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Lingering Cold Symptoms May Mean Sinusitis

Common wintertime problem stems from blocked sinus cavities

SATURDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- If a stuffy nose and headache persist for more than a week, you may have sinusitis, which often results from the common cold.

Each year, about 31 million Americans develop sinusitis, which results in 18 million physician visits and $5.8 billion in overall health costs, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. People with allergies are more likely to develop sinusitis, which is most common in the winter months.

"Early on, the symptoms of colds and sinusitis are similar," Dr. Anju Peters, chairman of the academy's rhino-sinusitis committee, said in a news release. "But if symptoms are worsening after three to five days, or if they are present for more than 10 days, then sinusitis is the likely culprit."

Sinusitis occurs when cold- or allergy-related inflammation causes blockage of the sinus cavities, hollow areas behind the forehead and cheeks. The blockage prevents normal drainage of mucus, a situation that leads to infection. Symptoms of sinusitis include green or gray nasal discharge, foul tasting post-nasal drip, facial pain or pressure, and light fever.

If not properly treated, sinusitis can last for months or even years. Typical treatment includes antibiotics to deal with the infection and decongestants to relieve stuffiness.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sinusitis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, December, 2008

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