Capital Region Special Surgery medical office Albany, NY

A multi-disciplinary practice dedicated to state-of-the-art care.

Medical specialists Albany New York

ENT Tips for Cold and Flu Season

November 12, 2012

Maybe it’s not a cold.  Knowing the difference between sinusitis and cold symptoms


Check your symptoms

More than 200 different types of viruses can cause a cold. The three most frequent symptoms of a cold are nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and runny nose. Throat irritation is also often involved. Adults and older children with colds generally have minimal or no fever. Infants and toddlers often run a fever in the 100 to 102 degree range.

Depending on which virus is the culprit, the virus might also produce a headache, cough, postnasal drip, burning eyes, muscle aches, or a decreased appetite, but in a cold, the most prominent symptoms are in the nose.

Once you have “caught” a cold, the symptoms begin in one to five days. Usually irritation in the nose or a scratchy feeling in the throat is the first sign, followed within hours by sneezing and a watery nasal discharge.

The entire cold is usually over all by itself in about seven days, with perhaps a few lingering symptoms (cough) for another week. If it lasts longer, consider another problem, such as a sinus infection or allergies.

Sinusitis

Acute bacterial sinusitis is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It usually is preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation by environmental pollutants. Unlike a cold or allergy, bacterial sinusitis requires a physician’s diagnosis and may require treatment with an antibiotic to cure the infection and prevent future complications.

Normally, mucus collecting in the sinuses drains into the nasal passages. When you have a cold or allergy attack, your sinuses become inflamed and are unable to drain. This can lead to congestion and infection. Diagnosis of acute sinusitis usually is based on a physical examination and a discussion of your symptoms.

When you have frequent sinusitis, or the infection lasts three months or more, it could be chronic sinusitis. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis may be less severe than those of acute, however, untreated chronic sinusitis can cause damage to the sinuses and cheekbones that sometimes problems like asthma. For some allergy sufferers, symptoms may be seasonal, but for others it is a year-round discomfort.

Allergies

Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to an allergic substance that has entered the body as though it was an unwelcome invader. Many common substances can be allergens—pollens, food, mold, dust, feathers, animal dander, and chemicals.

When an allergen reenters the body, the immune system rapidly recognizes it, causing a series of reactions. It also causes the production of many inflammatory substances including histamine.

Histamine produces common allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, headaches, sneezing, scratchy throat, hives, or shortness of breath. Other less common symptoms are balance disturbances, skin irritations such as eczema, and even respiratory

Maintaining sinus health

Maintaining sinus health during the cold and flu season can help prevent a case of sinusitis. The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery suggests the following ways to keep your sinuses clear:

Fields marked with an * are required

If this is an emergency or life-threatening situation, please call 911. Questions related to surgery scheduling, cancellation, rescheduling or pre-operative exams must be conducted via telephone or in-person with our surgical scheduling staff during normal business hours.



Have you had any of the following imaging studies done as they pertain to your requested appointment?