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How can I differentiate sinus infection from cold?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
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how do i know if i have a sinus infection and not a cold? i have blocked nose one nostril more than the other, facial pain, sore throat and feel tired with a dry cough! in the past this has happened and i would end up losing my voice with continous cough over a number of weeks so this is why i think it is my sinus. i really dont want this to happen again. Sometimes i find it very difficult to breathe and dark circles are under my eyes again. i am taking garlic tablet everyday because i know this is good for immune system and i have a healthy diet with lots of fruit and veg but i work shift wotk and when i work nights especially i always have problems with my sinus or is it allergic rhnnitus?
Can you reccomend what i could do because i dont like taking antibiotics, thanks
Posted Sat, 25 May 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 54 minutes later

Thanks for posting the query

After going through the history, I do feel you are having chronic sinusitis secondary to nasal allergy.

Following exposure to allergens (those things which induce allergy, such as dust, mould, pets, smoke, perfumes, pollens, certain food products, etc.) the nasal mucosa gets congested due to which the nose and the sinus openings get blocked. Once this happens the secretions get stagnated. The stagnated secretions act as a medium for the micro-organisms to thrive. Thus, the secretions get infected. Once the infected secretions trickle down into the throat from behind the nose, it causes congestion and irritation of the mucosa. Congestion and irritation of the throat induces cough, throat discomfort and hoarseness.

Allergic rhinitis is characterized by repeated sneezing, itching and watering of the nose and the eyes, alternate nasal block, throat discomfort, etc.

Sinusitis is characterized by nasal block, with or without nasal discharge, headache, cough, throat discomfort, associated with or without fever.

The bitter truth is 'there is no cure for allergy'. The preventive measures when followed religiously can get rid of allergy.

My suggestions to you are:

1. Drink plenty of warm water. Warm water helps in increasing the blood supply to inflamed tissues and relieves the nasal congestion. It also keeps the tissues moist and hydrated.

2. Use saline nasal spray 3-4 times a day, followed by steam inhalation.

3. Try taking a mucolytic such as bromhexine or ambroxol for reducing the consistency of the secretions.

4. An antihistamine such as loratidine or fexofenadine can be taken when there are allergic symptoms.

5. If you are not improving with the above measures you can use steroid nasal spray once in the morning.

6. Avoid sleeping under the fan or in front of the air conditioner.

7. Avoid exposing to dust or smoke or strong perfumes.

8. Change the pillow cover every night before going to bed.

9. Avoid coffee, chilled food or beverages.

Hope with these measures you will be alright. Revert back to me if you have any further queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
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