Thursday, April 11, 2024

Common Cold Versus Sinus Infection

How A Sinus Infection Happens

Whatâs the Difference Between Allergies, a Common Cold, and a Sinus Infection?

Colds can progress to become sinus infections, but not all sinus infections are viral. Bacteria and even allergies also can cause sinus infections.

A sinus infection occurs when the sinus lining becomes inflamed, preventing the sinuses from draining, he says. The trapped mucous becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a sinus infection.

Conditions that may make you more likely to get a sinus infection include:

Common Symptoms Of Colds Sinus Infections And Allergies

Many people have been told that the following symptoms are signs of a bacterial sinus infection as opposed to a cold:

  • Facial pain and headache
  • Discolored mucus or sinus drainage
  • Severe nasal congestion
  • Fever

But in reality, these symptoms dont help us distinguish one condition from the other, at least in the first week to 10 days. Generally speaking, all of the classic symptoms of a sinus infection can be present in a cold.

If youve had these symptoms for fewer than seven to 10 days, theyre almost certainly signs of a cold virus. When people have these symptoms for more than seven to 10 days without improvement, thats when we start thinking it might be a bacterial sinus infection. It is also very unusual for a cold, or other viral upper respiratory illness, to worsen after five days. This suggests a transition to a bacterial process. This is important because antibiotics should only be used when a bacterial process is suspected.

The symptoms of allergies dont normally include fever or a lot of discolored sinus drainage. Classic allergy symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Scratchy or low-grade sore throat
  • Sneezing

Some of these are similar to cold or sinus symptoms. The difference is that allergy symptoms dont follow the course of a cold, which runs through its symptoms as the cold progresses. Allergy symptoms are more consistent than cold symptoms. There is often a pattern to the symptoms related to a change in the indoor or outdoor environment .

How Is Each Condition Diagnosed

A common cold can usually be diagnosed with a standard physical examination and a review of symptoms. Your doctor may perform a rhinoscopy if they suspect a sinus infection.

During a rhinoscopy, your doctor will insert an endoscope gently into your nose and sinus cavity so they can look at the lining of your sinuses. An endoscope is a thin tube that has a light at one end and either has a camera or an eyepiece to look through.

If your doctor thinks an allergy is causing your sinus inflammation, they may recommend an allergy skin test to help identify the allergen causing your symptoms.

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About Author: Lisa Coon

Lisa Coon is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since August 2016. A Peoria native, she is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in journalism. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at several newspapers in Iowa and Illinois.She lives in Groveland with her husband and son. In her free time she likes to cook, bake and read. She freely admits that reality TV is a weakness, and she lives by the quote, The beach is good for the soul.

What Is A Common Cold

When a Cold Becomes a Sinus Infection

Colds are caused by viruses, most often rhinovirus. These viruses infect the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs, causing a variety of respiratory symptoms. In some people, colds will advance into other conditions, such as a sinus infection, bronchitis, or pneumonia.

The main symptoms of a cold are:

  • Runny nose with clear discharge

  • Headache

  • Sneezing

  • Body aches

Most people recover within about a week, but those with asthma, respiratory conditions, or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to having colds that cause more serious health problems.

Residents of Plano,TX should visit Dr. Ranjan at Nest Family Medicine to help manage their chronic health conditions.

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Sinus Infection Treatment And Sinus Pressure Relief

If youre suffering from a short bout of sinusitis which is inflammation of the sinuses from a cold or allergies, but not necessarily infection there are several things you can do at home to ease your sinus pressure symptoms. Use over-the-counter decongestants and saline nose spray to open up the nasal passages. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide relief from sinus pain as well.However, if your symptoms last more than a few days you should see a doctor for evaluation and treatment. If your cold or sinusitis has developed into a bacterial sinus infection, you may need antibiotics to treat it. Both adults and children can receive care for sinus infections at any of our PhysicianOne Urgent Care centers in Connecticut, Massachusetts or New York, 365 days per year. You can even check in online now at the center nearest you for a convenient appointment with minimal time in the waiting room.

