It’s easy to confuse common colds and sinus infection because the symptoms are similar: irritable, itchy nose, watery eyes, breathing discomfort, and sinus pressure. When these symptoms are present, people run to over-the-counter medication for relief. But what if the symptoms just won’t go away? How do you know if these symptoms do not lead to a serious disease? More importantly, are these infections avoidable?
Colds–viral or bacterial?
Viruses or bacteria can affect the upper respiratory tract, causing the common cold. These are not fatal. Common colds only cause mild to severe discomfort. In fact, the body’s immune system can neutralize it on its own after a few days to a week. For viral colds, the treatments are usually given to relieve symptoms. However, for bacterial colds, doctors prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
The sinuses are a network of air-filled spaces located across a wide area behind your eyes, nose, forehead, and cheeks. These defend the body against microorganisms that can enter the nose or mouth.
Similar to the common cold, sinus infections are caused by bacteria and viruses, thus producing similar symptoms. Despite the similarity, there are signs that differentiate a sinus infection from a common cold:
- Harsh headaches
- Severe sinus pressure and pain behind the eyes and cheeks
- Bad breath and a decreased sense of smell
- Worse symptoms happening over a longer period of time
Sinus infections are treated with antibiotics. However, people who have severe allergies or those who smoke are more prone to recurring sinus infections.
Avoiding Infection in the Workplace
Handwashing is Key
Reduce the risk of contracting infections by washing your hands with soap and water. Viruses and bacteria on your hands can easily transfer into your body or to other people. In addition to this, use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Steer Clear of the Sick
As much as possible, avoid being in contact with sick people. Also, refrain from shaking hands or touching things that belong to them. Remember, hands easily carry bacteria and viruses to and from the body.
Sharing is not Always Caring
You might want to rethink sharing food, drinks, or utensils with your coworkers. Anything that goes in, on, or near a person’s mouth can transfer germs, and coming into contact with another person’s saliva is a sure way to catch a virus.
If you have a sinus infection or a common cold that will not go away, maybe it is time to consult an eye, ear, and throat specialist. If left untreated, these may develop to a more serious illness. Visit ManilaMed for treatment and proper diagnosis of upper respiratory tract infections.