Is it a cold or a sinus infection?

What's Going Around week of January 23rd, 2017


It’s the time of year when many folks are walking around with a nose that’s either stuffy, runny or all of the above. Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether a cold virus or a bacterial sinus infection are to blame.

When is a cold just a cold?

According to Michael Benninger, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, a sinus infection usually begins with a cold, but will take a while to develop.

“If you got an upper respiratory tract infection or a cold; if you’re not getting better by about ten days, particularly if your mucus is getting thicker; you’re feeling even more run down; then it is probable that you’ve actually developed a bacterial sinus infection,” said Dr. Benninger.



Dr. Benninger said the first step to preventing sinus infections is to try to prevent getting a cold.

He urges folks who have a cold to make sure they wash their hands if they’ve touched their nose, because failing to do so can make it very easy to contaminate other people.

Dr. Benninger said there’s growing research that suggests the use of steroid nasal sprays, zinc lozenges, and nasal irrigation systems can greatly reduce the length and the intensity of both colds and sinus infections.



Sinus infections differ from colds because they develop from bacteria and are often treated with antibiotics.

Dr. Benninger said a cold does not always turn into a sinus infection and recommends waiting seven to ten days to see if the cold resolves on its own before seeking out antibiotics.

“We really have concerns about this growing antibiotic resistance because we’re giving so much unnecessary antibiotics, and a lot of it’s for sinus infections,” said Dr. Benninger. “There is this resistance that’s developing in the community that’s making it harder and harder for us to treat infections.”

Dr. Benninger said folks don’t necessarily need an antibiotic to cure a sinus infection, but without one it’s going to take longer to feel better.


What's Going Around

Pneumonia is back in the news this week as Former President George H.W. Bush remains at a Houston hospital after a bought with the bug.


Local doctors say they've seen a number of specific patients with pneumonia around the River City as well.

The CareSpot on the Southside in Duval County says several elderly patients have been diagnosed with pneumonia. Doctors use a chest X-ray to diagnose patients and they're treated with a round of antibiotics. Nurses say if you have it, you'll feel flu-like symptoms like fever and chills. 


In Clay County at the CareSpot in Middleburg, they've had a rise in flu patients this week,but strep throat has been keeping their clinic extra busy.


In St. Johns County at the Healing Arts Urgent Care in St. Augustine, people have been suffering from flu-like symptoms like congestion, headaches, and coughing. However, their test have come back negative for the flu. The clinic has also treated a few cases of pneumonia. 


In Nassau County at the care spot in Yulee, they've had a steady flow of patients testing positive for the flu. Strep throat, upper respiratory infections and pneumonia have also reported.