When you get a head cold, does it usually turn into bronchitis, a sinus infection, or an ear infection? Well, guess what: You have a 12 hour window from the moment the sniffly, sneezy, scratchy-throat feeling starts to keep your cold from turning into something worse. This comes from MSN Health, and immunology expert, Dr. Gailen D. Marshall.

  • First, to prevent your cold from turning into a sinus or ear infection: Make sure you can breathe through your nose, because sinuses clogged with mucus are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. Dr. Marshall recommends a decongestant or a nasal spray, but don’t use a spray for more than three days or it can cause “rebound” congestion – where your nose stuffs up again a few hours after every use.
  • Also, to keep your sinuses clear: Drink hot beverages, take hot, steamy showers, and consider using an antihistamine, which cuts the amount of mucus released by your nasal cavities in half.
  • Another way to keep your cold from becoming a sinus infection: Learn how to blow your nose properly. If you blow too hard, it can spread infection-causing bacteria throughout your sinuses.
  • So, what’s the right way to blow your nose? Put a tissue over your nose, close one nostril, and gently blow the other side for five seconds. Then switch back and forth four or five times to clear your sinuses.
  • So, how can you keep your cold from becoming an ear infection? Don’t pop your ears! If your ears need to pop, it means your ear canals are swollen shut, creating an area of negative air pressure inside. Popping your ears may pull virus-filled mucus into your inner ear, where it’ll get trapped, and cause an infection.
  • Finally, to keep your cold from turning into bronchitis: Steer clear of cigarettes, candles, fireplaces, spray cleaners, and air fresheners.  They all contain chemicals that can irritate your lungs, and make them prime targets for infection-causing bacteria.