Skip to main content

Colds, Flu, and Sinus Infections…YUCK!!

Cold, flu, and sinus infection season are upon us! 

Good morning!

At AccessMedicine we work hard to provide the best medical care possible. In that interest, here is some great information about the most common reasons for doctor visits and lost time at school and work this time of year and what you can do about it. 


There are over 200 viruses that can cause this condition. Children commonly will get 5-7 colds per year. Adults typically can get 2-3 colds per year. Symptoms can include all or some of the following: headache, fever, nasal congestion, runny nose, drainage which can be clear, yellow, green or brown in the throat, cough, sore throat, ear popping or pain, body aches, sinus pressure, loss of smell, loss of voice, sinus pain, lymph node swelling in the neck, green and yellow mucus production. Variations of these symptoms can last 1-2 weeks, but some people can have the symptoms up to 4 weeks. In one study, the average duration of cough with a viral upper respiratory infection was 18 days. If the fevers and other symptoms have subsided but you still have a cough it doesn’t mean you still have an infection.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment that will cure the condition. It must run its course and will go away on its own. Antibiotics are not effective at all for this issue. It is wise to avoid antibiotics when they aren’t necessary as use can lead to antibiotic resistance and skin infections such as MRSA. There are various over the counter remedies that can help with the symptoms including Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Mucinex, antihistamines like Zyrtec, Sudafed, Delsym, Cepacol lozenges, Chloraseptic spray, etc. Be sure to drink plenty of water while you are sick. If you are unsure about a medication and whether it will interact with your medications or your medical conditions check with your doctor or come see us (we’re still taking new patients)!

An article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which helps to understand the hesitation with prescribing antibiotics inappropriately. It’s helpful to understand how and why we make the decisions that we do for your health.

By far the best thing you can do to prevent infection is to wash your hands frequently. Also, do your best to avoid those who are ill. If you are ill, cough and sneeze into your elbow to prevent spread.

Frequently, in our office, we can treat this over the phone, via text or email. We are happy to see you if needed. However, frequently it is better to treat outside of the office as we want to prevent spread to other patients.


The clear majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses. Bacterial infection only accounts for 0.5-2% of all sinus infections. Symptoms can include some or all the following: nasal congestion, nasal drainage, throat drainage, facial pressure, facial pain, fever, cough, loss of smell, ear pressure, ear pain, tooth pain and headache. The color of the drainage (yellow, green or brown) doesn’t indicate whether the infection is viral or bacterial. Symptoms can last 1-3 weeks. Severe fever over 102 degrees F or pus drainage indicates a need to contact your doctor.

Since most sinus infections are caused by viruses, it may be unnecessary to prescribe antibiotics for this condition. However, every patient is different so if your symptoms are worsening, feel free to contact us. Medications such as Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and those listed above for colds can be helpful. Ask us if you have any concerns about medications. If a medicine like Afrin is used, please be cautious and only use it for 2-3 days at most.

Again, preventing infection is best done with hand washing and avoiding those who are ill.


The flu (influenza) can cause quick onset of symptoms within hours compared to the gradual onset of a cold. Symptoms can include abrupt onset of fever, headache, severe muscles aches and tiredness. It can also include cold symptoms such as cough, sore throat and runny nose. Symptoms generally last less than 1 week. The flu can be very severe and sometimes requires hospitalization.

There is prescription medication to treat the flu. It is recommended for specific populations including adults over age 65, residents of a nursing home, patients with certain chronic conditions, patients who require hospitalization and pregnant women. The medication should be started within the first 48 hours of the illness.

Prevention is best done by hand washing and avoiding those who are ill. A flu vaccine can also be helpful in preventing illness.

We hope this information has been helpful! Stay healthy!!

You Might Also Enjoy...

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update!

Weekly update with Dr. Manning on local transmission, reviewing the criteria for opening our state, updates on testing and much more!

Coronavirus Update!

As you are aware, this is a constantly evolving situation. We are doing our best to provide the most up-to-date information for our patients and our community in order to keep everyone safe and healthy!