Differentiating between a cold and a sinus infection

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 8 months ago

Watery eyes, a stuffy nose, and sneezing are common symptoms that can indicate either a cold or a sinus infection. It is important to pay attention to how long these symptoms last, as it can provide clues about the underlying cause of congestion.

If the symptoms are caused by a cold virus, they typically resolve on their own within 10 days or less. Colds can bring on a range of unpleasant symptoms, including a sore throat, cough, headache, mucus buildup, fatigue, and swollen sinuses. While antibiotics are ineffective against cold viruses, over-the-counter medications can provide relief.

Dr. Camelia Davtyan, a professor of medicine at UCLA, advises targeting specific symptoms with appropriate remedies, such as headache medication, congestion relief, and fever reducers. She also emphasizes the importance of getting plenty of rest and fluids, although she acknowledges that this can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules.

Davtyan recommends sinus irrigation using a neti pot, which can help thin mucus and flush out the sinuses. According to her, people who practice sinus irrigation during a cold typically experience better outcomes.

Sinus infections, on the other hand, are more difficult to treat. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies, and are often a result of the breeding ground created by a cold. Symptoms of a sinus infection include sinus pressure behind the eyes and cheeks, a runny or stuffy nose lasting more than a week, worsening headaches, fever, cough, bad breath, thick yellow or green mucus, fatigue, and a decreased sense of smell.

If a sinus infection is suspected, it may be necessary to consult a doctor. Most acute sinus infections resolve on their own or with a simple course of antibiotics. Sinus irrigation, steroids, decongestants, and over-the-counter mucus thinners can also provide relief while waiting for the antibiotics to take effect. However, if the infection persists despite treatment, it may be necessary to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

Chronic sinus infections, which can be caused by allergies or smoking, may require sinus surgery to enlarge the openings of the sinuses and promote drainage. It is important to seek medical attention if chronic infections persist and other treatments are ineffective.


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