How Coughing And Sinus Infections Are Related To Each Other
When you experience excess mucus draining into your throat, this is actually known as post nasal drip, and it is just one of the many cold symptoms also associated with chronic sinus infections. Post nasal drip doesnt just cause coughing, though. It can also bring about a sore throat, a hoarse voice, nausea, and even bad breath.
But why exactly does post nasal drip during a sinus infection lead to coughing? Well, imagine mucus running down your throat. Is your throat irritated? Probably. Do you feel a tickling sensation? Most likely. All of these sensations can trigger a reaction that reaction is coughing.
Unfortunately, all the nose blowing and coughing that youll continue to do as a result of the mucus drainage will only lead to more mucus and more irritation. This is why its important to understand the best way to stop a sinus infection and relieve post nasal drip.
Whats The Main Difference Between Sinus Infection And Covid
The main difference between COVID and a sinus infection is what causes them. A sinus infection is caused by inflammation of the sinuses and often follows a cold or allergy flare-up. COVID-19 is only caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
Start Treating Your Symptoms Right Away
Since viruses cant be cured, treating colds is primarily aimed at improving symptoms.
Its important to remember that with colds and other viruses, taking an antibiotic wont help you feel better any faster, says Dr. Woodard. In fact, taking an antibiotic unnecessarily can do more harm than good.
The overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which can make subsequent infections more difficult to treat.
Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and rinse out your sinuses with saline irrigation, which can help thin mucous and flush it from your nasal cavity, he says.
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How A Sinus Infection Happens
Colds can progress to become sinus infections, but not all sinus infections are viral. Bacteria and even allergies also can cause sinus infections.
A sinus infection occurs when the sinus lining becomes inflamed, preventing the sinuses from draining, he says. The trapped mucous becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a sinus infection.
Conditions that may make you more likely to get a sinus infection include:
- Nasal polyps .
- Immunodeficiencies .
Is It A Cold Covid
One of the challenging things about recognizing COVID-19 and other illnesses is that they can share some of the same symptoms. Many articles have been written comparing the symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza, as these two illnesses have perhaps the most in common. But many symptoms of COVID-19 also resemble those of a cold or sinus infection . Learn to tell the difference and how to get the right treatment for your illness.
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How Can Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis Be Prevented
Prevention of a sinus infection depends upon its cause.
- Avoid contracting upper respiratory tract infections. Maintain strict hand washing habits and avoid people who are suffering from a cold or the flu.
- Obtaining the flu vaccination yearly will help to prevent the flu and subsequent infection of the upper respiratory tract.
- In some studies, zinc carbonate lozenges have been shown to reduce the duration of many cold symptoms.
- Stress reduction and a diet rich in antioxidants, especially fresh, dark-colored fruits and vegetables, may help strengthen the immune system.
- Plan for seasonal allergy attacks.
- If a sinus infection is caused by seasonal or environmental allergies, avoiding allergens is very important. If avoidance is not an option, either OTC or prescription medication may be helpful. OTC antihistamines or decongestant nasal sprays can be used for an acute attack.
- People who have seasonal allergies may benefit from nonsedating prescription antihistamines during allergy-season.
- Avoid spending long periods outdoors during allergy season. Close the windows to the house and use air conditioning to filter out allergens when possible. Humidifiers may also be helpful.
- Allergy shots, also called “immunotherapy,” may be effective in reducing or eliminating sinusitis due to allergies. An allergist administers shots regularly for 3 to 5 years, which often produces a reduction or complete remission of allergy symptoms for years.
When To Seek Medical Treatment For Sinusitis And Bronchitis
When it comes to getting over a sinus infection or bronchitis, patience and time are usually the best remedies. Because most infections are viral, prescription antibiotics arent always an effective treatment option and taking them can be dangerous and lead to problems related to antibiotic resistance. In most cases, infections related to sinusitis and bronchitis will resolve on their own.
Within a week of getting sick, symptoms related to sinusitis or bronchitis should start to improve. If you dont start feeling better or feel worse, its a good idea to reach out to a medical provider who can provide guidance about managing symptoms and also about your treatment options.
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Complications Of Chronic Sinusitis
Some people are troubled by frequent sinus infections, or continuous infection. Chronic sinusitis can linger for weeks or even months at a time. This can sometimes lead to serious complications, including infections in the bones and tissue near to the sinuses. Very rarely this infection can spread to the brain and the fluid around the brain. The person will be very ill and have swelling around the eyes.People with chronic sinusitis may have other problems which affect the nose, throat and ears at the same time, including:
- Middle ear infection and temporary deafness
- Post-nasal drip , which can lead to constant coughing, a sore throat and bad breath.
