It is often hard to differentiate between colds and sinus infections since they both have similar symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, congestions and a general feeling of discomfort. Here are some facts that can help you distinguish between the two. 

When you have a cold

Catching a cold can be irritating especially when you need to deal with a stuffy nose and mucus build-up. A cold is a common illness caused by a tiny virus. There are up to 200 types of viruses that are thought to cause colds; however, one of the most common viruses that is responsible for at least 50% of colds is known as the rhinovirus. Other viruses that are responsible for causing colds are the coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and parainfluenza.

Other symptoms of having a cold include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever
  • Swollen sinuses

How is it different from a sinus infection?

Sinus infection or sinusitis refers to the inflammation of the tissue that lines the sinuses. The few conditions that promote sinus blockage are:

  • Common cold
  • Allergic rhinitis, i.e. the swelling of the lining of the nose
  • Nasal polyps, i.e. small growths in the lining of the nose
  • Deviated septum, i.e. a shift in the nasal cavity

 A sinus infection can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Pain or pressure on the face
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Cough or congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Dental pain

It is also important to take note that there are a few types of sinusitis. These are:

  1. Acute Sinusitis, also known as Acute Rhinosinusitis, which is the inflammation of the membranes lining the nose and sinuses. This lasts for less than four weeks
  2. Subacute Sinusitis, which occurs when symptoms last from four to 12 weeks
  3. Chronic Sinusitis, which occurs when the symptoms last for more than 12 weeks

The common signs of chronic sinusitis are:

  • Congestion or fullness in your face
  • Nasal obstruction or nasal blockage
  • Fever
  • Runny nose or discoloured postnasal drainage
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste

Now, you know the differences between a common cold and a sinus infection. Watch out for the symptoms and be wise to consult a doctor when you have any of these symptoms for a prolonged period.

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