Viruses cause both the flu and the common cold, but a cold is often mistaken for a sinus infection, as both have similar symptoms, including:

  • Sinus pressure
  • Sinus drainage
  • Sinus blockage
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Mild fever

According to the CDC, “When sinusitis is caused by a virus or irritation in the air (like cigarette smoke), antibiotics will not help it get better. Acute sinusitis will almost always get better on its own. It is better to wait and take antibiotics only when they are needed. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can be harmful.”

Only bacterial sinus infections can be helped with antibiotics. It is entirely possible that the cold virus can cause severe swelling of the nasal passages or nasal blockage that helps bacteria grow. When this happens, a viral cold can turn into a bacterial sinus infection. Unfortunately, many doctors would rather simply prescribe antibiotics versus waiting until an actually bacterial infection is present.

“Sometimes antibiotics may be needed if the sinus infection is likely to be caused by bacteria. By asking about your symptoms and doing a physical examination, a healthcare provider can determine if you or your child needs antibiotics,” suggests the CDC.

If you are experiencing the symptoms above and suspect a bacterial sinus infection, or if you have reoccurring symptoms, give Atlanta ENT a call today.

Ramie A. Tritt, MD, President of Atlanta ENT