How do I know if I have a cold or sinusitis?

A cold can give a person a stuffed and runny nose and make them feel run down. These symptoms could also indicate sinusitis – so what is it?

The symptoms overlap >More than 100 different viruses cause a cold, a kind of viral infection of the respiratory system. Colds spread when someone who has the virus coughs up or sneezes into the air. They can also transmit when a person with a cold sneezes or touches a surface, leaving the virus behind to infect a new host.

The air-filled sacks behind the nose are called sine. Colds can lead to sinus infections if the sinuses swell. Air, mucus and bacteria can be trapped in the swollen sinuses and cause further infections.

The main difference between a cold and a sinus infection is the duration of the symptoms. Most people recover from a cold after 5 to 10 days. Sinusitis can remain in the body for 4 weeks or for over 3 months in people with a chronic case of the condition.

Fast facts on cold and sinusitis symptoms

  • Sinusitis is an infection of the spaces behind the nose.
  • Sinusitis symptoms can last for 4 weeks or longer, while a cold will usually resolve much faster.
  • Drug or surgery may be needed to cure sinusitis, but a cold cannot be treated.

Sinus infection symptoms vs. cold symptoms

Cold symptoms include:

  • a stuffed and runny nose
  • Sneeze
  • a cough
  • low fever
  • slight body pain

These symptoms usually peak in the first 3 to 5 days and then gradually improve. Most people have no symptoms after 10 days to 2 weeks.

Symptoms of sinus infection can be more severe and can last for 4 weeks or longer. They include:

  • stuffy nose
  • thick yellow or green nasal discharge
  • Pain in the face – especially around the eyes, nose, cheeks and forehead
  • Headache behind the eyes
  • a cough
  • Pain in the upper jaw and teeth
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • bad breath

Sinusitis can clean up without treatment, but requires medical intervention rather than a cold.

Sinus infection symptoms in children

As with adults, sinus infection symptoms in children are easily confused with those of a cold.

Young children are most likely to experience cold-like symptoms, including a stuffed nose with yellow-green discharge and a mild fever that persists for 10 to 14 days. They can also be more irritable than usual.

In addition to traffic jams, older children and adolescents can:

  • a cough that does not resolve
  • bad breath
  • toothache
  • earache
  • Pain in the face
  • a headache
  • Swelling around the eyes

If a child is still sick after 14 days, or if the temperature continues to rise or lasts longer than 3 days despite treatment with acetaminophen, should you see a pediatrician.

A child could have chronic sinusitis if the symptoms persist for months. Children with chronic sinusitis should see a doctor for ear, nose and throat medicine for more treatment options.

Sinus infection treatments

Often a sinus infection gets better without treatment. The following treatments can help people feel better while their bodies are recovering.


This medication shrinks swollen blood vessels in the nose to make breathing easier. They come in the form of a pill or a nasal spray.

Nasal sprays should not be used for more than 3 days in a row as congestion can occur with repeated use. A doctor should monitor decongestant use in children.

These drugs can raise blood pressure. People with high blood pressure should speak to a doctor before taking a decongestant, as well as people with heart disease or diabetes.

pain relief

Some medications lower fever and relieve headache and other unpleasant effects of sinusitis, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil).

Verme >These sprays shrink nasal passages. Some stero >Some people can use stero >These drugs treat sinusitis caused by bacteria. However,. A doctor can prescribe an antibiotic course between 3 and 28 days, depending on the drug.

Always complete a course of antibiotics. Stopping antibiotics too early can make bacteria resistant to the effects of an antibiotic in the future and impair recovery.

If the symptoms of sinus infection persist after a few months, doctors can perform surgery to open the sinuses or remove growth that is causing blockage.

Natural and home remedies

These natural and home remedies can also help alleviate symptoms:

  • Quiet: stay at home and rest, until they to feel better. This will help your body fight the infection.
  • Liquids: Water, clear broth and other liquids can flush mucus out of the system and prevent dehydration.
  • Nasal saline: A nasal spray made from saline is a more natural way to get rid of nasal congestion. It helps remove the mucus, relieve congestion. Saline can sometimes be applied with a neti pot. Click here for a fantastic selection of Neti pots that are available online.
  • Humidifier: Switching on a cold steam humidifier at night prevents the sinuses from drying out. A wide range is available online – click here for access.

What to avoid >To avoid >Whatever the cause, people should call a doctor if they experience any of these symptoms:
  • a persistent cough
  • Fever over 103º Fahrenheit
  • rash
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Vomit

Are you looking for a few Weeks after a sinus infection symptoms that do not improve or get worse.


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