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  • Writer's pictureDr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh

Why Do My Colds Always Turn Into Sinus Infections

Have you ever wondered why a common cold can sometimes evolve into a bothersome sinus infection? Let's unravel this phenomenon together and explore how you can halt this transition.

Why Do My Colds Always Turn Into Sinus Infections

Cold And Its Complications

The common cold, caused by a virus, is experienced by most people.


The common cold generally subsides within a week, but any infection in the nose, including the common cold, can easily travel to parts that share a mucosa lining along with the nose.

These parts include:

  1. Sinuses

  2. An eustachian tube that supplies air to the middle

  3. Throat

  4. Voicebox

  5. Lungs



Sinusitis, an infection in the sinuses, occurs when the air-filled cavities in the skull become inflamed and swollen. This inflammation can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi.


Cold is one of the most common sinus infection triggers, but it only occurs in people with underlying causes. The transition does not happen in every person.

Why Does Cold Always Turn Into Sinusitis?

Cold will not always turn into sinusitis. It only turns into sinusitis in people with few underlying conditions.

  • Allergies

  • Anomalies in the sinus drainage pathway

  • Lesser immunity against bacteria by birth


So, when a person with one or multiple of the underlying conditions gets cold, this simple cold can turn into sinusitis.



Role Of Cold In Triggering Sinusitis

 A common cold, a viral infection, usually lasts about a week.


However, any nasal infection, including the common cold, can spread to the sinuses. This can cause the mucosa lining in the sinuses to swell, leading to fluid buildup.


Allergies, anatomical anomalies in the sinus drainage pathway, and low immunity toward bacteria can worsen this swelling, leading to blockages and sinus infections.


A 15-day Critical Mark

For most people, sinusitis triggered by a cold will go away within 15 days from the start of cold symptoms, especially if there are no severe underlying causes.


Otherwise, the symptoms will likely decrease, indicating the shift from acute to subacute sinusitis. These symptoms will likely persist for another 30 days before becoming super mild and negligible, indicating the transition to chronic sinusitis, which is more prone to complications.


If the infection persists beyond this 15-day mark, it's advisable to consult with an ENT specialist. They will likely address any underlying issues and may prescribe antibiotics if necessary. Delaying treatment may result in a longer antibiotic course or even the need for surgery, so prompt attention as early as possible is crucial.


The Acute on Chronic Sinusitis Illusion

Many chronic sinusitis patients mistakenly believe they don't have sinusitis due to mild, negligible symptoms. However, a cold or any infection can worsen these symptoms, leading to acute on chronic sinusitis. During this stage, symptoms become severe and can disrupt daily life. After the cold subsides, acute on chronic sinusitis can gradually transition back to chronic sinusitis.


So, a misconception arises, making chronic sinusitis patients believe that a cold always progresses to sinusitis. Those individuals likely already had chronic sinusitis, and the cold simply triggered a transition from the chronic to “acute on chronic” stage.


Prevention Measures

Taking proactive steps to support your immune system and maintain healthy nasal passages can reduce the likelihood of your colds progressing into sinus infections.

  1. Promptly treat the common cold – use steam inhalations, nasal drops

  2. Ensure adequate sleep

  3. Stay hydrated

  4. Maintain a balanced diet

  5. Use spices wisely to boost immunity

  6. Manage Allergies

  7. Treat your sinusitis under an ENT’s guidance always.


In conclusion, while it’s frustrating when a cold progresses into a sinus infection, understanding the underlying causes and taking preventive measures can help reduce the risk of sinus infections. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your symptoms for an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

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