Treatment For Colds And Sinus Infections
All colds and most sinus infections are caused by viruses and clear up on their own without treatment. Know that antibiotics do not work against viruses. Cold and sinus infection treatment involves relieving symptoms. Home remedies and over-the-counter medications can help you feel better, but they do not shorten the length of the illness. Getting plenty of rest, drinking enough water, applying a warm compress to your sinus area and using a humidifier can make you more comfortable.
Over-the-counter medications can also help alleviate cold and sinus symptoms. Read labels closely when choosing a medication. Note that combination medicines contain more than one active ingredient. For example, Alka Seltzer Plus contains several active ingredients, including acetaminophen . In this case, you’d have to be careful to not also take a separate dose of acetaminophen. You also should not take medications for symptoms you don’t have. Your pharmacist can help you find an OTC product to treat your specific symptoms:
There are no prescription medications for colds, but there are prescription medications for symptom management. One of these is ipratropium bromide , which is available as a nasal spray or as an inhaler. This nasal spray can ease a runny nose, postnasal drip and a sore throat, and the inhaler relaxes airways and prevents secretion of mucus in the nose.
Clinically reviewed and updated December 2021.
Is It Flu Or A Sinus Infection
December 22, 2021 by Will Sowards
Changing seasons and outside elements can affect the human body in various ways. One morning, you may wake up and feel terrible. Could it be a sinus infection or influenza ? There are differences between the two that help people know what is affecting them. Taking note of these symptoms will enable you to take care of yourself properly.
Sore Throat And Hoarse Voice
Postnasal drip can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can get worse.
If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat and hoarse voice. Frequent coughing and throat clearing can make a hoarse voice worse.
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What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Fluid buildup in the sinuses can cause germs to grow, leading to a sinus infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often lasts even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria or, rarely, fungus may cause a sinus infection.
Steroid Or Corticosteroid Sprays
These sprays shrink swelling in the nasal passages. Some steroid sprays are available over the counter. Others require a prescription from a doctor.
In some people, steroid sprays can slightly improve congestion but are not effective for everyone. Steroid sprays can also cause side effects, such as headaches and nosebleeds.
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Sinus And Facial Pressure
While a cold can sometimes irritate the sinuses and cause swelling, experiencing constant facial pressure and pain for many days is often a sign of a sinus infection. An infection is caused by bacteria that breed in the sinus cavities themselves, meaning the symptoms can last longer and over the counter decongestants may be less effective to relieve this pressure than congestion from a cold.
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When Does A Cold/flu Become A Sinus Infection
Everyone knows the dread of feeling like a cold is coming on. You eat more oranges than you have all year, but sure enough, youre sick. Now you have been sick for days maybe weeks? You forget what its like to breathe normally. What you thought was a cold might now be a sinus infection , so how do you tell?
Both a cold and sinus infection have some things in common, but there are ways to tell them apart. We have included a handy chart at the bottom of this article so you can get the right treatment the first time.
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Defining Sinus Infection And A Cold
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, each year, about 31 million people experience sinus infectionsalso called sinusitiswhich is usually caused by germs growing in the sinuses, the hollow cavities found behind the nose, eyes, brows, and cheekbones.
Most often, viruses cause sinus infections, but bacterial infections can cause sinusitis too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The CDC says that bacterial or viral infection causes mucous membranes in the sinuses to swell and block the tiny openings into the sinuses, which interferes with their ability to drain. The trapped mucus allows bacteria to breed, causing pain and pressure in the head and face.
Colds are mild viral upper respiratory infections, and they are not caused by a buildup of germs and inflammation in the sinuses. However, a cold can lead to a sinus infection.
And according to the CDC, antibiotics can be helpful for those with bacterial sinus infections, but these medications are useless when it comes to fighting cold viruses or viral sinus infections.
How To Treat A Cold Vs A Sinus Infection
Theres no medication cure or vaccine for the common cold. Instead, treatment should focus on managing symptoms.
Congestion can often be relieved by using a saline spray in each nostril a couple of times a day. A nasal decongestant, such as oxymetazoline , may also be helpful. But you shouldnt use it for more than three days.
If you have a headache, or body aches and pains, you may take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
For a sinus infection, saline or decongestant nasal spray may help with congestion. You may also be prescribed a corticosteroid, usually in a nasal spray form. A pill form may be necessary in certain cases in order to help reduce severely inflamed sinuses.
If your doctor thinks you may have a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed a course of antibiotic therapy. This should be taken exactly as prescribed and for the duration recommended by your doctor.
Stopping a course of antibiotics too soon can allow an infection to linger and for symptoms to develop again.
For both a sinus infection and a common cold, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
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Symptoms Of 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
- A reduced sense of smell
- Yellow or greenish mucus from the nose and throat
Cold Vs Flu Vs Sinus Infection: How To Tell The Difference
Published on Feb 17, 2020 | Stay Well |
Viruses, viruses everywhere! It can seem like a fact of life this time of year. With so many illnesses that cause similar symptoms, how can you tell whether you have a cold, the flu or a sinus infection?
It can really be tricky! Since all three are usually viral infections affecting the upper respiratory system, they often have very similar and overlapping symptoms.
