“How do I know if my symptoms are related to a sinus infection or the Flu?”

By Dr. Melecio Medina, DHR Health Ear, Nose, and Throat Institute

It can be difficult to distinguish between the flu and sinusitis as the symptoms can be very similar. However, the treatment of the two conditions are different. Let us review the two types of illnesses and point out some key differences.

Sinusitis can be a viral, bacterial, or inflammatory illness. Common symptoms of sinusitis include: difficulty breathing through the nose, nasal congestion, facial pain or pressure, nasal drainage, loss of smell, and post nasal drip. More severe symptoms include facial swelling, eye swelling, or fever. Symptoms typically last greater than 10 days, at which point the patient should seek medical treatment from a doctor. Treatment consists of nasal sprays, oral antihistamines, and antibiotics. When sinus symptoms last more than a few weeks this can be considered a form of chronic sinusitis. Many patients in south Texas suffer from chronic sinusitis and have nasal symptoms with facial pain for months at a time. This type of sinusitis is treatable by an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. Treatments include medications or minimally invasive procedures such as balloon sinuplasty or endoscopic sinus surgery. Recovery from these procedures is quick with minimal downtime. Patients feel and breathe significantly better after treatment.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms of the flu include: nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and runny nose. Some of the more severe symptoms include fever and shortness of breath. Treatment for the flu is often supportive therapy as well as an anti-viral medication known as Tamiflu. Tamiflu is a prescription medication that should be taken within 48 hours of symptom onset. When patients develop shortness of breath they should seek attention from a doctor immediately. Most primary care physicians and urgent care centers can administer a flu test to confirm the diagnosis and initiate treatment.

If you or someone you know would like more information on a sinuplasty, please call the DHR Health Ear, Nose, and Throat Institute at (956) 362-8125.