How are sinusitis and a cold different?
When your child gets sick, you absolutely want to ensure they feel better as soon as possible. However, before you instantly head for the cold medicine aisle, it’s significant that you know that there is a difference between sinusitis and a general cold. Especially since the two can exhibit such similar sign. While you should consult a doctor when your child is sick, knowing more about these types of situation will help you better understand what is going on with your child when he or she is under the weather.
What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis means that the nose and sinuses are inflamed, which stop normal mucus drainage. There are actually a number of different forms of sinusitis. Most commonly sinusitis is due to a bacterial or viral cause. The viral form can actually come along with a common cold. In fact, bacterial sinusitis may be referred to as a secondary infection when it is reason by something else. In other words, the child may have been sick with something else, and this allowed bacterial infection to develop in the sinuses. Sinusitis can also be driven by allergy. Further, allergic fungal rhino sinusitis is triggered by an allergy to fungi and often happens together with nasal polyps.
The sign of sinusitis may contain thick nasal discharges that are discolored and yellow or green, a stuffy or plugged-up nose and pain or pressure in the face, around the eyes or in the forehead.
Chronic sinusitis persists for three months or longer. This may start as a sinus infection and look similar to acute sinusitis, but tends to be a simmering problem. Along with the normal sign outlined above, chronic sinusitis may also cause a loss in sense of smell. To diagnose the chronic sinusitis, your doctor must confirm the presence of inflammation. This usually means taking a CT scan or performing a nasal endoscopy to look for signs of inflammation, which can contain nasal polyps or colored mucus draining out of the sinuses.
Nasal polyps are common, non-cancerous growths that develop in the nose or sinuses. Polyps generally start around the area where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity. Mature nasal polyps may look like grapes.
Nasal polyps are associated with allergies or asthma. They can block the normal drainage from the sinuses and when too much mucus accumulates in the sinuses, it can become infected. This can account for the thick, discolored drainage from the nose and throat that affects many people with chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps.
Classification of sinusitis
Generally sinusitis is labeled into three subtypes that may have different causes:
- Chronic rhino sinusitis without nasal polyps, which happen in around 60% of people.
- Chronic rhino sinusitis with nasal polyps, which happen in around 20-30% of people. This type is more likely to be associated with asthma and aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease.
- Allergic fungal rhino sinusitis, which happen in around 10-20% of people
Symptoms of sinusitis may include
- Symptoms similar to a cold, including runny nose and cough lasting more than 10 days
- Fever that may last three to four days
- Often comes along with a severe headache, which feels like pressure around the eyes and forehead
- Potential for bad breath
There are also some uncommon symptoms, such as pain in the back of the neck, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. In these cases a complication may be present. In this situation it is significant that your child see a doctor as soon as possible.
What is a common cold?
The cold is a virus that is very contagious. It can actually become worse if the child develops a sinus infection in addition to the virus. While you will see that the symptoms of the cold are very similar to sinusitis, there are some key differences.
The symptoms of the common cold include:
- It generally lasts between five and ten days.
- Nasal discharge with a common cold generally starts out with clear liquid – if this turns yellow or even green, that is a sign of progression to sinusitis.
- A cough with a common cold tends to get worse at night.
- Generally, a cold doesn’t come along with a high fever, but if there is fever, it will last only a day or two.
- The sign of a common cold generally get worse within three or four days of when it first developed.