Ever get a sinus infection following a bad cold? It's called sinusitis. After a cold, you are at greater risk of developing a sinus infection, because a cold causes inflammation and swelling of the sinuses. While sinusitis and cold symptoms can make you miserable, they are common problems and affect millions of Americans each day. Here's up-to-date information about sinusitis and colds.
The common cold, an upper respiratory infection, is usually caused by a virus that infects the nose and throat.
Common cold symptoms include nasal congestion; runny nose; post-nasal drip, which is a drop-by-drop release of nasal fluid into the back of the throat; headache; and fatigue. Cough and mild fever may also accompany these symptoms.
Cold symptoms usually build, peak, and slowly disappear. No treatment is necessary for a cold, but some medications can ease symptoms. For example, decongestants may decrease drainage and open the nasal passages. Pain relievers may help with fever and headache. Cough medication may help, as well. Colds will typically last from a few days to about a week or longer.
In some instances, a cold may cause swelling in the sinuses, preventing the outflow of mucus. This can lead to a sinus infection. If you have sinus pain -- pain around the face and eyes -- and thick yellow or green mucus that persist after a week, then you should see your health care provider to determine if you have a sinus infection.
What Is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection is inflammation or swelling of your sinuses. Normally, your sinuses are filled with air. When the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, bacteria can grow there and cause infection. This infection is sinusitis.