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It’s the season for all things SINUS!!!

With all the “yellow haze” in the area allergy season is in full bloom.  Coughing, sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes are all around!  How can you tell the difference between allergies, the common cold, and acute sinusitis?


Allergies, or hay fever, as it is sometimes called, can have similar symptoms as a cold or sinus infection.  Symptoms occur when you are exposed to the allergens (pollens, grasses, other plants).  The symptoms may include nasal congestion, sinus pressure, facial pain, cough, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, runny nose, dark circles under the eyes (called allergic shiners), itching of the roof of the mouth or throat, and also fatigue and irritability.  These symptoms can come and go at various times of the year. Spring is one of those times!

Keep windows closed at home and in the car and use air conditioning.  Avoid going outside at times of high pollen count.

Treatment for allergies may include antihistamines and nasal sprays.  Treatments may need to be used for a period of time depending upon frequency or exposure to the allergen.

The Common Cold

The common cold is caused by viruses.  More than 200 viruses are known to cause the common cold.  Symptoms include runny nose that is clear or thick in consistency, yellow or green in color. Also, cough, nasal congestion, itchy or sore throat, mild headache, sneezing, watery eyes, and even a low-grade fever.  Most people get at least one cold per year.  Children may get more than 5 colds per year!

Proper hand washing, covering the mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing, and appropriate disposal of tissues can help prevent the spread of cold viruses.

Treatment for the common cold includes rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and symptomatic treatment with decongestants, antihistamines, and acetaminophen or Nonsteroidal Anti-inflamatories (NSAIDs) for discomfort.

ANTIBIOTICS DO NOT CURE THE COMMON COLD! Most colds last for 1 to 2 weeks.

Acute Sinusities

Acute sinusitis is inflammation of the mucous membranes of the sinuses, nose, and throat.  This can be caused by a virus, bacteria, and even fungus.  Symptoms may include thick yellow or green nasal drainage down the back of the throat, nasal congestion, facial pain, pain in teeth, cough that is sometimes worse at night, sore throat, bad breath, fever, and even nausea.  The most common cause is a viral upper respiratory infection prior to these worsening symptoms.

Proper hand washing reduces the risk for sinusitis, upper respiratory viruses and management of allergies.

Treatment for acute sinusitis depends upon its cause. If it is caused by a virus, symptomatic treatment is needed with rest, plenty of fluids, nasal sprays, decongestants, expectorants, and acetaminophen or NSAIDs for discomfort. If the cause is bacterial antibiotics may be used.

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