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Sound Health Services

Common Winter Ear, Nose and Throat Infections

Cold Weather ENT InfectionsIt seems like every year as soon as cold weather sets in, many of us notice a sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough. Some illnesses are quite common during winter months and just need to run their course, but there are some that require medical attention. Read on to know which symptoms to look for and when you should call a doctor.

Common Cold

Colds are extremely common in winter, especially in children who are exposed to lots of germs in school. The average cold causes a buildup of mucus that results in a stuffy or runny nose, ear pressure, and a cough from drainage running down the back of the throat. Since a cold is viral, it can’t be cured by antibiotics but will go away on its own in 7-10 days, and is usually not severe enough to keep you from going to work or school. Cold symptoms include:

  • nasal congestion
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • low fever (in some cases)



The flu can knock you down quickly and leave you there for up to a week or longer. This no-cure virus attacks the respiratory system and causes more severe symptoms than a cold, making it hard to even get out of bed much less complete normal daily tasks. Influenza is highly contagious, so doctors recommend getting a flu shot each year to avoid becoming infected. While antibiotics don’t work, antiviral medications can shorten duration of symptoms by a day or two if you take them right away. Flu symptoms include:

  • high fever
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • headache
  • muscle aches


Strep Throat

If you have a severe sore throat that isn’t accompanied by cold symptoms, it may be caused by streptococcus – or strep throat. It’s a bacterial infection, and without antibiotics can lead to complications such as rheumatic fever, middle ear infections, abscess on the tonsils, and more. Your doctor can diagnose strep throat with a rapid strep swab and provide a prescription to cure the infection and avoid spreading it to others. Strep throat symptoms include:

  • fever of 101 or higher
  • severe sore throat
  • red, swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches on them
  • headache
  • stomach ache or vomiting
  • swollen lymph nodes



When you’ve had a cold but notice that respiratory symptoms are becoming more severe, it could be due to a bacterial infection called pneumonia. It causes fluid or pus to fill the air sacs in your lungs, resulting in a severe cough and trouble breathing. If not treated with antibiotics, it can lead to life-threatening complications especially in babies, young kids and seniors. Pneumonia symptoms include:

  • chest pain when breathing or coughing
  • a cough that produces thick phlegm
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • a high fever and chills (or a low body temperature for patients older than 65)
  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • shortness of breath


Avoid Common Winter Illnesses and Seek Medical Help from Sound Health ENT Doctors When Needed

Germs will always circulate quickly in colder months, but you should do all you can to prevent them from infecting your family. Remind everyone in your household to wash hands frequently, not to eat or drink after others, and to avoid being around others who are sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of strep throat, influenza or pneumonia, be sure to call us for an appointment at (314) 729-0077 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.