The response came from my primary doctor.
RE: Cold leading to ear ache
From: Doctor #1 MD
Received: 04/07/2011 1:36 PM
Doctor #2 and I are a bit confused as to who you identify as your Doc. Either way is fine but we request you only email one or the other to avoid confusion
Almost all of these illness are viral. Most take 5 -7 days for improvement and resolve on their own. Viruses do not respond to antibiotic. A true bacteria sinus infection is a secondary infection and actually a fairly unusual complication of a viral upper respiratory illness. These come on after 7 – 10 days. They are usually characterized by a cold which doesn’t improve after 7 -10 days or one that improves and then becomes worse.
Green or colored mucous is frequently seen in a viral illness, so we can’t differentiate viral from bacterial based on this.
I would suggest over the counter cold remedies and salt water nasal rinses. These are comfort measures and don’t speed up the recovery process, but can relieve some of the symptoms. Please inform patient to follow-up if any new symptoms, things worsen or fail to improve in the next 4 -5 days.