ZocdocAnswersIs clear changed to yellow nasal discharge good or bad? How can I relieve ear pressure?

Question

Is clear changed to yellow nasal discharge good or bad? How can I relieve ear pressure?

I've been sick for almost 7 days. I've been very congested. I've been taking over the counter medicine to try and help relieve my congestion. My ear pressure is horrible and my nasal discharge has turned from clear to yellow...is the nasal discharge a sign that my cold is getting worse or better? And is there something I can do to relieve my ear pressure?

Answer

Sorry to hear about your suffering. The best thing to do is to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Sinus infections, and any infection or illness of the upper respiratory tract, can be a miserable thing to experience because of the fact that it seems to take over your every thought. With regards to your question, there has been some research that seems to indicate that the color of the drainage (green vs yellow, for example) is not overly specific for determining the cause of an infection. That being said, most ear nose and throat surgeons (AKA ENT AKA otolaryngology-head and neck surgeons) will tell you that discolored mucous in some people can be a sign of a bacterial infection (although it is not the only sign, obviously). In general, most upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses and will persist for a few days. Most doctors agree that it is best for most people not to begin antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections until at least 5 days have passed, unless there are extenuating circumstances. You have already passed that point, and so it makes sense for you to speak with your doctor about your persistent symptoms and perhaps get some relief. Please speak with your doctor.

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