor. If, however, you are bothered by persistent abnormal symptoms, recurring infections, or have abnormal X-ray findings or complications, your primary care doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat ENT doctor.
Contact the Houston Sinus Surgery in Houston TX or fill out the form on this page and schedule an appointment today!
Houston Sinus Surgery is conveniently located in the heart of the Houston museum district and just minutes away from the Galleria and Medical Center. Patients come from all over the Houston area including the 77019, 77005, 77006, 77024, 77056,77401 zip codes.