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Can A Sinus Infection Cause Flu Like Symptoms

About Author: David Pruitt

Cold or sinus infection? Local pediatrician goes over the symptoms between the two

David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelors of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014. An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.

Common Signs Of A Sinus Infection

A sinus infection can feel like a stuffy nose that is not getting better. Sinusitis happens when your sinuses become inflamed and fill with fluid that becomes infected. Viruses or bacteria most commonly cause them. AFC Urgent Care North Andover can provide you with a diagnosis and proper treatment of sinus infections. Learn more about the general illnesses we can diagnose and treat here.

Sinus Infection And Flu Like Symptoms

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Cold Flu And Allergy Treatments

Millions of people use over-the-counter products to relieve symptoms of cold, flu, and allergy, including nasal stuffiness and congestion, sneezing, runny noses, sore throat, and cough. The common causes of these symptoms include the viruses that cause the common cold, influenza virus, allergic rhinitis , and sinus infections . Viral infections can also cause headache, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes fever. Hay fever symptoms can also include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, and watery eyes.

To benefit from OTC products for cold, flu, and allergy, it is important to understand the condition causing the symptoms, the predominant symptom one wishes to relieve, and the active ingredient in the product. Some OTC products contain a single active ingredient medication to relieve one symptom. Many others contain a combination of two, three, and even four active ingredient medications to treat several symptoms at once. Selecting the right product can be difficult at times.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection Vs A Cold

6 Symptoms of Sinusitis Infection: Treating a Sinus Infection

While the symptoms may be similarrunny nose, headache, fatiguethere are some differences between the two conditions that can help you determine which one you have.

The main difference between the symptoms of a cold and sinus infection is how long they linger. Dr. Bhattacharyya says cold sufferers typically have a runny nose for two to three days, followed by a stuffy nose for two to three days. After that, most people begin to feel better. The CDC notes that the following symptoms are common with colds:

  • Sneezing
  • Mucus dripping down your throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Fever

Alternately, sinus infections usually last a bit longer than a common cold, and may hang around for seven days or more. A fever may also signal a bacterial infection. As Lord can attest, sinus infections are sometimes accompanied by a low-grade fever, while colds typically are not. Other viruses do cause fevers, however. Heres what the CDC says about the other symptoms of sinus infections:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Bad breath

Another potentially helpful sign is the color of your nasal discharge. Unlike colds, which generally produce clear mucus, bacterial infections can produce greenish or yellow mucus. However, viruses sometimes produce colorful discharge as well, so this isnt considered a fail-safe test.

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How Long Does Loss Of Taste And Smell Last With A Sinus Infection

As we mentioned, your sense of taste is heavily linked to your sense of smell. Usually, a loss of taste is actually a loss of smell presenting itself elsewhere. Luckily, loss of taste from a sinus infection usually subsides when the infection itself clears up.

The tricky thing is that sinus infections can be chronic. A chronic sinus infection requires treatment that is more involved than using a nasal rinse or antibiotics. Chronic sinusitis complications can require much more immediate medical attention and cause permanent damage to your sense of taste and smell if left untreated.

The chronic inflammation experienced with a sinus infection can also cause swollen nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths that appear in the nose, increasing your risk of rhinitis, sinus infections, bad allergies, and of course, a loss of taste and smell. If you have been experiencing chronic sinusitis symptoms seek medical attention and schedule an appointment to see an ENT as soon as possible.

Is It Sinusitis Allergies Or The Flu

David Gerson, MD

Often it can be difficult to tell the difference but there are clues that can help you and your doctor tell which one is causing your symptoms. Its important to figure out which one it is because while many of the treatments are the same there are several that are different.

Allergies are associated with sneezing, runny nose, nasal obstruction, and itching of the eyes, nose, and throat. It is also frequently associated with postnasal drip, cough, irritability, and fatigue. Allergies recur, you dont get a fever and antibiotics will do absolutely nothing to help and in fact could make things worse.

There are seasonal and year-round allergies. These are usually easy to tell apart by their frequency of symptoms. Examples of seasonal would be ragweed in the fall, trees in late winter early spring. Year-round allergies are often caused by animals such as cats and irritants in the home like house dust and molds. A good history taken by your doctor can often narrow the list of culprits but if you are having symptoms frequently and want to really narrow them down you can get allergy tested using a skin scratch test or lab testing on your blood. These are very helpful if you are considering allergy treatments to build a resistance to the allergens causing your symptoms.

