MDH Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialist Dr. Jeffrey Sparks Talks Illnesses and Toll Weather Patterns Have on Sinuses


In the heart of flu season, McDonough District Hospital Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialist Dr. Jeffrey Sparks says Influenza A has been a main culprit in the local area and in some cases, symptoms are lingering well past the so called normal ten-day span, or even progressing into an ear infection or sinusitis:

“Once you have an upper respiratory illness and you get inflammation in the area, even if it starts as a virus, that virus is going to cause the respiratory epithelium, which is the lining, to get inflamed and then that is an access for bacteria that is already there to start an infection. Even your middle ear, which is then connected to the back of your nose, and so then you can end up having ear infections. If you are coughing a lot, specifically, or with any infection in the back of your throat, your tonsil area, you can end up with an ear infection with it as well. Anything from sinuses that cause drainage can cause a cough as well. It is all related and it just depends on which bacteria it is and how susceptible you are to it.”

Dr. Sparks advises seeking medical attention from your primary care doctor if symptoms continue to worsen or are lasting longer than the ten days. If symptoms are not getting better once being treated, seeing a specialist would be the next step.

Meanwhile, with the experienced change of weather patterns in the Midwest, Dr. Jeffrey Sparks says the changes do in fact play a toll on someone’s sinuses and illnesses:

“Specifically with your sinuses, people can have a lot of pressure with the fluctuation in the weather. And so, if you have this inflammation associated with it in your sinuses, which your sinuses are actually a cave in the bone, and if they do not have an outlet, the opening to the sinuses is not open, then a change in air pressure can really lead to a lot of facial pressure. That can be a big problem that I see a lot in my office. As far as the actual illness and the bacteria itself, when we have a change in weather and we are all huddled together inside, then the bacteria we tend to pass is back and forth. When it is summertime, it’s nice and we get to spread out and we go outside, then we don’t tend to have as many of the illnesses.”

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