Uh-oh. You’re sneezing, coughing, and you have a bright red nose. You might be thinking it is just another cold, but then this one stays way too long. If this is what’s happening to you then it could be a problem with your sinuses. Although sinus infections are nothing to worry about, it’s necessary to know when you need to see a doctor.
What are Sinuses?
The sinuses are air-filled spaces found in the bones of the head and face. There are four pairs of sinuses as shown in the figure above. Usually, Sinuses are empty spaces except for a thin layer of mucus. Experts say that sinus help in humidifying the air we breathe in and the other function is to enhance the voices.
Why these good sinuses go bad?
When you have cold or allergy, then the nasal passage becomes swollen, which narrows or even blocks the small opening of the sinuses. This leads to the production of more mucus, which is often thicker, making it hard to flow out from sinuses. Now, this stagnant mucus forms a good home for viruses, bacteria, and fungi to grow.
Is it a cold or Sinus infection? How to know the difference?
However the symptoms are similar for both cold and sinus, there are some differences between the conditions which will help you in gauging which one you have.
1) Time duration: This is the first and foremost sign of Sinusitis. The normal cold sufferers have running nose for 1-2 days, followed by the stuffy nose for 2-4 days, after this, people start feeling better. Unlike this, a sinus infection will stay for around seven days or more.
2) Nasal discharge: Another potentially helpful sign of sinusitis is the color of the nasal discharge. A viral infection may produce a colorful discharge. However, bacteria produces greenish or yellow mucus.
3) Sinus headaches: The pressure and swelling in the sinus cause headache. Sinus pain can also lead to dental pain, pain in the jaws and cheek and ear pain.
4) Pain in the sinuses: Pain is a very common symptom of sinusitis. The inflammation and swelling in the sinus cause a dull pressure, which leads to pain in your forehead, upper jaws, and teeth, either side of the nose, or between the eyes. This may gradually lead to a headache.
5) Throat irritation and cough: The sinus blockage may cause irritation in the throat. This can also lead to a persistent cough, which gets even more annoying when you are lying down to sleep.
When to see a doctor?
If you observe the above-discussed signs and symptoms, then it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor. Initially, you can visit a General Practitioner and depending on the severity of the diseases he may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist also known as an otolaryngologist.
The doctor might ask you to get a CT scan done. This gives a clear picture to the doctor about the sinuses, he will then decide on what kind of treatment will make you get better.
So, if your cold remains more than 10 days, then don’t delay and call your doctor for an appointment.