Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
- facial pain
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
Head Cold Vs Sinus Infection
If fluid builds up in the sinuses, hollow spaces around the nose, bacteria can grow there, causing a sinus infection.
Like head colds, viruses
As a head cold happens because of a viral infection, antibiotics are ineffective. Instead, treatment aims to manage the symptoms and reduce discomfort.
Some common home remedies for a head cold include:
following steps may help reduce the risk of contracting a cold virus. They may be especially important for immunocompromised people:
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.
You Might Also Enjoy…
You May Like: Can I Take 2 Advil Cold And Sinus
How Colds And Sinusitis Develop
The common cold is a viral infection that spreads from person to person through contact with infected objects or in the air. After touching something infected with the virus and then touching your mouth or nose, the virus enters your body.
You may also be more likely to develop a cold if youre around someone with a virus whos coughing and sneezing.
While the common cold is linked to a viral infection, sinusitis may relate to a bacterial infection or allergies. When you make contact with a bacteria, virus, or allergy trigger, the membranes in your sinuses become inflamed, blocking the opening of your sinus cavity and making it difficult to breathe.
Your body also produces more mucus to fight the infection, further limiting your ability to take in air through your nose. This excess mucus can build up inside your sinus cavity and increase your risk for an infection.
Tips To Help You Get Relief From Your Head Cold
Oh, your aching head! If youâre suffering from unbearable nasal congestion and headache, you probably have a head cold. The reason youâre so stuffed up? When you have a head cold, the membranes lining your nasal passages become swollen and produce excess mucus to flush out whatever is causing the irritation, whether itâs a virus or an allergen. You might experience pain in your forehead, under your eyes or in your upper teeth.
The key to getting rid of a head cold is to reduce sinus swelling and help mucus drain from your sinuses. Although it might seem counterintuitive, keeping your nasal passages moist is the best way to clear out congestionâdry sinuses will only result in further irritation.
Try these simple tips to clear up a head cold and help relieve headache and sinus pressure.
Since breathing in dry air will dry out your sinuses, itâs best to add moisture back into your environment by using a cool-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer. You can also try breathing in steam from a hot shower. Doing so can help soothe the irritated membranes lining your nasal passages.
A great way to ease a headache and sinus pressure is to place a warm compress on your forehead and nose. If you donât have a compress, try moistening a washcloth with warm water and applying it to your face several times a day. This will help relieve nasal congestion and relieve your head cold symptoms.
Recommended Reading: If Sinus Infection Is Left Untreated
How A Sinus Infection Happens
Colds can progress to become sinus infections, but not all sinus infections are viral. Bacteria and even allergies also can cause sinus infections.
A sinus infection occurs when the sinus lining becomes inflamed, preventing the sinuses from draining, he says. The trapped mucous becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a sinus infection.
Conditions that may make you more likely to get a sinus infection include:
- Nasal polyps .
- Immunodeficiencies .
What Can I Do About Recurring Sinus Headaches
Many sinus headaches, especially those that recur, are actually migraines. But its smart to see your healthcare provider to figure out the cause of your headaches.
You may find that the best long-term solution is figuring out what triggers your migraine headaches so you can avoid them. Its helpful to keep a headache diary to track potential triggers. Triggers you can control include:
- Specific foods, such as chocolate, red wine or strong cheese.
- Lack of sleep.
Don’t Miss: Severe Sinus And Cold Relief
What Causes Head Congestion
Your head feels congested when mucus builds up, causing blood vessels in your nose to become inflamed and resulting in swollen tissues and head pressure. The cause for this extra mucus varies, but below are some common reasons you might be feeling stuffy.
A Common Cold
With more than 1 billion colds in the United States each year, its likely your head congestion is caused by the common cold. When you catch a cold, a virus infects your nose and throat, resulting in head cold symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and headaches.
This virus causes your nose to make thick, clear mucus, which helps wash away the germs from your nose and sinuses. This mucus also causes the nasal swelling that feels like head pressure.
When your nose swells, it can eventually interfere with your sinuses ability to drain, causing more mucus buildup. As a result, pressure builds and leads to pain in your forehead, between or behind your eyes and even your teeth.
If youre experiencing head congestion, you probably want to know: How long does a head cold last? Most signs of a cold go away after seven to 10 days.
Similarly, the influenza virus leads to head congestion by infecting your nose, throat and lungs, and causing nasal swelling. People often confuse a cold with the flu because their symptoms are similar. However, flu symptoms often come on quicker and are more severe, resulting in a fever, body aches, chills and more.
A Sinus Infection
Colorful Fruits And Vegetables
Certain compounds in brightly colored fruits and vegetables â like carotenoids and flavonoids â may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help your body function at its best and may even defend against infection, according to May 2013 research in âAdvances in Nutritionâ.
Per Harvard Health Publishing, these anti-inflammatory foods include:
Recommended Reading: Tylenol Cold And Sinus Liquid
How To Tell The Difference Between Sinus Congestion And Head Congestion
The main difference between sinus congestion and head congestion is the duration of symptoms. Sinus congestion may cause a sinus infection, which comes with symptoms lasting up to four weeks. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have a sinus infection. Head congestion as part of a cold is usually gone in seven to 10 days.
Is It A Sinus Infection A Cold Or Allergies
Your nose is stuffed and your head is pounding. Here’s how to tell if a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection is to blame.