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The Link Between Sinus Infections And Bronchitis
Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner
When a cold strikes, it can make you feel miserable. Whats more, a stuffed up head and nose can quickly progress leading to other uncomfortable symptoms including facial pain, sinus pressure, post-nasal drip and chest congestion. In fact its not uncommon for a cold to develop into a sinus infection or bronchitis.
But what exactly is a sinus infection? Are sinus infections and bronchitis linked? Why are some people more prone to developing sinus and bronchial infections? And, most importantly, if you have a sinus infection or bronchitis, what can you do to feel better?
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What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Fluid buildup in the sinuses can cause germs to grow, leading to a sinus infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often lasts even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria or, rarely, fungus may cause a sinus infection.
Treatment For Sinusitis And Bronchitis
You can treat a sinus infection at home with a combination of medications such as antihistamines, nasal decongestant sprays, topical nasal corticosteroid sprays, and nasal saline washes. All of these methods can help address the inflammation and swelling that occur in the nasal passages and sinus openings due to a sinus infection.
However, topical nasal decongestants should only be used for three or four days, as overuse can result in dependency. Likewise, over-the-counter nasal decongestants and antihistamines may contain drying agents that can thicken mucus and should be used sparingly and with caution so as to not cause additional congestion.
Home remedies for bronchitis include increasing the amount of fluid you consume and using a cool-mist humidifier. Drinking more fluids can help to thin the mucus in the lungs. Using a humidifier can soothe irritated airways.
The most common medications that can assist with bronchitis are bronchodilators and decongestants.
Bronchodilators can provide relief by opening tight air passages in the lungs. If you experience any wheezing, a doctor may prescribe one for you. Decongestants may relieve some of the symptoms associated with bronchitis. Because bronchitis is generally caused by a virus, antibiotics are not helpful in its treatment.
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Check If You Have A Chest Infection
The main symptoms are:
- a chesty cough you may cough up green or yellow mucus
- wheezing and shortness of breath
- chest pain or discomfort
- aching muscles
These symptoms can be unpleasant, but they usually get better on their own in about 7 to 10 days.
The cough and mucus can last up to 3 weeks.
Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and you’re very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
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Treatment For Acute Bronchitis
Antibiotics usually aren’t helpful because acute bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus, which will not respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually only needed if your doctor diagnoses you with whooping cough or pneumonia.
Medications called bronchodilators are used to open tight air passages in the lungs. Your doctor may prescribe this type of medicine if you are wheezing.
Your doctor will tell you to drink more fluids to help thin mucus in the lungs, rest and soothe your airways by increasing humidity in the air with a cool mist humidifier.
Symptoms will usually go away within seven to 14 days if you don’t have chronic pulmonary disease. However, in some people it may take much longer for the cough to go away.
Which Specialties Of Doctors Treat Sinus Infections And Sinusitis
- Sinusitis is often first diagnosed by a general practitioner, primary care physician, or internal medicine physician. A pediatrician may diagnose sinus infections in children.
- If sinusitis is chronic or severe, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist, also called an ear, nose, and throat specialist . If your sinusitis is caused by allergies, you may be referred to an allergist.
- If you experience an emergency due to your sinusitis, go to the Emergency Department at the nearest hospital.
Treatment For Chronic Sinusitis
Antibiotics: The usual method of treatment for bacterial sinusitis is through a prescription for antibiotics. The length of the antibiotics course depends partially on the type of medicine that is taken, and also it depends on how severe or lengthy the case of sinusitis has been. The normal experience for a patient is that the medicine is taken for 3-28 days.
In light of common issues connected with antibiotics, such as abuse and overuse, there has been an obvious decrease in the effectiveness of these medicines. If a patient has only been experiencing symptoms for a few days, it is likely antibiotics will not be prescribed. If the symptoms are persistent , or worsening, a patient should then acquire a prescription for antibiotics from their doctor.
The purpose of antibiotics is not to alleviate symptoms, but to attack the bacterium that causes the infection in the first place. Therefore, when the antibiotics are taken, the effects may not be felt for a few days until the bacteria have been fully attacked.
If a patient needs immediate pain or symptom relief, there are various over-the-counter medications that can help.
Nasal Decongestant Sprays: Nasal decongestant sprays are not designed to fix the overall issues pertaining to sinus infections, but as a symptom reliever, to reduce swelling in the nasal passages, helping the flow of bacteria and mucus to be facilitated and clear the sinuses.
