Summer Cold or a Sinus Infection?

Thursday, August 04, 2016 11:06 AM

At one time or another—and maybe even multiple times each year—our kids (and us!) have 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 can be a drag, especially when they keep us from enjoying the beautiful weather. It can complicate things further when your little one cannot articulate all of their symptoms. How do you know if it’s just a common cold or something more serious like a sinus infection?

Molly Antoniolli, MD, Pediatrics 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:

Common Cold

There are no perfect steps to follow for cold prevention; instead, it’s best to wash you and your kids hands frequently, and avoid sharing cups and toothbrushes. If your child already has 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:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Clear or colored nasal discharge

Treating the Symptoms

  • Unfortunately, cold medicine is not recommended for children under 6 years old as it has been shown to be ineffective and can cause serious side effects. However, there are other things to try such as a humidifier, and nasal sprays/suctioning.
  • Treating the Symptoms:
  • For cough, warm liquids, can be enough to provide relief. In children over 1 year old, honey can help sooth sore, scratchy throats, and suppress cough. Honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age!
  • Drink plenty of fluids! It helps thin out secretions.
  • Sleep! Rest is the key to bouncing back fast.

Sinus Infection
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:

  • Continued nasal congestion after 10 days
  • Significant headaches, teeth or facial pain
  • High fever or persistent drainage

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.
Taking care of kids is tough, and can sometimes be scary! It is never wrong to call or visit your Pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Do you know when you or your kids have a cold versus a sinus infection? What home remedies do you defer to when your kids have a cold?