A stuffy nose and headache are common symptoms of many illnesses. So how can you tell whether the culprit is a sinus infection, a common cold, or allergies when the symptoms of these three conditions are so similar?
“It can sometimes be difficult even for doctors to differentiate,” says Alan B. Goldsobel, MD, an allergist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California and an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California. But there are some key differences that can give you some clues. Get to know more about the symptoms of these three conditions to help you pinpoint the cause of your sinus congestion:
A Sinus Infection
- What it feels like: You can expect a stuffy nose, but also some runny, discolored mucus, Goldsobel explains. You may also experience a sore throat, cough, sneezing, headache, or fatigue. Another sign is a rising temperature: Colds often trigger a fever, he says, but sometimes those fevers are so mild that people think they have allergies instead.
- What triggers it: A virus.
- How long it lasts: People usually fend off the cold virus within seven to 10 days, Baroody says. But if your symptoms have lingered past that window of time, you might have sinusitis. If you suspect you have a sinus infection, you should talk to your doctor.
An Allergic Reaction
Don’t Miss: Best Medicine For Sinus Pressure And Congestion
Is It A Cold Or A Sinus Infection
- A common cold may typically run its course within 10 days, but sinus infections may last longer than 10 days.
- Another key distinction between cold and sinus can be noted through nasal discharge. Common colds usually produce clear mucus, while a sinus infection may yield green or yellow mucus.
- Common colds and sinus infections may not seem serious, but if left untreated, they can both progress and lead to long-term health complications. If symptoms are severe or last longer than 14 days, immediate medical intervention may be required.
When Good Sinuses Go Bad
What about that cold that won’t go away? A cold virus can:
- damage the delicate cilia so that mucus is not swept away
- make the mucous lining of the nose swollen, which narrows and blocks the small opening from the sinuses into the nose
- lead to more mucus, which is often thicker and stickier, making it harder to flow out of the sinuses
When the tiny openings that drain the sinuses get blocked, mucus gets trapped in them. This makes a good home for bacteria, viruses, or fungi to grow.
If a cold lasts for more than 10 to 14 days , you may have sinusitis . This means an infection of the sinuses. Sinusitis is a pretty common infection in fact, millions of people in the United States have sinusitis each year.
Read Also: Good Nasal Spray For Sinus Infection
What Does A Cold Look Like
When you have a cold, this means your body is fighting off a viral infection in your upper respiratory system. There are over a hundred types of viruses that can cause the common cold, which is also known scientifically as rhinitis. These illnesses are spread either by exchanging contaminated water droplets in the air or by touching surfaces where the virus is lingering.
Most adults get between two to four mild colds per year, but certain factors such as smoking or a weakened immune system can increase your risk. The areas most affected by a cold are typically the nose, mouth, throat and lungs, but full body aches and other discomforts can also be experienced because of the virus. Cold symptoms often appear one to three days after exposure to the virus, and should resolve within 5 7 days.
Symptoms of the common cold often include:
- Runny nose
Sinusitis Can Last A While
Doctors call sinusitis when a cold lasts more than 10 to 14 days. It’s called sinusitis when a person has symptoms for more than 3 months.
In either case, a kid might have:
- a lasting runny nose with discharge that’s yellow or green
- daytime cough
- puffy eyes, especially in the morning
Less often, a kid could have headache or pain behind the eyes, forehead, and cheeks.
How To Differentiate Sinusitis From A Head Cold
A head colds symptoms are felt mostly around the head and in the sinuses. The symptoms include a stuffed/runny nose, sneezing, and a mild headache. In this regard, a head cold is very similar to a sinus infection. So, how are you sure what you think is a cold is not really sinusitis? Find out below:
How Long Do Sinus Headaches Last
Viruses cause most sinus infections. A viral sinus infection typically resolves on its own. Similar to how the common cold clears up by itself, your sinus headache should feel better within about a week. If it doesnt go away, see your healthcare provider. You may have a bacterial or fungal sinus infection that requires medication.
Also Check: Why Does My Sinus Smell Bad
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.
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
- Nasal obstruction
- A cold that wont 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.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Sinus Pressure Migraine
How To Get Rid Of A Head Cold
A head cold is nothing but a common cold in which the symptoms are more focused around the head and in the sinuses.
In the case of a head cold, along with other common cold or flu symptoms like a runny and stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, chills and fever, you will also have a headache.
The reason you get a headache with a head cold is due to the release of molecules called cytokines. These molecules are released in relation to the bodys immune defense against viruses and are known to cause headaches.
On top of that, swelling and thick secretions accumulating in the sinus cavities also lead to headaches and sinus pain.
The symptoms of a head cold are usually at their worst during the first two to three days, before they gradually start to improve. In adults and older children, the symptoms usually last about seven to 10 days, but can go on longer. The symptoms can have a huge impact on your daily life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults get two or three colds each year, while kids can have eight or more annually .
Head colds are caused by several types of viruses, including rhinoviruses, human metapneumovirus , human parainfluenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus , to name a few.
The virus gets transmitted when an infected person sneezes or coughs, projecting droplets infected with the virus into the air or onto people around them.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of a head cold.
Sore Throat And Hoarse Voice
Postnasal drip can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can get worse.
If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat and hoarse voice. Frequent coughing and throat clearing can make a hoarse voice worse.
Read Also: Who To See For Sinus Issues