People often act as though a common cold is no big deal, declaring that it’s “just the sniffles.” However, you might be surprised to learn that simple sniffles can turn into something far more dangerous. If you or someone you care about have the sniffles, it’s nothing to ignore. Read on to learn more about what causes the sniffles, how it can become more severe, and what you should do about it.

What Are Sniffles

When you have the sniffles, you’re actually experiencing a condition called rhinitis. Rhinitis can occur as a response to allergens or due to an infection, but if you have a common cold, that’s the infectious variety. The infectious variety of rhinitis inflames the sinuses, resulting in congestion, a running nose, or both.

What Sniffles Can Become

The infectious variety of rhinitis can potentially become something much more severe. Infectious rhinitis can be caused by bacteria or a virus, and that illness can potentially spread. The infected fluid in your nose often drains down through your esophagus and into your lungs. When this happens, the infection can spread into your lungs, resulting in pneumonia.

Whether it’s bacterial or viral, pneumonia is a dangerous illness that can be difficult to beat, especially if the victim is very young or old.

Getting Treatment

If you have the sniffles, you should consider seeing a doctor for it. Doctors can diagnose whether or not it’s viral or bacterial in nature, and they can take a sample to determine if the pathogen behind your illness is dangerous. If need be, they may prescribe antibiotics to stop the illness before it can spread to your lungs. If it already has, a full course of antibiotics or antivirals may be required in order to beat the pneumonia.

Even if your doctor doesn’t prescribe an antibiotic, they may be able to help you improve your symptoms. Steroid nasal sprays are often prescribed by doctors to help open up the sinuses and to slow the flow of nasal discharge. This may help to prevent the infection from going to your lungs, and it will help you to blow your nose more easily, getting the mucus out.

People often get the sniffles without it evolving into a more serious illness, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore this symptom. If you have the sniffles and you think it might be a cold, go see a doctor, such as those at Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center PS, to prevent it from becoming something far worse.