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:
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.
How To Diagnose Your Cold Vs Sinus Infection
When symptoms become bad enough or last long enough that you want to seek medical advice, an experienced ENT specialist can diagnose what is causing your discomfort. A cold can often be diagnosed with a standard physical exam, and some viruses can be confirmed with blood testing if necessary.
If the doctor suspects a sinus infection, they may perform a rhinoscopy or endoscopy to view the inside of your sinus cavities with a thin endoscope device. Once it is confirmed that a sinus infection is the source of your symptoms the doctor can then work to determine the root cause of the infection, be it allergies, nasal polyps, or another underlying source. If allergies are suspected as the cause, testing can be completed to diagnose which allergies are at play. The best form of treatment for your infection will depend on the diagnosed source of the issue.
Do You Have A Cold Or Allergies
It’s easy to get them confused. Just ask Paul Ehrlich, MD, a professor of pediatrics at New York University. He’d been an allergist for years when he came down with what he thought was a cold. “I’d had a watery, runny nose for several days when one of my patients took a look at me and said, ‘Oh, you have allergies, too!'” Ehrlich says.
He’d never had allergies before, but a checkup with another doctor confirmed that the patient was right. “Turns out I was allergic to birch trees, which were in bloom at the time,” he says.
A cold is an infection caused by a virus. Allergies are your immune system’s reaction to a substance like pollen or pet dander. Because the two conditions cause similar symptoms, like sniffles and stuffiness, many people get them mixed up. Knowing which is which can help you get the right treatment, and that will help you feel better faster.
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Treating And Preventing Allergic Rhinitis
It’s difficult to completely avoid potential allergens, but you can take steps to reduce exposure to a particular allergen you know or suspect is triggering your allergic rhinitis. This will help improve your symptoms.
If your condition is mild, you can also help reduce the symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications, such as non-sedating antihistamines, and by regularly rinsing your nasal passages with a salt water solution to keep your nose free of irritants.
See a GP for advice if you have tried taking these steps and they have not helped.
They may prescribe a stronger medication, such as a nasal spray containing corticosteroids.
Is It A Cold Or A Sinus Infection
What is the difference between the common cold and sinusitis? How can you tell the two apart? Well, a cold lasts up to a week, a week and a half tops. By the time its coming to an end, symptoms should have subsided almost completely. A sinus infection lasts longer and can derive from a cold . Colds can cause headaches, but they are not always present. If its an infection of the sinuses, headaches, teeth aches and jaw aches are all common and ear infections are a possible side effect.
While theres mucus production with a cold too, if its a sinus infection, the mucus tends to build up in the sinuses and cause puffiness, tenderness, pressure and even pain in the area . Also, the pressure or pain is worse when you lean forward, tilt your head back or lie down on your back. Because of the mucus blocking the sinus passages and allowing for bacteria buildup, a sinus infection can cause bad breath too as well as a change in mucus color to yellow or even green. Find out more about what nose mucus color means.
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Is It A Cold Or Allergies Causing My Stuffy Nose
Are you one of the many Floridians experiencing a runny nose, sinus pressure, or congestion? If so, you may initially believe you have the common cold, but not so fast. While many of these symptoms are hallmarks of a cold, they are also associated with allergies. So, before reaching for that bottle of cold medicine, lets discuss the differences between the common cold and allergies, as well as why you may need a trip to South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center for sinus allergy relief.
The Common Cold
Often abbreviated as just a cold, the common cold is caused by a strain of viruses. Cold symptoms can vary in intensity, but they are frequent across most strains. Some characteristics that are particular to the common cold include:
- Unlike allergies, colds can be transmitted via contagious individuals through bodily contact or air exposure in the form of coughing and sneezing.
- Individuals experiencing a cold often suffer from a sore throat.
- Fever, chills, sweating, and general body aches are all symptoms of a cold.
- Mucus discharge tends to be green or yellow during a cold .
- Cold symptoms are often temporary and subside within a week or two, though in some cases, a cold can lead to more serious health complications, such as pneumonia.
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
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:
- Scratchy or low-grade sore throat
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 .
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Tips To Help You Feel Better Now
With respiratory symptoms, there are some things you can do to start getting some immediate relief, according to Dr. Buzzard.
The first tip I have is to take make sure you are getting an adequate amount of rest, as well as fluids. Secondly, over-the-counter medicines for cold symptoms can be helpful for symptoms like sore throat, fever, congestion, and cough. Check with your doctor if you have questions about what is safe and effective, says Dr. Buzzard. My third tip is if you are smoking, stop. Smoking will make your symptoms worse and can increase your risk of secondary infections like sinus infections or pneumonia. Finally, if you are getting worse or youve gone longer than a week without feeling better, come in to see us.
If you think you might have a COVID-19, a sinus infection, or another respiratory illness, a visit to one of Physicians Immediate Cares convenient locations in Illinois, Indianaand Wisconsin couldprovide the relief you need. In addition to caring physicians and staff who have been serving patients for more than 30 years, Physicians Immediate Care also offers evening and weekend hours, and no appointment is needed.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please let us know before you arrive so we can keep you safe with our enhanced health and safety protocols.
Treating The Common Cold
Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since antibiotics only kill bacteria, they wont work on the viruses that cause colds. Still, there are medications that can help relieve your symptoms while a cold runs its course.
Cold remedies include:
Cough syrups and OTC medications arent recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays arent recommended for children under age 6.
Ask your doctor before taking any OTC cold medication, especially if you also take prescription medications, have any existing health conditions, or are pregnant.
Dont use cold medications for a long period of time. Using them for extended periods can cause side effects such as rebound congestion.
You can also try home treatments to relieve a cold, such as:
- drinking more fluids like water, juice, and herbal tea
Decongestants come in pills and nasal sprays. However, nasal decongestants such as oxymetazoline can make your congestion worse if you use them for more than three days in a row.
