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When a Cold Becomes a Sinus Infection

Ever get a sinus infection following a cold? It's called sinusitis.

After a cold, one is at a greater risk of developing a sinus infection because a cold causes inflammation and swelling of the sinuses.

What is a common cold?

Bottom Line - a cold is a an upper respiratory infection causes by a virus that infects the nose and throat.

Symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose, post nasal drip, headaches, irritability, and fatigue. One may also experience coughing, dry throat and a mild fever. These symptoms usually build up, peak and then disappear. You don't need medication but over the counter pain relievers, cough medications and decongestants may help ease the symptoms. Colds typically last a few days to about a week.

However, in some cases, a cold may cause the swelling in sinus cavities, preventing the outflow of mucus. This can lead to sinus infections. If you have sinus pain (around face, forehead, eyes) and/or thick yellow/green mucus after a week, see a primary care specialist or an ENT to see if you now have a sinus infection.

What is a sinus infection?

Bottom Line - a sinus infection is inflammation of your sinus cavities. Normally, sinuses are filled with air. When a sinus infection happens, your sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, allowing bacteria to grow and cause infection. This sinus infection is typically known as sinusitis.

Symptoms of a sinus infection include the following if it's continuing for more than a week:

  • Thick, yellow discharge
  • Facial Pressure
  • Headache
  • Nasal Obstruction, congestion, post nasal drip

How can a sinus infection be treated?

A sinus infection will first have to be diagnosed by a physical evaluation and a medical history evaluation by an ENT. It may require a CT to be performed.

Sinus infections are first treated with antibiotics. Steam and hot showers is recommended to loosen the mucus. A nasal saline can also be used. In cases, where sinus infections and/or sinusitis is persistent and/or frequent, there are several treatments available to you. Please refer to our Sinus Treatment Options for more information.

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