Since a cold and a sinus infection share similar symptoms. Knowing the difference and being able to tell which one you have can be tricky. We’ll make it a little easier on you with these questions you need to ask.
What is a cold?
A cold is a virus in the upper respiratory system. The common cold can be caused by many different types of viruses. A cold is usually harmless and symptoms usually resolve within two weeks.
Symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, sore throat, chest congestion, and watery eyes. If you have a high fever or your child has a high fever, you need to see a medical care professional. Most people recover on their own within two weeks. Over-the-counter products and home remedies can help control symptoms. Before using over-the-counter products, check for dosing instructions and interactions with medications you may already take.
What is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection, or sinusitis, occurs when the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed preventing the sinuses from draining. Trapped mucus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which leads to a sinus infection. Conditions like allergies, nasal polyps, and immunodeficiencies may make you more likely to get a sinus infection.
Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- pain in the face, sinuses, back of the eyes, ear, or forehead
- nasal congestion
- distorted sense of smell
- loss of smell
- runny nose
How long have you had symptoms?
Cold symptoms peak after 3-5 days then improve. A sinus infection can stick around for longer. If you have a runny nose, stuffy nose, or sinus pressure lasting longer than 10 days, you might have a sinus infection.
What color is your discharge?
Is your mucus clear or does it have a color to it? Clear mucus is usually a sign of the common cold. If your mucus is yellow or green, you may have a sinus infection.
When you have a cold, your immune system sends white blood cells rushing to the area. These cells contain a greenish-colored enzyme, and in large numbers they can turn the mucus the same color. Therefore, colored mucus may not always indicate a bacterial infection, but if it is in conjunction with other symptoms, such as congestion, fever, and pressure in your face it’s probably a sinus infection.
Do you have bad breath?
If you are constantly reaching for a breath mint, you may have a sinus infection. The presence of bacteria in your nose and sinus cavities may give off noxious odors.
Easing Symptoms of a Cold
Colds cannot be cured. Antibiotics won’t help you feel better faster because antibiotics do not work on viruses. If you have a cold, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and rinse out your sinuses with a saline irrigation system like a Neti pot. Flushing your sinuses will clean out the mucus, bacteria. or viruses stuck in your nasal cavity. It’s when mucus just sits there and accumulates bacteria that it can develop into a sinus infection.
Treating a Sinus Infection
Sinus infections will sometimes clear up on their own. Sometimes they won’t. If the sinus infection is caused by a virus, you simply have to wait it out. Antibiotics can sometimes shorten their duration if the sinus infection is caused by bacteria. Talk to your medical care professional if your symptoms don’t subside within 10 days or if you have a persistent fever, facial swelling, or neck stiffness. Like with a cold, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and rinse out your sinuses with a saline irrigation system.
Do you have symptoms of a sinus infection? Give us a call at (662) 348-3342. EliteCare can provide prompt, affordable treatment. Schedule an appointment today!