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Symptoms Of Cold Flu Or Sinus Infection

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When Does A Cold/flu Become A Sinus Infection

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

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.

About Author: David Pruitt

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.

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.

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What Is Sinus Infection

The sinus is also called Sinusitis. Bones present in our face with some spaces these spaces create to proper movement of those bones. And in that part sinus is present. Sinus has four types: frontal sinus , maxillary sinus , ethmoid sinus, and sphenoid sinus.

In between this air is present. It works to remove all the dust which we inhale. Sinus infection means swelling of these four types of tissue. It is a bacterial infection. This is also called Rhinosinusitis here rhino means nose. Because its a nose infection. There are types of Sinus infections. The first one is Bacterial Sinus Infection which causes sudden cold symptoms, runny nose, facial pain. The second one is Chronic sinus infection which leads to drainage, facial pain, and decreased sense of smell.

And Subacute Sinusitis, Recurrent Sinusitis. Sinus infection happens to anyone who has nasal allergies, asthma problems. Smoking can also increase the chances to get a sinus infection. Some of the home remedies used to treat this infection are otherwise it is best to consult a doctor. And you should avoid smoke, dust areas, contact with sick people especially those who have a major problem of cold and all.

Tips To Help You Feel Better Now

When a Cold Becomes a Sinus Infection

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.

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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.

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 To Talk To Your Doctor

While most coldsand even sinus infectionsclear up on their own, its important to know when you need medical help. If youre having symptoms, heres when you should call a doctor:

  • Your symptoms are persisting or worsening after 10 days.
  • Pain and discomfort are severe.
  • You have a stiff neck or swelling around the eyes.
  • Youre experiencing changes in vision or mental function.
  • Symptoms go away but then come back.
  • You have a fever that persists beyond a few days.

Causes Of The Common Cold Covid

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

The common cold and COVID-19 are both caused by different viruses. The virus that causes the cold affects the upper respiratory tract, while the novel coronavirus can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tract.

A sinus infection is caused when your sinuses get blocked and fill with fluid, allowing bacteria to grow. The blockage can be due to allergies, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or a virus like the cold. The infection can cause swelling or inflammation in the sinuses. This can cause several symptoms, many of which are similar to that of a cold.

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Cold Treatment & Care

While the common cold has no treatment available, taking proper medicine will help with relieving the symptoms. Some of the most common cold treatment is over the counter drugs.

  • Over-the-counter medicine drugs that will relieve the nose stiffness, coughing and sneezing are recommended in the common cold.
  • Antihistamines and decongestants are also recommended when patients experience a stuffy nose and sneezing.
  • Nasal sprays help with nose stuffiness.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are recommended for aches and pain.
  • Antibiotics are not recommended in the common cold, since the cold is caused by viruses and not bacteria.

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:

  • congestion
  • fever, though with a cold, it tends to be a low-grade fever
  • fatigue, or lack of energy

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How To Treat Your Symptoms

Whether you have a cold or a sinus infection, getting plenty of rest and water is key for healing. Antibiotics are only effective if your issues are caused by a bacterial infection, in which case you will likely be prescribed a course of antibiotic pills or liquid to help the body fight bacteria. There are no effective medications to treat colds or viral infections directly, so treating your symptoms is often the best way to help your body heal and normalize.

Other Similarities & Differences

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

Both influenza and the common cold are caused by viruses, though they are caused by different viruses . While the common cold and the flu share many similar symptoms, one difference is that the common cold tends to develop over a period of time while the flu tends to come on suddenly. Symptoms of a cold tend to come on one to three days after exposure from the virus and the recovery usually takes about a week to ten days, though it can take longer to recover if youre a smoker. For the flu, the virus is most contagious about the day before symptoms first appear to about five days after symptoms after the appearance of symptoms.

Meanwhile a sinus infection, often referred to as acute sinusitis, is often caused by the common cold when the passages around the nasal cavities become swollen and inflamed. This can impact drainage and cause mucus to build up. Most sinus infections are resolved within a week to ten days .

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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.

How To Prevent A Sinus Infection

Prevention is really the key, she said. Staying healthy by drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest, decreasing stress and washing your hands are all good preventive steps.

Make sure you get recommended vaccines such as the flu vaccine. Also, dont smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. And avoid close contract with others who have colds or other upper respiratory infections, Melinda said.

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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.

Cold Vs Flu Vs Sinus Infection: How To Tell The Difference

Cold or sinus infection?

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 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.

What Causes Sinusitis And The Flu

Influenza and sinusitis arent caused by the same thing. Several influenza viruses cause the flu. Type B influenza viruses get people sick while Type A viruses can get people as well as animals sick. Type C viruses typically cause minor symptoms. Any type of influenza virus can get into your body and make you sick by entering through the eyes, mouth or nose.

Sinusitis can also be caused by a virus but not the influenza virus. Sinus infections can also develop due to bacteria and fungus, and chronic sinusitis can develop because of a problem with the structure of the sinuses or nasal cavity or because of ongoing inflammation caused by allergies or the common cold.

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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.

How Do I Know If I Have Symptoms Of A Common Cold

Symptoms that Indicate a Sinus Infection not a Cold

Dr Aragona says: if youre sneezing, have a runny or blocked nose and a high temperature with no other symptoms, then its likely a cold. N.B. here: sneezing and a runny nose are not typically symptoms of COVID-19, so this should put your mind at ease.

However, he warns that some symptoms do overlap. For example, you can develop a cough when you come down with a cold, although do note that this is usually more of a wet mucus cough than a dry one.

Another key difference: your cold symptoms will usually peak by the second, third or fourth day, at the latest, whereas the COVID process is far more lengthy and dragged out.

Symptoms of a common cold include:

  • a stuffy and runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • a slightly raised temperature.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection

They may include things like:

  • Thick, yellow, foul-smelling discharge from your nose
  • Pressure or pain around your face and eyes
  • Headache
  • Blockage in your nose
  • Fever or cough

These symptoms can also happen with a cold. But if they continue for more than 10 days, you may have a sinus infection.


Cold Symptoms Vs Sinus Infection Symptoms

Colds and sinus infections share many of the same symptoms, including a stuffy and runny nose, sinus pressure, headache and feeling tired. But there are a few symptoms to watch for that may mean youre suffering from a sinus infection and not just a cold. They are:

  • Severe pressure and pain in your upper jaw or cheekbones
  • A high or persistent fever
  • Thick yellow or green mucus draining from your nose or down the back of your throat
  • Bad breath

The length of time youve been suffering with symptoms can also be an important clue. Cold symptoms will generally begin to improve in three to five days. If you find youre still suffering after 10 days or longer, its likely that youve developed a sinus infection. If your symptoms improve and then suddenly get worse again, thats another clue. This pattern suggests that what began as a cold or viral sinusitis has now developed into a bacterial sinus infection.

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