During the winter months, it seems like everyone catches a case of the sniffles. Sinus symptoms can have many potential causes, including allergies, the common cold, the flu, and sinus infections. It’s important to know what’s causing your symptoms in order to seek appropriate treatment. Below is a guide to help you determine what may be the source of your sinus problems and how to remedy them.
How do Allergies work?
Allergies are caused by an immune system response to a foreign substance that is typically considered harmless.
While sinus symptoms are common during an allergic reaction, so are itchy, watery eyes, which are not associated with the cold, flu or a sinus infection. When you have allergies, symptoms will occur for as long as you are exposed to the allergen.
What causes a Cold or Flu?
The cold and flu are caused by viruses and typically last between three and seven days. Both the cold and flu are associated with fatigue, achiness, sore throat and sinus pressure/drainage.
The most noticeable differences between the two are that flu symptoms are typically more severe and include a 100+ degree fever, and flu-related fatigue can hang on for weeks.
What causes a sinus infection?
While cold and flu symptoms tend to last up to a week, sinus infections can last much longer, from seven days to four weeks. In addition, many people experiencing a sinus infection report “double worsening,” where they begin to feel better after about a week then experience a resurgence of symptoms.
Caused by bacteria becoming trapped in the sinuses, a sinus infection is much less likely than the cold or flu to run its course and may lead to sinusitis; it requires treatment by a physician.
Treatment depends on the cause of your symptoms. Allergies can be managed short-term with over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops, and long-term with allergy shots or drops.
The cold and flu can be treated with over-the-counter cold/flu medications, or in more severe cases, with a prescribed anti-viral medication. Sinus infections, however, require a prescribed antibiotic. Talk to your doctor before you begin treatment.
To learn more about how to prevent or treat sinus infections, call Blue Ridge ENT today!