'Tis the Season for Colds
If you have a toothache this flu season, don't automatically assume there's a dentist's drill in your future. The pain you feel might be the inflammation of your sinus lining or a symptom of sinusitis. It's pretty common during cold and flu season, so it's important to be aware of the symptoms.
Sinuses are air chambers that rest behind your cheeks, eyebrows, and jaw bones. They have tiny hairs called cilia inside them which help to clean out mucus and keep these air chambers free of debris. When you get a cold or the flu, however, the chambers can get blocked with excess mucus. Then, bacteria begin to spread, which often results in illness. Since one of the air chambers is located above and behind the upper jaw, it can cause what seems like a serious toothache when in fact it is just sinus pain.
Increased sensitivity to all sinus areas is common, so if you suspect that you have symptoms of the flu – including a toothache, face pain or pressure in your sinus areas, weakness and fatigue, or a reduced sense of smell – contact your doctor. You may be able to use a nasal saline spray or over-the-counter drug, such as a decongestant, to clear your sinuses. Also, stop the spread of these germs by washing your hands regularly and using tissues to sneeze. A cold is one gift you definitely don't want to give – or receive – this holiday season.