Common symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Stuffy or blocked nose
  • Thick yellow or green discharge from the nose
  • Pain in the teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Feeling tired

Some signs you might need antibiotics are:

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Is It The Flu Or A Sinus Infection

December 29, 2017 By Will Sowards

The cold, winter months are inevitably upon us.

Unfortunately, this means the onset of the cold and flu season. Some people are also prone to sinus infections during the wintertime. Winter proves to be the premier time for individuals to get sick more easily. This can be chalked up to many reasons, like the cold weather or close quarters indoors to avoid that weather.

Approximately 5-20 percent of the United States population gets sick with the flu virus every year, while millions of others in the country are diagnosed with sinus infections.

Both diseases have similar symptoms, making it difficult to tell the difference between the two until youve become more ill. So, how can you be sure if youre in the early stages of the flu or a nasty sinus infection?

Here are some telltale signs and symptoms that distinguish the two illnesses:

Can Sinus Infections Cause Neck Pain And Stiffness

Sinus Infections: Symptoms may be more than just allergies

A sinus infection may not affect all the sinus chambers. Some sinus infections create pain around the eye sockets, while infections in other chambers can cause sinus neck pain. Sinus pain from a sinus infection is typically worse in the morning, making it difficult for people to begin their day.

Most neck pain from a sinus infection is caused by inflammation or an infection of the sinus cavities behind the eyes. Its important to monitor these illnesses, as an infection in this particular area is more likely to spread to the brain.

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Sinus Infection Vs Cold: How To Tell The Difference

June 14, 2021 Written by: Michael Menachof Categories: Sinus

Dr. Menachof, MD, has specialized in conditions around the head, throat, ear, nose, neck and face for over 20 years, and was the first to bring sublingual allergy drops to Colorado in 2005. He has been recognized as a Fellow by multiple academies, named one of Americas Top Facial Plastic Surgeons continually since 2003 and is featured in multiple national publications.

When youre feeling sick, it can be tough to tell whether you are struggling with a sinus infection or simply have the common cold. The symptoms of these conditions can be very similar, but there are important differences between the two and they must be treated differently in order for you to find relief.

Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp

Your GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:

  • steroid nasal sprays or drops – to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
  • antihistamines – if an allergy is causing your symptoms
  • antibiotics – if bacterial infection, very unwell or at risk of complications

You often do not need antibiotics as sinusitis is usually caused by a virus.

You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.

Your GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if:

  • these medicines don’t help with your sinusitis
  • your sinusitis has lasted longer than 3 months
  • you keep getting sinusitis

They may also recommend surgery in some cases.

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Discharge From The Nose Or In The Throat

The most noticeable symptom of a sinus infection is the presence of discharge from the nose. This sign is similar to what you would experience with a regular cold or seasonal flu. The mucus from your sinuses may also drip down the back of your throat .

The color of the discharge may help you identify whether youre experiencing a common cold or a sinus infection. The former will often cause nasal mucus that is watery and clear or cloudy. The latter often comes with mucus that has a green or yellow tint. The discoloration is not a product of the bacteria itself. Instead, it is a result of your immune system fighting the infection by increasing white blood cells.

When Should I Call The Doctor About My Cold Or The Flu

When a Cold Becomes a Sinus Infection

If a person develops troublebreathing, has a severe sore throat, has a cough that produces green-colored mucus, has chest pain, or develops a high and persistent fever, that person should be seen by their doctor. If you suspect you have the flu and are pregnant, are over 50, have a weakened immune system for any reason, or have ongoing medical problems such as diabetes, you are at higher risk for developing complications due to the flu and should contact your physician. If you have a child under 2 years of age or have a friend or relative living in long-term care facility with flu-like symptoms, their doctors need to be notified.

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Throat Irritation And Cough

As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.

It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.

Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection

A few symptoms set a sinus infection apart from influenza and other common winter ailments, like a cold. One is the quality of mucous that you end up with when you have sinusitis. When theres an issue with the sinuses, the mucous is usually thick and green or yellow. Its also common for people with sinusitis to have post-nasal drip and to feel constantly stuffed up and congested.

The built-up mucous and congestion can also lead to facial pain and sinus headaches. You might feel an intense pressure behind your eyes and forehead. Although people with sinus infections might feel a bit tired because they have trouble sleeping, they usually dont have the fatigue thats associated with the flu. Sinusitis also doesnt typically cause fevers.

