Is it a Cold or a Sinus Infection?

Cold or Sinus InfectionColds can leave your nose feeling stuffy, runny and congested. Most of the time, things improve within a few days. In some instances, however, nasal issues can persist even after a cold has run its course. If you’ve been dealing with a lingering sinus problem, learn whether you should seek treatment.
When it’s Just a Cold
Caused by a viral infection, colds can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, congestion, sneezing and low-grade fevers. Most colds usually last a few days and require no medical attention. Sometimes, however, sinus infections can develop and linger for weeks or even months. When this occurs, it’s important to see a doctor to determine if the cause is bacterial or viral.
When it’s a Sinus Infection
Also called acute sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, a sinus infection causes the nasal cavities to become swollen and inflamed. This can cause mucus to accumulate, resulting in a range of unpleasant symptoms, including breathing difficulties, facial pain and headache. Sinus infections also tend to come with certain telltale symptoms, including:
• Congestion
• Cough
• Yellow or green-colored discharge
• Pressure and tenderness around the eyes
• Diminished sense of taste and smell
Most sinus infections get better without the need for medical intervention. That said, because persistent sinusitis can lead to complications, it’s important to see a doctor if your sinus infection lasts longer than a seven to ten days. You should also see a doctor if your sinus infection is accompanied with a fever above 101°F.
Sinus infections are typically caused by asthma, allergies and the common cold. In some cases, however, bacterial infections can also develop. If your doctor believes the infection is caused by bacteria, he or she may prescribe antibiotic medication.

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