Surgery for Chronic Sinusitis
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How Is Each Condition Diagnosed
A common cold can usually be diagnosed with a standard physical examination and a review of symptoms. Your doctor may perform a rhinoscopy if they suspect a sinus infection.
During a rhinoscopy, your doctor will insert an endoscope gently into your nose and sinus cavity so they can look at the lining of your sinuses. An endoscope is a thin tube that has a light at one end and either has a camera or an eyepiece to look through.
If your doctor thinks an allergy is causing your sinus inflammation, they may recommend an allergy skin test to help identify the allergen causing your symptoms.
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Remedies And Treatments For Chest Congestion
The common cold and chest congestion are the result of a virus. The only cure for this kind of virus involves resting and waiting for the virus to clear. Antibiotics are only helpful in treating diseases like pneumonia and whooping cough. However, some home remedies and treatments can soothe your aching chest and relieve your symptoms.
Doctors suggest these home remedies for chest congestion:
- Drink plenty of clear fluids to keep your body hydrated and thin the mucus inside your throat and lungs.
- Place a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in the room to soothe any lung irritation.
- Sleep with your head propped up on several pillows to make breathing easier and prevent mucus from accumulating in your chest overnight.
- Take a hot shower and breathe in the steam to ease congestion.
- Try an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease body aches and reduce fever.
- Use saline drops or nasal spray to alleviate congestion.
- Use lozenges to keep your throat moist.
- Use bronchodilators, which relax the muscles in your lungs and widen your bronchi to make breathing easier. Bronchodilators are often used to treat long-term conditions where your airways become inflamed and narrow, such as asthma.
Symptoms usually start to go away within seven days to two weeks if you donât have an underlying condition like chronic pulmonary disease. Medicines like may also loosen mucus and ease other symptoms.
Warning Signs And Symptoms Of A Dangerous Sinus Infection
Sinusitis describes inflammation of one or more of the paranasal sinuses, the air-filled spaces in the facial bones that open into the nasal cavity. This condition often occurs because of infection. Although infectious sinusitis is certainly uncomfortable, it usually does not pose a serious health threat. However, rare complications of infectious sinusitis can be dangerous and potentially life threatening if not diagnosed and treated promptly. These complications involve spread of the infection to the structures around the eye, the facial bones and/or the nervous system. Although rare, it’s important watch for warning signs and symptoms that might signal a potentially serious infectious sinusitis complication.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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How To Prevent Sinus Drainage
Most people believe that to get rid of or prevent sinus drainage, you must breathe in only dry air. The opposite is true. If you are at risk or currently have sinus drainage, then you will want to be breathing in humid air. This can be done through having a humidifier. If you do not have a humidifier, then you can take a steamy shower or go into the bathroom with the shower running and breathe in the humid air.
Since sinus drainage is a direct result from allergies and upper respiratory infections, then it is important to stay healthy. If you have been diagnosed with certain allergies, then you will want to follow your physicians directions on how to minimize symptoms. If you know what triggers your allergies, then avoid them completely. If you are unsure of what your allergies are to, then schedule an appointment with one of our allergists to discover what they are. This is the key step in prevention. If your sinus drainage is typically a result of a respiratory infection, then you will want to minimize your time around people that are sick and wash your hands frequently.
Tobacco smoke is one of the main causes to sinus drainage. If you are currently a smoker, then you will need to quit smoking immediately. If you are constantly around tobacco smoke or air pollution, then limit your time outdoors or around these irritants. These pollutions will irritate and inflame the nasal passages.
When To See A Doctor
In some cases, at-home remedies might not do the trick. If you arenât feeling better after a few days, have a fever that isnât going away, are wheezing, or canât seem to shake the infection, make an appointment with your doctor. Chest congestion may indicate a condition more serious than the common cold or bronchitis.
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How To Treat A Cold Vs A Sinus Infection
Theres no medication cure or vaccine for the common cold. Instead, treatment should focus on managing symptoms.
Congestion can often be relieved by using a saline spray in each nostril a couple of times a day. A nasal decongestant, such as oxymetazoline , may also be helpful. But you shouldnt use it for more than three days.
If you have a headache, or body aches and pains, you may take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
For a sinus infection, saline or decongestant nasal spray may help with congestion. You may also be prescribed a corticosteroid, usually in a nasal spray form. A pill form may be necessary in certain cases in order to help reduce severely inflamed sinuses.
If your doctor thinks you may have a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed a course of antibiotic therapy. This should be taken exactly as prescribed and for the duration recommended by your doctor.
Stopping a course of antibiotics too soon can allow an infection to linger and for symptoms to develop again.
For both a sinus infection and a common cold, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.