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Taking The Right Medication For The Right Illness

The best thing to do for cold or sinus symptoms during the first seven to 10 days is to treat the symptoms, not the illness. You can do this with medications such as:

  • Cough medicine
  • Pain reliever

Cold viruses dont respond to antibiotics, so taking them during the first seven days probably wont help. In fact, taking antibiotics when theyre not needed can increase your risk for being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other serious antibiotic related problems.

After seven to 10 days, when the symptoms are more likely to indicate a sinus infection, it may be time to ask your doctor about antibiotics. However, sinus infections can and do sometimes go away on their own, just like colds. Ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic or if the infection is likely to go away on its own without medication.

If your symptoms point to allergies, many effective medications are available over the counter to control symptoms, such as antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. These medications work on all sorts of allergies because they suppress the bodys reactions to allergens, rather than treating the specific allergen. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, however, so be cautious of that when taking them. They also do not help stuffiness or pressure symptoms, so adding a decongestant plus a pain reliever as needed can help you ride it out.

Is It A Sinus Infection Or Cold

How Can I Tell The Difference Between A Cold And A Sinus Infection?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a sinus infection and a cold as the symptoms can be very similar. Sinus infections often develop after a cold.

Sinusitis tends to last longer than a cold. Cold symptoms tend to get steadily worse, peaking at 35 days, then gradually get better. Sinus infections may last 10 days or more.

Some symptoms are more likely to be caused by sinusitis than a cold, including:

  • swelling of the tissue in the nose
  • green discharge from the nose
  • a swollen or tender face

Unlike a cold, sinusitis can become chronic, which means it lasts longer than eight weeks. Chronic sinusitis causes swelling and irritation in the sinuses and usually develops after a person has had acute sinusitis. Sometimes the symptoms go away and then come back again.

Ongoing sinus symptoms even if they get better and then come back may indicate chronic sinusitis.

Sinus infections often go away on their own without medical treatment. There are, however, some things a person can do at home to relieve the bothersome symptoms.

To treat sinusitis symptoms with home remedies , try:

Avoid using decongestants on a long-term basis without talking to a doctor first because they can make congestion worse if used for too long.

  • symptoms last longer than 10 days with no improvement
  • fever lasts longer than 3-4 days
  • the pain is very intense
  • a person with a suspected sinus infection has a drugs that suppress the immune system, or organ failure

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Sinus Infection Versus Cold: How To Tell The Difference

When it comes to the battle between a sinus infection vs. cold, knowing which one you have is tricky. Dr. Woodard suggests that you consider these questions to tell the difference between the two:

  • How long have you had symptoms? Cold symptoms typically peak after three to five days and then improve over the next week. A sinus infection can stick around longer, though. If you have a runny nose, stuffy nose or sinus pressure that lasts for more than 10 days, suspect an infection.
  • Do you have sinus pressure? If you have persistent facial pain, pressure or tenderness, you may have a sinus infection.
  • What color is your discharge? If you have clear mucous, you probably have a cold. If you have yellow or green mucous, its probably a sinus infection.
  • Do you have bad breath? If your breath has you reaching for a piece of gum, you could have a sinus infection.
  • Other symptoms of a sinus infection may include loss of smell and taste, cough, congestion, fever, headache, fatigue or aches in your upper jaw and teeth.

    Diagnosing A Sinus Infection

    To diagnose a sinus infection, your doctor will feel for tenderness in your nose and face. They will also look inside your nose and can usually make a diagnosis based on a physical exam. To visually inspect your sinuses, the doctor may use a nasal endoscopy, where they insert a thin, flexible tube into your nostril.

    For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend imaging studies like a CT scan. These are less common and typically only used when the doctor suspects complications or abnormalities. If you have chronic sinus infections, your doctor may want to examine your sinuses for deformities or damage.

    To diagnose a sinus infection, your doctor will feel for tenderness in your nose and face. They will also look inside your nose and can usually make a diagnosis based on a physical exam.

    If the treatment for your sinus infection doesnt seem to be working or if the infection comes back, the doctor may take tissue samples from your nose and sinus cavities. While lab tests arent generally necessary for an initial diagnosis, these cultures may help a doctor check for indications of a more severe bacterial infection.

    If your persistent sinus infections arent caused by damage or deformity to the sinuses themselves, you may be referred to an allergist for allergy testing to help pinpoint the allergens responsible and help you avoid them or take medications to control the reactions.

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