But the most effective treatment of your symptoms and your condition is dependent on the type of virus youre fighting. So, in todays blog, were offering some insight on how to tell the difference between the flu, a sinus infection and the common cold.
First, though, lets break down why viruses are more common this time of year.
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How To Treat A Sinus Infection At Home
Many sinus infections go away on their own. You can try some of these treatments at home to help you manage your symptoms and feel more comfortable.
- Press a warm, moist towel to your face for 5-10 minutes every day. This can help reduce swelling and pain.
- Drink lots of water and other fluids. This can help thin your mucus and reduce congestion.
- Breathe in warm, humid air. Using a humidifier helps, or you can take a hot shower or bath.
- Try clearing your nasal passages with a saline solution . A saline wash helps clear your nasal packages and reduces congestion. You can buy saline drops at your local pharmacy or make your own saline solution at home.
- Over-the-counter pain medicine like Tylenol and Advil can help reduce pain and manage other symptoms, like a fever or headaches.
When A Sinus Infection Wont Go Away
While its true that sinus infections sometimes clear on their own, antibiotics can sometimes shorten their duration.
Talk with your doctor if your symptoms dont subside within 10 days or if you have persistent fevers, facial swelling or neck stiffness. As with colds, make sure you hit the sheets and get enough rest and drink your H2O. Proper hydration and nasal irrigation can ease sinus infection symptoms.
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Cold Vs Sinus Infection
A cold is an infection caused by a virus that finds a home in your upper respiratory system, including your nose and throat. Over 200 different viruses are capable of causing a cold, though most of the time a type of rhinovirus, one that primarily affects the nose, is the culprit.
Colds can be so mild you may only have symptoms for a few days, or a cold can hang on for weeks.
Because a common cold is caused by a virus, it cant be effectively treated with antibiotics. Some medications can help reduce symptoms, but rest is usually the main way to beat a cold virus.
A sinus infection causing inflammation of the sinuses, also known as sinusitis, is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, though it can be caused by a virus or fungus .
In some cases, you can develop a sinus infection following a common cold.
A cold can cause the lining of your sinuses to become inflamed, which makes it difficult for them to properly drain. That can lead to mucus becoming trapped in the sinus cavity, which, in turn, can create an inviting environment for bacteria to grow and spread.
You can have an acute sinus infection or chronic sinusitis. An acute sinus infection tends to last for less than a month. Chronic sinusitis lasts for more than three months, and symptoms may regularly come and go.
Among the symptoms shared by a cold and sinus infection are:
- fever, though with a cold, it tends to be a low-grade fever
- fatigue, or lack of energy
How Common Are These Conditions
According to the CDC, American adults have an average of two to three colds per year, and children tend to have more.
They estimate that more than 29 million Americans have a sinus infection or other sinus-related problems each ear.
The CDC also reports that influenza has resulted in nine to 45 million illnesses, 140,000 to 810, 000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
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Loss Of Taste And Smell Is Most Common During A Covid
A loss of taste and smell is one way to distinguish COVID-19 from the flu and RSV, Fayanju said, although that symptom is less common now than it was in the earlier days of the pandemic.
This isnt the same as the loss of taste and smell from congestion. The loss of taste and smell with a COVID-19 infection generally happens pretty early on as one of the first signs of the virus sometimes even with no other symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Madhavan said there is no guarantee that youll have this side effect even if you have COVID-19, but if you do, its likely a sign of the virus and not the flu or RSV.
The Difference Between A Cold And A Sinus Infection
The common cold is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. It’s also one of the most common illnesses in the U.S., with adults getting an average of two to three colds per year, and children catching between six to eight colds per year. Most of the time, colds resolve on their own within three to seven days, with some symptoms possibly lingering for up to two weeks. But in some cases, colds can temporarily weaken the immune system or cause swelling of the lining of the airways or nose. This can lead to a secondary viral or bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection.
A sinus infection or sinusitis is the swelling of the lining of the sinuses and nose. The most common cause of a sinus infection is a virus associated with a cold. However, about 2% of sinus infections are bacterial infections. Sinus infections usually improve within 10 days, but when they last longer, they’re more likely to be bacterial infections.
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Is Fever A Cold Or Flu Symptom
Fever is less likely to accompany a common cold. If there is a fever, it is usually mild. Children may be more likely to have a fever as a common cold symptom. Head cold symptoms do not usually make you feverish.
On the other hand, with the flu, most people will experience a fever of 100-102 degrees or higher, especially children. However, not everyone will develop fever as a flu symptom.
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.
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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:
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.
Sinus Infection The Flu And The Common Cold: Know The Difference
Sniffles, sneezes and sore throats are all common signs of colds, sinus infections and the flu. These diseases affect millions of Americans each year. In fact:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans have an average of two to three colds a year. Children often have more.
- More than 12,000 people die each year due to complications from the flu.
- More than 29 million Americans have sinus infections or sinus-related problems each year.
Treating these conditions is challenging enough, but because they have so many similar symptoms, how can you tell them apart? Knowing the difference is important because it can determine the best course of treatment and home care strategies.
Weve provided this handy guide to help you. First, we look at the common symptoms of each illness and then examine the distinct differences between them.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between A Cold And Flu
Influenza and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses.Seasonal coronaviruses should not be confused with SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Because flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than people who have flu. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have serious associated complications.
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