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You Likely Have Allergies If
Here are a few signs that your symptoms are the result of allergies:
- Watery or Clear Mucous: Pay attention to the thickness and color of your nasal discharge. If it stays clear and doesnt thicken up, then it is probably caused by an allergic reaction.
- Symptoms Longer than a Week: How long have you had a runny nose and congestion? Symptoms of a head cold will usually go away within 7 to 10 days. On the other hand, allergies can last for weeks or even months .
- Itching Eyes: The allergy immune response can cause the eyes to itch, which isnt a common symptom with a head cold.
- Situational Symptoms: Do you find that your symptoms only pop up in certain circumstances? For example, if you find that the symptoms happen every spring, then you probably have seasonal allergies. Or, if the symptoms flare when you are in a certain place , then you could be allergic to something in that location.
What Causes Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is caused by the immune system reacting to an allergen as if it were harmful.
This results in cells releasing a number of chemicals that cause the inside layer of your nose to become swollen and too much mucus to be produced.
Common allergens that cause allergic rhinitis include pollen , as well as mould spores, house dust mites, and flakes of skin or droplets of urine or saliva from certain animals.
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It Is The Flu Or A Sinus Infection
What is the difference between the flu and a sinus infection? A sinus infection affects primarily the sinuses and most of the symptoms tend to focus on the middle part of the face, where the sinuses are. Actually, the most telling symptom to help you make the difference between the flu and a sinus infection is the fact that a the latter causes a feeling of fullness, tenderness, pressure or even pain in the middle of the face. The flu produces more general symptoms affecting most of the body, including often severe aches and pains, fatigue or even fainting.
Sneezing from the sinus inflammation, loss of smell and taste, bad breath and earaches are more common with sinus infections, whereas chest discomfort and coughing occur more often with the flu. Coughing with a sinus infection is on-and-off and more likely an effect of postnasal drip, when mucus from the nose drips down the back of the throat . Fever and congestion are overlapping symptoms. Both the flu and acute sinusitis can last for 2-4 weeks, but chronic sinusitis can easily last for 2-3 months.
Is It A Cold Allergies Or A Sinus Problem
Got a cold? If you have a stuffy nose, runny eyes, and other symptoms, you might think so. But it could also be due to allergies or even a sinus infection, which you would treat differently than a cold.
If you’re not sure, this handy guide should help. Pin it to your , for quick and easy reference!
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Is It A Cold Or The Flu
What is the difference between the common cold vs the flu? You can catch both a cold and the flu at the same time since the viruses causing them run from the start to the finish of the cold season, starting with chillier autumn days and ending with warmer spring days. However, its usually either a cold or the flu, not both at once, although having one may make you susceptible to getting the another. And while symptoms are different from person to person, most people find the flu is overall worse than the common cold and lasts a lot longer: the typical duration of a cold is 2-5/7 days, while the duration of the flu is 7-10/14 days .
You can usually tell its the flu if you experience tiredness or fatigue and mild to severe pains and aches throughout the body, including generalized muscle, joint or bone-like pain. With a cold, its usually more of a runny nose preceded by lots of sneezing and maybe also a sore throat with hoarseness. A cold is more likely to allow you to be on your feet since it causes overall milder symptoms. Colds dont typically cause a fever or, if they do, it isnt usually too high or breaks relatively easily. In those that arent asymptomatic, the flu tends to cause high-grade fever that lasts for up to a few days and, at some point, you cant find the strength to be up on your feet.
Is It Allergies Or The Flu
What is the difference between allergies and the flu? Since its an infection, the flu usually causes fever, high-grade and lasting for days allergies dont cause any fever, ever. With the flu, you develop a steady cough, often severe. If its allergies, coughing is intermittent and typically only occurs when youre outside or have just come from spending time outside where youve had contact with pollen or other allergens. Coughing with allergies is preceded by a tingling sensation in the throat and usually a sign of a laryngospasm the airways closing as a result of exposure to an allergen. Simply drinking some water should help inactivate or remove the allergen and stop the cough.
With the flu you dont sneeze, at least not very often. With allergies, you sneeze a lot sneezing helps remove pollen or other allergens you might have inhaled. Excessive nose and throat mucus is common with allergies, but the mucus is always either clear or white, sometimes with grey streaks if youve happened to have inhaled dust particles. With the flu, mucus turns yellow or green over the course of a few days. Allergies cant produce yellow or green mucus. Changes in mucus color are indicative of the progression of an infection.
This post was updated on Thursday / December 16th, 2021 at 7:21 PM
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Head Cold Vs Allergies
If you have a cold, then it means that your body is fighting an infection caused by a virus. Symptoms such as a SORE THROAT, runny nose, coughing, and fever are all manifestations of the bodys attempt to eliminate the pathogens within the body. Typically, symptoms do not last beyond one week.
On the other hand, allergies are the response that occurs when the immune system overreacts to an environmental substance that is causing irritation, typically lasting weeks to months to year-round. SNEEZING and ITCHY NOSE along with COPIOUS CLEAR DRAINAGE tend to predominate. Sore throat is typically NOT present, and fever is not an issue. Common allergens include pet dander or pollen. Some people have seasonal allergies, which pop up during certain times of the year. Or, these allergy symptoms can stick around all year long when the person is exposed to specific allergy triggers that arent related to the changing seasons.
Most adults experience a head cold two or three times a year, depending on their overall health and environmental exposure. At the same time, allergies are quite common affecting around 50 million Americans.
These two health conditions are similar, but they vary in the causes, duration, and symptoms. If you want to identify the best treatment, then it is important that you talk to a doctor for a diagnosis. This information will help in identifying a treatment plan that addresses the root cause.