The well-known expression “if a runny nose is treated, it goes away in a week, and if not treated, in seven days” actually has nothing to do with reality. A runny nose must be treated, otherwise it is fraught with dangerous complications. When is it time to see a doctor?
Aif.ru told infectious disease specialist, candidate of medical sciences, chief physician of the clinical diagnostic laboratory Andrey Pozdnyakov.
If a runny nose is not treated, then firstly, nasal congestion can become permanent. In addition, a runny nose often gives complications “on the ears” and inflammatory processes in various parts of the hearing apparatus – otitis media, eustachitis, etc. can be a consequence of it.
When the process passes from the nasal mucosa to the mucosa of the ducts of the lacrimal glands, inflammation of the lacrimal ducts and the lacrimal sac occurs – dacryocystitis.
One of the most frequent and dangerous complications is sinusitis, inflammation of the paranasal sinuses: frontal, sphenoid, ethmoidal (ethmoid sinuses) and, most often, maxillary sinuses. And untreated or improperly treated sinusitis can turn into an inflammatory process of brain structures, more often meninges (meningitis, arachnoiditis).
Often, rhinitis passes to the underlying parts of the respiratory system: laryngitis and pharyngitis – inflammation of the mucous membrane of the pharynx and larynx.
It is also possible to spread the infectious process to the lower respiratory tract with the development of bronchitis or pneumonia.
How to treat a runny nose and what will happen if treated incorrectly
Improper treatment of the common cold is also fraught with complications. For example, the untimely administration of antimicrobial drugs for bacterial acute respiratory infections can lead to the fact that bacteria enter other parts of the respiratory tract, which will aggravate the process.
Unnecessary prescription of antibiotics for viral rhinitis, on the contrary, often leads to local immunosuppression (decrease in the activity of local immunity), which causes so-called iatrogenic (caused by inadequate therapy) complications.
For example, prolonged and uncontrolled intake of vasoconstrictor drops (xylometazoline, oxymetazoline) is fraught with the development of “naphthyzine addiction” – a condition when a person cannot do without the constant use of vasoconstrictor drops. This condition is treated by otolaryngologists, but it is rather difficult.
How to understand that the complications of a cold have begun
Symptoms of any incipient complication, most often bacterial, are a deterioration in the condition 4-7 days after the onset of rhinitis, increased intoxication, and fever.
Typical signs of incipient sinusitis are severe nasal congestion with scanty discharge from it, a sharp headache. Often – soreness when a person touches the face in the places where the sinuses are projected (maxillary – near the nose, frontal – in the superciliary region of the forehead).
Otitis and eustacheitis, in addition to the general intoxication syndrome, cause pain in the ears of varying intensity, a feeling of stuffiness in the ear and deterioration in hearing acuity.
All complications of the lower respiratory tract lead to the appearance or intensification of cough.
When should you see a doctor for a runny nose?
Anything that is atypical for a common cold requires a doctor’s examination. For example, long-lasting old or the appearance of new symptoms that were not present at the onset of the disease, a prolonged rise in temperature or its appearance “in the middle of the disease”, pain in the ears, head or in the area of the paranasal sinuses, frequent cough with deterioration in the course of treatment.
Any worsening of the condition after 3-4 days after the onset of the disease should alert.
How can complications be avoided? Maintain an adequate level of immunity – get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, try not to be nervous. In the presence of chronic diseases – try to prevent their exacerbations.