At one time or another—and maybe even multiple times each year—we’ve all had the symptoms of a cold. But there's no worse time
to suffer the symptoms of a cold than in the summer. The familiar prolonged running nose and sniffling, and the sinus pressure that comes along with it. How do you know if it’s just a common cold or a sinus infection?
Ilana Seligman, MD, Pediatric Otolaryngologist at NorthShore, breaks down the differences between a cold and a sinus infection, and tells us the right time to make an appointment
with a doctor:
There are not perfect steps to follow for cold prevention; instead, it’s best to wash your hands frequently, and avoid sharing cups and toothbrushes. If you already have a cold, there isn’t much a doctor can do because prescribing antibiotics is not recommended.
You can, however, treat the symptoms. Most colds typically last 7-10 days, and common symptoms include:
Treating the Symptoms
A sinus infection is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities. Very few colds—only 5-10%—will turn into sinus infections. Common signs your cold is a sinus infection include:
If you experience these symptoms it may be a sinus infection, which means it's time to consult your physician. Common treatment often includes prescribing antibiotics.
Do you know when you have a cold versus a sinus infection? What home remedies to you defer to when you have a cold?
Some of the most common illnesses that send us to the doctor’s office can be easily treated with medications; however, there
isn’t an easy, one-stop solution for every sniffle, cough or infection.
While antibiotics are one of the most frequently prescribed medications for a variety of conditions, they are not a cure-all for everything. In fact, for many common illnesses caused by viruses (flu, colds and sore throats), antibiotics are not recommended.
So when do you know if an antibiotic will help relieve symptoms?
Dirk Killelea, Manager of the NorthShore Evanston Hospital Pharmacy, offers his insight on antibiotics, including when you should take them and when you shouldn’t:
How frequently do you take antibiotics?