By Dr. Peter Kadile
Dear Dr. Kadile, my doctor recently diagnosed me with sinusitis and prescribed antibiotics. I have family coming to visit for the holidays, am I contagious?
Jack, Palm Desert
Jack, sinusitis will generally start out as a cold or upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. The infection may cause obstruction in the sinuses causing headaches, sinus pressure and congestion, post nasal drip and ear pressure. If it is a cold, generally the symptoms will resolve in 1-2 weeks, but if the sinus obstruction persists, it may allow the development of a bacterial infection in addition to the viral infection. Since your doctor prescribed antibiotics, he believes you have a bacterial sinusitis. The bacteria involved are usually commonly found in the nose and are not considered highly contagious. A cold or viral upper respiratory infection is considered contagious.
Hey Doc, I just got over a cold. How long does it take before I’m not contagious?
Janet, La Quinta
Janet, a person who has a cold is considered to be contagious a day before he/she develops symptoms and then for another 5-7 days. For someone who has the flu virus, he/she is generally considered contagious a day before symptoms develop and then for another 1-2 weeks. Cold and flu viruses are spread by droplets from sneezing and coughing.
Hello Doctor, my friend uses a Neti Pot to clear her congestion when she has a cold. Do those really work?
Kristen, Rancho Mirage
The Neti Pot is an over the counter irrigation device that is usually ceramic or plastic and looks like a small teapot. The device is filled with a saline solution and then poured into one of your nostrils which then irrigates your sinuses. Nasal irrigation does relieve congestion and I frequently recommend using a Neti Pot. Patients will frequently comment that the Neti Pot was a miracle cure after using it.
Dr. Kadile, how come I always get a yeast infection after I’ve taken antibiotics?
Doris, Sun City
Doris, antibiotics are beneficial when treating a bacterial infection, but in addition to killing off the offending bacteria, antibiotics also can kill the “good” bacteria in your body. Use of antibiotics can alter the flora or environment in your vagina thus making it susceptible for the growth of yeast. As I’ve said in the past, antibiotics are not benign drugs and should be used only when necessary.