jan. 15 cold or bacterial infection

January 12, 2001

Is it a cold or an infection?

So, is it a cold or acute bacterial sinusitis - an infection that should be treated with antibiotics?

It's hard to tell.

The symptoms for both are similar, said Dr. Michael J. Saylor:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> stuffy nose

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> nasal discharge

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> facial pressure

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> sometimes a cough

It's an "old wives' tale" that green nasal discharge means an infection, Saylor said.

So what do you do?

Wait it out. For those with mild to moderate symptoms, Saylor said treatment can include:


HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> over-the-counter nasal sprays, oral decongestants

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> hot showers

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> chicken soup

A new nasal gel product containing zinc is available, Saylor said. He read a study that reported Zicam - that's the trade name - can reduce the duration of cold symptoms if used within a "day or so" of getting a cold.

If your symptoms get worse in five to seven days or you're not getting better in 10 days, see your doctor, Saylor advised, citing new guidelines issued by The Sinus and Allergy Health Partnership. The nonprofit organization, which includes representatives from otolaryngological and other medical specialty societies, Centers For Disease Control, and Food and Drug Administration, issued the guidelines to address the rise in bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

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