A headache, blocked nose, and sinus pains are synonymous with both the common cold and a sinus infection and they certainly have one thing in common at least, when they occur, the symptoms can make you feel unwell and miserable. It’s important to realize that they are different conditions entirely and of course, when it comes to treatment, this will vary too. Understanding the differences will help you in a preventative manner but If you want to know how to get rid of a sinus infection, then, start here.
There are four sinus cavities which include:
- Frontal sinus (forehead)
- Maxillary sinus (located behind the cheeks)
- Ethmoid sinuses (located between the eyes)
- Sphenoid sinus (located behind the ethmoids)
Each of these inner linings secrete mucus, epithelial cells and cells relevant to the immune system. They work to insulate and act as buffers should there be any facial trauma. They also humidify. When inflammation prevents the clearance of mucus, this can progress into a bacterial infection.
Sinus infection vs Cold
A sinus infection often begins with cold-like symptoms which includes a runny nose, mild fever and the start of a cough. If it is a sinus infection, it will then start to develop into pressure around the sinus cavities and you may have a headache and puffiness around the eyes. The pressure can be very intense. The nasal passages become inflamed and there is a multitude of reasons as to why this might happen:
- Dietary Causes
Some sinus infections occur through using too many nasal products and you may wish to reduce the use of these products if so. When it comes to the common cold, know that it is a virus that affects the respiratory system and as a result, you start to develop either a blocked or stuffy nose, may sneeze a lot and may develop that scratchy throat and cough as the cold continues. Despite much research into the common cold, there is still no cure, but it typically improves quite quickly.
Whether sinus infections or colds, we need to hydrate the body more. This means drinking plenty of water as this will help to stop those inflamed nasal membranes from drying out and as a result, there will be less irritation experienced. Steam inhalations are also useful for both conditions as they moisten the nasal passages. If you don’t want to sit over a bowl of hot water, try having a hot shower or bath. If you can’t breathe well, add a few drops of a favorite aromatherapy oil and this will help to open those nasal passages.
Nasal irrigation is also useful and is recommended for both colds and sinus infections. A saline solution will flush out any bacteria or irritants from the nasal passages. If you like spicy foods, it’s time to indulge and both conditions respond well when food is laced with some cayenne pepper. It works because it contains capsaicin, and this helps to reduce the swelling of the nasal passage and will also thin out thick mucus.
It is always worth seeking advice from your doctor especially when you feel unwell and pain is severe and ongoing. If you regularly have sinus infections, medical advice is essential. Antibiotics may be prescribed but, often a CT or MRI scan may be performed or, a rhinoscopy or endoscopy which enables the doctors to look at the back of the nasal passages to check if there are any growths. A sample may be taken to find out the actual cause of the sinus infection. You may also be sent to an ENT (eye, ears, nose and throat specialist.
No doubt, understanding the difference between colds and sinus infections will enable you to help yourself but, don’t just struggle, seek professional medical help and it may be possible to alleviate the symptoms once the cause has been established.