Dos And Donts For Common Cold

  • The fever and cold can result in severe fatigue. Depending on how tired you are, make sure you take enough rest and sleep well.
  • Eat healthy and hot foods. Consequently, avoid cold foods of any kind.
  • Stay happy and cheerful keep yourself distracted to help clear your mind.
  • Do not exercise too much. Let your body recover completely.
  • Do not ride or drive as the cold and any medicines put together can make you really drowsy.

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How Are Sinus Infections And Common Colds Different

Though they are similar, there are some important areas of overlap that can help you tell the difference between a sinus infection and a cold.

One of the biggest signals is the length of time youve been sick. While colds can last a week or more, they usually come on quickly, with symptoms that peak after a few days and then begin to go away. Sinus infections, on the other hand, can linger. So, if youve had a runny nose or sinus pressure thats been around for more than a week, a sinus infection is probably the culprit.

Another major indicator is the nature of your pain. If youre experiencing facial pain or you feel pressure in your sinuses, that leans toward sinus infection rather than a cold. When you blow your nose, note the color of any discharge because that can also help determine the nature of your illness. Clear mucus is typically related to a cold, while yellow or green mucus is more indicative of a sinus infection.

Finally, another important reason why your team at Nest Family Medicine will need to understand your symptoms in detail is that treatment for sinus infections and colds can vary. Sinus infections caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics, while viral sinus infections and common colds cant be cured directly. Treatment of viral infections focuses on relieving symptoms rather than curing the virus.

What Are The Symptoms And Treatments For A Sinus Infection

Cold or sinus infection?

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, is a condition in which the delicate membranes that line the sinuses may get swollen and become red. Sinusitis may be caused by allergies, viruses, bacteria, or rarely a fungus. A bacterial sinus infection has the most severe symptoms. Very few cold symptoms can turn into sinus infections. Common symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Persistent bad breath along with cold symptoms
  • A cough that lasts more than 10 days without improving
  • Persistent fever
  • Pressure or pain between or around the eyes
  • A severe headache that is felt behind or around the eyes that worsens on bending over
  • Pain in the teeth of the upper jaw that may feel like a toothache

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How Are Sinus Infections Treated

Many sinus infections caused by a virus will resolve on their own without any treatment with antibiotics, Melinda said. This is important because if you dont need antibiotics, its better not to take them as they can cause side effects and long-term resistance. An infection caused by bacteria, however, will likely require antibiotics.

Sometimes your health care provider may ask you to take over-the-counter medications to help your symptoms and monitor your condition further.

Examples of over-the-counter medication include:

  • Saline nasal spray
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief
  • A warm compress on your nose and forehead to relieve sinus pressure

Signs Of A Sinus Infection

Your sinuses are small spaces behind your cheekbones, nose and in your forehead above your eyes. They produce a thin liquid called mucus that protects the body from infections by trapping and moving germs away and out of the body. Extra mucus is common when you have a cold or allergies, but if the buildup of germs and mucus becomes too thick it may lead to a bacterial or viral infection.

Here are six signs of a sinus infection to look out for:

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Start Treating Your Symptoms Right Away

Since viruses cant be cured, treating colds is primarily aimed at improving symptoms.

Its important to remember that with colds and other viruses, taking an antibiotic wont help you feel better any faster, says Dr. Woodard. In fact, taking an antibiotic unnecessarily can do more harm than good.

The overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which can make subsequent infections more difficult to treat.

Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and rinse out your sinuses with saline irrigation, which can help thin mucous and flush it from your nasal cavity, he says.

Symptoms Of Sinus Infection

Is it a Cold or a Sinus Infection?

The most prominent indicator of sinus infections is that the symptoms do not respond to OTC drugs and persist for more than a week. They last well beyond 10 days. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Facial pain and headache, which increase if you lower your head
  • Toothache
  • A reduced sense of smell
  • Yellow or greenish mucus from the nose and throat

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Sinus Infection And Common Cold

Sinus infection refers to an inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, and the sinuses. Also known as sinusitis, this condition can be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis occurs suddenly, and does not last for more than about eight weeks. Chronic form is the most bothersome, as it develops gradually over time, and lasts for more than eight weeks. It is known to be the most common type of sinus infection, and in most cases, it is incurable.

