How Can You Tell If You Have a Cold or a Sinus Infection?

When you’re feeling ill and sinus pain and pressure are keeping you awake all night long, you probably don’t care if a cold or a sinus infection is to blame – you just want it to go away. But figuring out whether a common cold or an infection is the root cause of your malady could make a difference when it comes to finding the appropriate treatment. And understanding the symptoms that accompany each ailment could help you to determine what’s causing your discomfort. So here are a few clues to help you figure out what ails you.

One clear indication of your situation is the duration of your illness. Colds don’t tend to last more than a week or two on average, but a sinus infection could drag on much longer, getting worse the longer you go without treatment, although it will likely go away eventually. Of course, you might not want to wait it out when you’re feeling awful. But there are other signs and symptoms you can look for in order to determine if your ailment merits a visit to the doctor or if you should simply get lots of rest and fluids until it goes away.

A cold could present all manner of symptoms, including a stuffy/runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, excess mucus, headache, fatigue, and possibly even a low-grade fever. In other words, you’re bound to feel pretty run down and you’ll likely experience any number of sinus issues. A sinus infection will likely create similar symptoms, but they may be more severe, they will almost certainly get worse over time, and you’ll likely suffer additional symptoms.

A stuffy nose and sinus pressure are pretty much a given, and you could also experience a cough, headache, and fatigue in association with a sinus infection. With any type of infection you will almost certainly have a fever, as well. And you’ll notice worsening symptoms such as increasing mucus production that may be thick and colorful. It sounds pretty gross, but the color and thickness of your mucus is a pretty good indicator of whether or not you’re dealing with an infection. The most obvious sign of a sinus infection, though, is the extreme sinus inflammation, pain, and pressure you’ll experience, as well as the duration of your symptoms.

Still, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which type of malady you’re suffering from. In the event that you’ve covered cold and sinus problem causes and gone through your symptoms and you’re still not sure whether you’re suffering from a cold or sinus infection, your best bet is to see your primary care physician for a checkup and diagnosis. Generally speaking your doctor will be able to pinpoint the illness you’re suffering from and prescribe a course of antibiotics, or at least give you some options to relieve your symptoms while you recover from a cold. But if problems persist and it turns out that your situation is more serious, you might want to get a referral to a special facility like the St. Louis Sinus Center for further testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

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