People in the United States suffer about 1 billion colds over the course of a year! That’s a lot of stuffy noses. If you’re someone who always has a box of tissues and a bottle of Nyquil on hand, you understand the struggle.
But how do you know if your stuffy nose is the result of a cold or if it’s from a sinus infection? They can seem very similar.
Let’s talk about it. Read on to learn about the differences between a sinus infection vs a cold.
One of the main differences between a sinus infection and a cold is the duration and severity of symptoms. The symptoms themselves are similar (coughing, sneezing, stuffy nose, and headache, primarily), but the duration and severity differ.
Colds typically last between 7 and 10 days and include symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, a sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose. The symptoms tend to be mild and easy to control with over-the-counter medication.
Sinus infections, on the other hand, can last for weeks. They may cause more severe symptoms such as a persistent cough, fever, facial pain or pressure, and thick yellow or green nasal discharge.
The color of the nasal discharge is often the key indicator that you’re dealing with sinus infection symptoms rather than cold symptoms.
The causes of these two illnesses are also different.
Colds are usually caused by a virus that triggers inflammation in the nose, throat, and elsewhere. Sinus infections, however, can be caused by both viruses and bacteria.
In some cases, a cold can lead to a sinus infection if the cold virus causes inflammation and swelling in the sinus cavities, making it easier for bacteria to grow.
Colds and sinus infections are treated differently.
Because colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics are not effective. Cold treatment usually involves managing symptoms such as taking over-the-counter medications for pain and congestion, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting plenty of rest. There’s no “cure” for the common cold.
Sinus infections, on the other hand, may require antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria. Treatment may also involve decongestants, nasal sprays, and saline irrigation. You can also use cold treatments to manage a sinus infection, but it may require medical intervention.
Learn more about sinus congestion and treatment if your conventional methods aren’t working.
Preventing the spread of colds and sinus infections is important. Prevention is the one way these conditions are similar.
You can prevent the spread of colds and sinus infections by washing your hands, keeping your space clean and disinfected, and wearing a mask if you’re sick.
Sinus Infection vs a Cold: Similar, But Not the Same
The differences between a sinus infection vs a cold are subtle, but they matter! If you’re feeling unwell during cold season, pay close attention to your symptoms and make sure you get the proper treatment so you can feel healthy again as soon as possible!
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