Winter is officially here, and with the drop in temperature you may be feeling under the weather. But if you're like millions out there, you may not know how to tell the difference between a cold and sinus infection. Both can make the holidays miserable, both may include similar symptoms, but treatment will differ and it is important to know the difference so you can get back to feeling your best.
The Common Cold
The common cold is a virus that mutates rapidly (that's why there's no effective vaccine like the flu). Symptoms include:
Cough with phlegm
The common cold usually lasts no more than a week and recovery is relatively easy. Symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medicine and supplements. The common cold does not require a prescription for antibiotics, as antibiotics are meant for bacterial infection, not a virus. Self-care can include nasal lavage (Netipot), throat lozenges, menthol chest rub and more.
A sinus infection differs from the common cold in that the infection is generally relegated to the sinus cavities. Sinus infections can be triggered by the common cold or by allergies, or may be cause by bacterial infection. The sinus passages become inflamed and symptoms can include:
Pain Behind The Eyes
Pain Behind The Ears
Pain in Forehead
Loss of Smell
Treatment of a sinus infection depends on the severity, though chronic sinusitis may require antibiotics. If you exhibit symptoms lasting longer than 7 days or accompanied by high fever, please see your doctor. Treatments may include decongestants, steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antihistamines. Self-care can include nasal lavage (Netipot, saline rinse). If you experience frequent sinus infections, you should see your doctor about treatment.