When you've got a cold or allergies, you know the regular signs - sneezing, stuffy nose, headache, sinus pressure. But how do you know when it's more than allergies or a cold? If you are concerned that you might have more than just a common ailment, read through these symptoms to see if you're dealing with a sinus infection.
Recognize that sinus infections are often diagnosed as URIs. A sinus infection can often be diagnosed as an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URI) by family doctors. The latter results in the same symptoms, but has a much different prescribed treatment. The good news is a URI will generally heal on its own. So don't fret if you are experiencing the following symptoms in a mild form. However, more severe or longer lasting symptoms may indicate a full-blown sinus infection, in which case you will need to see your doctor for antibiotics.
Clear, runny nose. Your nose and its actions are the easiest indicator of whether or not you have a sinus infection. Generally, those with a sinus infection have a clear, runny nose. The mucous may turn green or yellow after a few days. And the nose-blowing will seem endless.
Fever. A fever is a general indicator that the body is fighting off infection, so it could be a symptom of many illnesses. Anyone with a temperature of more than 102˚F that lasts for more than 3 days should see a doctor. If you have a fever, look for other sinus infection symptoms before assuming that you do, in fact, have a sinus infection.
Cough. A cough is another general indicator of illness. It could be a symptom of the common cold and it could be more than that. Again, when paired with other sinus infection symptoms, it is more likely that the cough is due to the infection and not from a simple cold. Look for the cough to worsen at night as well, as this is a general indicator that it's caused by a sinus infection.
Headache. Because of all the buildup within your sinus cavity, one of the most painful symptoms of a sinus infection will be a headache. The pressure can be felt at your temples, and running vertically up your nasal column. It can be relieved with acetaminophen or over-the-counter nasal sprays temporarily, but it won't permanently go away until your sinus infection clears up.
Feeling lethargic. Children seem to show this sinus infection symptom more often, but it is a definite indicator that a sinus infection is present. Especially when a child has been given drugs to treat a cold or sinus infection, a child has fewer physical resources to expend on regular activities. Your child will want to sit, rest, sleep and be cuddled if he has a sinus infection, and you'll probably want the same treatment as an adult. Take the time to rest if you are experiencing the symptoms of a sinus infection, as it allows your body time to heal.
In both children and adults, these sinus infection symptoms will increase for about a week's time, after which they should subside. If you find that you have had these sinus infection symptoms for more than a week, or if you are concerned at all about your health, see your health care provider immediately.