Are You Suffering from a Sinus Infection or Cold?

Woman blowing her nose on couch

Your nose is congested, you’ve got a pounding headache, you’re coughing, and all you want to do is go back to bed until you feel better. Of course, that’s not a bad idea — after all, when you are sick, taking it easy always helps you recuperate faster. However, you also want to know whether you’re suffering from a sinus infection or cold. That will help you figure out which course of action to take and when to seek medical attention. It’ll also determine what to tell your boss when you call in sick! Read on as we break down the differences and discuss ways to deal with each malady.

Sinus Infection or Cold?

These two conditions can cause similar symptoms. Another source of sniffling, sneezing, and pain is seasonal allergies. However, you’ll likely know if allergies affect you, so it might be possible to rule them out. But if you aren’t normally affected by allergies, you’ve likely caught a cold or a sinus infection.

Signs You’ve Caught the Common Cold

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen sinuses
  • Fever

How to Treat the Common Cold

Since colds are triggered by viruses, there’s really no way to treat them. Antibiotics will not work. The best medicine is lots of rest and plenty of fluids, say experts. You can use over-the-counter products to take the edge off your symptoms. Pain relievers, fever reducers, antihistimines, decongestants, and cough suppressants can all make you feel better. Not only that, but they will help quell your misery so that your body can get the rest it needs.

Grandma Was Right!

There’s also some evidence that the old folk remedy of eating chicken soup when you have a cold can actually make you feel better. The hot broth can help open your sinuses and promote the flow of mucus, as well as help with hydration. Chicken soup may even provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

Sinus Infections

Now that we understand the common cold better, what about sinus infections?

Sinus Infection Symptoms

  • Runny, stuffy nose that lasts more than a week
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Postnasal drip
  • Headache, especially if it worsens when you move
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Intense sinus pain or tenderness

What to Do for a Sinus Infection

Viruses and bacteria can both lead to a sinus infection. They aren’t directly caused by colds, but a cold can leave you more vulnerable to them. That’s because you introduce lots of bacteria to your nose when you have a cold, and the sinuses don’t drain as easily when they are infected. A sinus infection may go away on its own, and in the meantime you can treat it as you would a cold. OTC medications — and yes, a piping-hot bowl of chicken noodle soup — can provide relief. If your sinus infection persists longer than a week, it’s probably time to visit the doctor or urgent care facility. You’ll be prescribed a course of antibiotics, which should do the trick.

Chronic Sinus Infections

If you are prone to sinus infections and get them repeatedly, or if your infections are resistant to antibiotics, sinus surgery might be in order. The surgeon will enlarge the openings in your sinus, letting them drain more easily.

A Note on Nasal Irrigation

Flushing out your sinuses with a neti pot or bulb syringe isn’t for everyone, but some people swear by it. There is evidence that saline rinses can alleviate the symptoms of a sinus infection or cold. It’s important, however, to do this safely and carefully to avoid additional health issues.

What’s Ailing You?

No matter if you have a sinus infection or cold, a sprained wrist or strained ankle, burns or fractures, Coastal Urgent Care will come to the rescue! We accept most insurances, have shorter wait times than the ER, and are a convenient option for when your physician’s office isn’t open. Visit one of our four locations whenever you need urgent medical attention.

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