Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Medically, what I am about to say is of no importance. Your symptoms may vary.
Stage 1: Sometimes a little scratch on the throat, similar to having been in a very smoky room for a while. Other times it is simply a small feeling deep between my ears and eyes that screams "SOMETHING ISN'T QUITE RIGHT HERE!"
Stage 2: The ears begin to ring. The notes vary...perhaps some day I will be able to read how major this infection will be based on the note it plays in my head. However, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather someone else do that research.
Stage 3: Swallowing my own saliva feels like I'm swallowing gravel, or, if the origination is in the head, exposure to light makes my retinas feel as if they are on a slow burn. Drainage begins to collect in the back of the throat, waiting until I am driving down the highway at 65 mph without a spittoon before deciding that it's time to leave the body.
Stage 4: The faucet is stuck open. I do not know where the controls to this faucet are, but the infection does. It begins with a nagging, constant sniffle, and progresses until it is difficult to perform any tasks lasting longer than 10 or 15 seconds without stopping to sop up. If a ready supply of absorbent material (Kleenex with lotion being such preferred material) is not kept handy, then add cleaning up the drips from the table, desk, book, or carpet. This stage typically lasts for one complete box of Kleenex with lotion.
Stage 5: The booger factory is open for business. That which did not choose to run out of the nose or fall down the throat collects into super-sized, fluorescent green blobs or crustations, waiting to peek out of the nostril until shortly after you've looked in the mirror. But they're really cool, and you feel a lot of relief when they're gone.
Stage 6: A peeling party. Two or three layers of skin around the nose decide that it is a gross place to live, so they begin to molt. If you exhale deeply they will fly across your desk, or look like dandruff on your shirt. If you try to hurry the process along they will bleed and sting, thus getting the last word regardless of your efforts. Lotion is of minimal aid as the skin has already made up its mind it is moving out to return to dust and be reincarnated in a less-infected body.
Stage 7: Taste and smell are restored. Eyes no longer squint. Ear ringing returns to pianissimo level. Life is good.
Until next time.