Cold, one of the most common illnesses, refers to an infection of the upper respiratory tract. This condition is usually harmless, and resolves within a week or two.

Common cold is generally the result of a viral infection, while sinus infection generally occurs as a complication of common cold. It can also be caused by bacterial infection, fungal infection, allergies, tooth infection, deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps etc.

What Does A Cold Look Like

When you have a cold, this means your body is fighting off a viral infection in your upper respiratory system. There are over a hundred types of viruses that can cause the common cold, which is also known scientifically as rhinitis. These illnesses are spread either by exchanging contaminated water droplets in the air or by touching surfaces where the virus is lingering.

Most adults get between two to four mild colds per year, but certain factors such as smoking or a weakened immune system can increase your risk. The areas most affected by a cold are typically the nose, mouth, throat and lungs, but full body aches and other discomforts can also be experienced because of the virus. Cold symptoms often appear one to three days after exposure to the virus, and should resolve within 5 7 days.

Symptoms of the common cold often include:

  • Runny nose
  • Fever

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Cold Vs Flu Vs Sinus Infection: Which Is It

Typical cold symptoms include

  • Swollen sinuses, congestion, and mucus buildup
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Cold symptoms last for around a week, on average. Colds most often start with a sore throat , followed by nasal and congestion issues. A cough often comes after, around the fourth or fifth day. Children are more likely to develop a fever with a cold, but adults can develop a slight one. Colds are contagious during the first few days and are less severe than other infections like the flu.

How to treat it: A cold is a virus, so it cant be treated by antibiotics. Over-the-counter medications can help alleviate symptoms, like a headache or congestion. Plenty of rest and fluids will help your body recover. If you dont see symptomatic improvement after a week, you should see your physician to ascertain whether you might need medical treatment for a different type of infection.

Typical flu symptoms include

  • Chest discomfort or cough
  • Sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose

While many colds will emerge gradually, the flu usually hits you like a ton of bricks. Soreness and muscles aches are common, as are headaches, high fevers, and general malaise.

Typical sinus infection symptoms include

  • Sinus pressure
  • Runny or stuffy nose for a prolonged period
  • Headache
  • Bad breath
  • Poor sense of smell

Taking The Right Medication For The Right Illness

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

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.

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Different Sniffles: Is It A Common Cold The Flu Or A Sinus Infection

Additional Authors: Leacey Brown

Its that time of year, where it seems like everywhere you turn everyone is coughing and sneezing. This year, it seems like were seeing a lot of headlines about the flu. The common cold, the flu, and sinus infection may seem like they have similar symptoms, but what is the difference between the three? Below is a chart so you can compare the similarities and differences between the symptoms.

Aching in Upper Teeth and Jaw
Drainage from the Nose or Throat
Low Grade

Is It A Cold Sinus Infection Or Allergies How To Tell The Difference

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.

It can be tough to tell the difference between a cold, a bacterial sinus infection and allergies. In fact, thats probably one of the questions people ask doctors most frequently in this country. Theres a lot of confusion about what the signs are for these conditionsfrom patients and their doctors alike.

Recognizing the variations between these three conditions is important. The treatment strategies for a cold are unlike those for a bacterial sinus infection. And treatment for allergies is different still than treatment for the other two.

Lets go through the symptoms that people often are confused about, as well as the process of deciding which condition a patient may have and what we need to do about it.

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Whats The Main Difference Between Sinus Infection And Covid

The main difference between COVID and a sinus infection is what causes them. A sinus infection is caused by inflammation of the sinuses and often follows a cold or allergy flare-up. COVID-19 is only caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

If You Have A Cold Do You Need To See A Doctor

Signs Your Cold Has Turned into a Sinus Infection [INFOGRAPHIC]

The general medical wisdom around treating colds says that, in most cases, you dont need to see a doctor for a cold. However, some over the counter medications can help. These include NSAID painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. And decongestant nasal sprays or cough syrups can also help take the edge off of symptoms.

However, if you have a very high or persistent fever, seeing a doctor may be a good idea. Influenza, a more severe illness, may sound like a cold, but its symptoms start much sooner. Instead of a multi-stage onset like you would get with a cold, influenza starts right away with a high fever and severe symptoms.

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