Everyone's Favorite Fall Game: Do I have a Sinus Infection or a Cold?

AdobeStock_271401993.jpgFall is a beautiful time of year, but as the weather gets cooler many of us find ourselves spending more and more time indoors. This means that it’s easier to catch Colds or a nasty Sinus Infection. If you do get a Cold or Sinus Infection, do you know how to tell one from the other?

First, let’s go over the common symptoms of a Sinus Infection:

  • Sinus Congestion
  • Sinus pressure around your eyes and cheeks
  • A stuffy, runny nose that lasts more than a week
  • Colored Mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Sinus Pain
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Thick postnasal drip
  • Decreased sense of smell

Sinus infections can develop on their own, or as a result of an illness such as a Cold. They are caused when mucus becomes trapped in the sinus cavity and this can cause intense pain around the eyes, cheeks, and the bridge of your nose. A common symptom is also mucus that tends to be thick and discolored. It can even cause bad breath. Sinus infections often clear up on their own, but you need to see your doctor if it lingers for over a few weeks.

Next, let’s go over the common symptoms of a Cold:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Chest congestion
  • Watery eyes

If you are feeling really run down, achey, and even running a fever, it’s possible that you have a cold. Colds can also start suddenly and then begin clearing up after several days. They can come with whole body aches and pains, and also include sore throats, headaches, and a runny nose. In most cases they tend to improve after 5 days, and clear up after 7-10 days.

With so many overlapping symptoms though, how can you tell whether it’s a Sinus Infection or a Cold? Here are four ways to tell the difference:

Do you have sinus pressure? If you answered “yes” then you probably have a sinus infection.

How long have you had your symptoms? Colds usually improve after 5 days, so if you’re not feeling better after a week then it’s likely a sinus infection.

What color is your mucus? If it’s clear, then you’ve probably got a cold. If it’s a yellow or green color, you’re likely experiencing a sinus infection.

Is your breath less than fresh? If you have really bad breath, then it’s very possible that you have a sinus infection.

If you’ve compared your symptoms and you’re still not sure what’s causing them then it’s a good idea to see your doctor - especially if you’re running a fever and haven’t improved in a couple of weeks. If you suspect that you have a sinus infection, then you should definitely see a doctor. If left untreated for too long, sinus infections can lead to chronic health issues. That’s certainly something that you want to avoid.