While we may not think much of the common cold and simply just regard it as a minor seasonal annoyance, they can turn into something much worse. Every year, almost 31 million people experience some sort of a sinus infection. A sinus infection is caused by blockage in the cavities around the nose, which causes the sinus to fill with fluid and allows germs (bacteria, viruses and fungi) to grow, causing infection and inflammation.
In total, sinus infections are responsible for 73 million days of restricted activity collectively in the United States alone. One of the main reasons why this problem keeps on growing is because of its striking similarity with the common cold, causing most sufferers to shrug symptoms off and not seek treatment. By the time many realize they may have a sinus infection, it’s too late.
While the common cold is not directly responsible for a sinus infection, it can however be the breeding ground for what can develop into an infection. Since the symptoms are quite similar, it takes most people a week or two to finally realize that what they have is not the common cold but a sinus infection, which will not simply go away with over the counter medicine.
Here are a couple reminders next time you feel under the weather.
Know the Symptoms
If it’s the common cold, you’ll experience symptoms such as: a runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, fatigue and postnasal drip. But if you’re suffering from a sinus infection, then you’ll experience the following symptoms: thick yellow or green mucus coming from your nose, pressure or pain around the eyes or face, headache (across the forehead), congestion, post-nasal drip, a cold that won’t go away along with a cough and fever.
If you think you have a sinus infection, the very first thing that you need to do is consult with your doctor as soon as possible, as in some cases an acute infection can become chronic if it is not treated in time. Most of the time, these infections will go away on their own in 10 days or less, but to speed the process you can get a simple a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Take Your Medicine
You can try sinus irrigation, decongestants and over the counter mucus thinners to ease your misery. If your infection does not go away after a course of antibiotics and the symptoms still persist, you should rush to your nearest ear, nose and throat specialist and get a proper diagnosis and medication.