Tag Archives: sinus infection

6 Signs You May Have More Than ‘Just a Cold’

We all know a cold is no more serious than a miserable week of snots and sneezes courtesy of a viral bug. So, there’s no need to go to the doctor over a cold, right? Well, that depends. If it really is just a cold, you should be fine with plenty of R&R, some over-the-counter helpers and hot liquids, but what if there is something more serious at the heart of your symptoms? Several conditions that may require prescriptions can mimic cold symptoms, such as a sinus infection, bronchitis (which can be bacterial), pneumonia or the flu. Let’s take a look at some indicators that it may be time to see a doctor about your ‘cold’:

  1. Your sniffles just won’t let up – if your congestion has extended beyond 10 days and is accompanied by a severe headache, you may have a sinus or respiratory tract infection. Sinus infections that appear to be bacterial by nature require antibiotics. If the doctor suspects it is viral, he or she may wish to prescribe inhaled corticosteroids to help ease swelling or irritation of your sinuses.
  2. You have moderate joint or neck pain – Muscle and joint pain is more commonly associated with influenza than the cold. Influenza is more serious than the common cold and can even be life-threatening. Severe neck pain accompanied with cold-like symptoms could indicate another serious illness as well: bacterial meningitis. So, if you are experiencing unusual pain along with the cold, don’t mess around!
  3. You’ve had a dry or productive cough for weeks – A simple cold shouldn’t cause a cough any longer than a week or so. If you’ve been coughing or bringing up mucus for weeks, you could have bronchitis (which sometimes requires corticosteroids), influenza or even walking pneumonia. It is important to get a nagging cough checked out.
  4. Your mild fever has gotten worse – Sometimes a cold may cause a fever, but usually it is very mild and resolves quickly. If your mild fever has turned into a more serious one (103 or higher for adults), or it has been hanging around for more than 3 days, you should check in with the doc. A rising fever could indicate a flu, pneumonia, or an infection elsewhere in the body.
  5. You have stomach symptoms – Some people believe stomach upset can go along with the common cold, but a cold usually only involves the head and throat. If you’ve been having diarrhea or have been vomiting for several days, you should seek medical attention as you may have food poisoning, a type of influenza, or another underlying medical condition.
  6. Your symptoms are hanging on longer than 10 days – The bottom line is that cold symptoms should clear up in a week to 10 days, so if you’re still plagued by a sore throat, congestion or a cough any longer than a couple weeks, you should be medically assessed.

Since it is so easy for a ‘harmless cold’ to turn into something more serious, it’s a good thing that the doctor is only a video call away and always in! Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll come back again soon.



Sinusitis: Is Your Nasal Nuisance Here to Stay?

Man Blows Nose

Acute sinusitis (more commonly known as a sinus infection) occurs when the sinus cavities fill with fluid instead of air, encouraging germs to breed which leads to an upper respiratory infection. Sinusitis can be a chronic condition, or an isolated viral episode. Acute sinus infections can be bacterial by nature, but are more often caused by a virus which invades the nasal passages. Chronic sinusitis is often caused by allergens. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acute and chronic forms of sinusitis are responsible for over 12 million doctor’s visits annually.

When Are Sinus Infections More Common?

While sinusitis is quite common in the summer and spring because of hay fever triggers, there are many allergenic triggers lying around the house in the winter months as well such as dust from forced air heating, pet dander that builds up because the windows can’t be opened and mold that can come in on Christmas trees or can grow around the house in cold, damp, unventilated areas. Winter is also a bad season for acute sinus infections because colds and viruses can cause infections, which are often rampant during the winter months.

A Real Pain

Anyone who’s been plagued with sinusitis knows how uncomfortable the condition can be. Common symptoms of sinus infections include:

  • Pain caused by inflammation of the sinus cavities
  • Severe headache, especially around or behind an eye (where certain sinus cavities are located)
  • Congestion or coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Toothache or earache
  • Excess mucus or thick yellow or green discharge
  • Post nasal drip (mucus dripping back down the throat causing irritation, coughing and other unpleasant symptoms)

(Many of these symptoms also apply to chronic sinusitis, often recurring frequently.)

Tips to Keep Sinusitis at Bay During the Winter

According to Sinus-Pro, there are certain things you can do to help decrease your chances of a sinusitis infection or flare up. Some of these provisions include:

  1. Take precautions against catching a cold which can lead to a sinus infection
  2. Buy small dehumidifiers for damp areas of your house such as a basement
  3. Take up carpet, and cover beds and pillows with hypoallergenic materials
  4. Keep pets out of bedrooms or other rooms you spend a lot of time in
  5. Eat and drink triggering food and drink such as alcohol in moderation
  6. Flush out extra mucus to prevent a buildup in your nasal passages and sinus cavities (you can do this by using nasal sprays, Nettie pots or by inhaling strong peppermint steam)
  7. If you have chronic sinusitis or allergic rhinitis, take your prescribed nasal sprays or decongestant medications

When to See a Doctor

In the past there have been problems with doctors overprescribing antibiotics to patients with viral sinus infections who didn’t need them, resulting in some people becoming antibiotic resistant, most doctors are more careful and cognizant about this issue now. Just because you have a viral sinus infection doesn’t mean there is nothing that can help you, your doctor may prescribe stronger decongestants, temporary nasal sprays or in extreme cases (or for those with severe asthma) corticosteroids may be necessary to help the patient overcome the infection. It is also important to visit a doctor if you have recurrent sinus infections, as they may refer you to an allergist or ENT specialist to get to the root of your condition and start you on the medication plan, or determine if surgical measures should be taken. So consult your PCP, or one of our esteemed DocChat physicians today to get some advice on your sinus situation!