Problem of the week – Sinus infection

With the changeover to winter and frequent changes in the weather,  the most common complaint this week was that “I have a sinus infection”:

When people say they have a sinus infection they aren’t sure exactly what’s going on but know they have multiple nasal and facial symptoms often associated with a sinus infection.

Sinus infections are not as easy to sort out as is often thought.  In the case of a more acute problem less than a month, they quite often start out as a viral upper respiratory infection more commonly known as a cold.  When symptoms don’t resolve or progress it can sometimes lead to a sinus infection.  In this blog I will give a brief summary of a viral infection of the sinuses versus a bacterial infection that warrants treatment with antibiotics:

Upper Respiratory Infections have the following symptoms:

Nasal congestion

Facial pressure

Post Nasal Drip

Sore throat

Clear drainage that can become yellow or green as infection evolves

Present for up to 1 week

They typical cold or viral infection evolves over 4 to 5 days often getting worse over that time period and then starts to improve.  If the infection starts to get much worse, is associated with fever or pain and the one feels much worse, it may have evolved into a bacterial infection which is described below.

Bacterial Sinusitis symptoms:

The symptoms of bacterial sinusitis are the same as a viral infection noted above but often worse.  Signs that the infection needs antibiotics are the following:


Increase facial pain and pressure

Increased and copious amounts of yellow or green drainage

Increasing cough

Increasing fatigue and malaise

Typically it’s best to wait out nasal/sinus infections for the 4 to 5 days to see if it will resolve on it’s on.  In fact up to 50% of bacterial infections can get better without antibiotics.  However, it you are feeling much worse with the symptoms above please give the office a call.  We are happy to discuss the problem with you and always have appointments available for patients in need.  We are here to help.

Dr. Bert Brown

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