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Community Advocacy Organization

When to Know If Your Sniffles Become a Sinus Infection

Courtesy Photo

Several factors can increase your risk of getting an infection. These include a previous cold, seasonal allergies, smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, structural problems with the sinuses (such as growths on the lining of the nose or sinuses, known as nasal polyps), a weak immune system, or taking drugs that weaken the immune system.

“Symptoms to a common cold are typically a short period of time, lasting a few days to a week, but a sinus infection will have other associated symptoms such as a fever and foul smell, and it tends to linger,” said Ahmed Sufyan, MD, a double board-certified ENT and facial plastic surgeon at Mid-Michigan Ear, Nose and Throat practice. “Sometimes a sinus infection can start out as a cold that turns in to a secondary (bacterial or fungal) infection, which can lead to a more chronic infection.”

Courtesy Photo- Ahmed Sufyan, MD.

Other common symptoms of sinus infections include runny and stuffy nose, facial pain or pressure, headache, mucus dripping down the throat (post-nasal drip), sore throat, cough, and bad breath.

At-home therapies can be used to reduce discomfort. These include rest, saline rinses for the nose and sinuses, staying hydrated, and using over the counter anti-inflammatory and decongestant medications. Dr. Sufyan suggests if symptoms last more than 10 days or worsen, you should see your doctor to decide if antibiotics is needed for treatment.

“If you are having reoccurring sinus infections, such as more than two or three sinus infections in a year, you would want see an otolaryngologist, or ear nose and throat doctor, to figure out if there are any structural abnormalities that are setting you up for more infections,” said Dr. Sufyan.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still a large factor in respiratory illnesses and cold-like symptoms, Dr. Sufyan suggests if you are having a symptom such as congestion or sore throat, the best thing to do to protect others and yourself is to stay home, get tested, and continue to wash your hands often and thoroughly.

Click here to contact Dr. Sufyan at Mid-Michigan Ear, Nose and Throat if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

Looking for a primary care provider? Click here for a list of providers accepting new patients.

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