Understanding the Difference between the Common Cold and Sinusitis

It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a common cold and sinusitis. But even though the two ailments have some sy

When you’re sneezing, blowing, coughing, and dripping, you feel miserable. But are you suffering from a common cold or sinusitis, an inflammation of your sinus tissue? Even though the ailments have symptoms in common, they’re different diseases. 

Dr. Eddie Turner and his team at Marbleton Urgent Care want you to understand the difference between a common cold and sinusitis. Here’s what the ailments share, and what they don’t.

Get to know the common cold

Although we call it the common cold, the ailment is the result of more than 100 distinct types of viruses, which produce common symptoms.

These viral infections are lumped under the heading “rhinitis” (from the Greek word for nose) and usually assault your nose and throat. A cold is usually a mild condition that can cause a wide range of annoying and only semi-debilitating symptoms, including:

Colds might also produce a low fever, headache, or mild body aches.

Cold symptoms typically are at their worst in the first three-to-five days and can linger for a total of 10 days.  

What is sinusitis?

Often, a common cold leads to sinusitis, a sinus infection that causes inflammation in the nasal cavities behind your nose — or sinuses — and prevents normal drainage. When mucus builds up, you can find it hard to breathe through your nose. Other cold-like symptoms can arise, but they’re typically more severe.

Sinusitis symptoms different from a cold include:

If you have sinusitis, you might also feel pain or tenderness in your face near your eyes, nose, forehead, and cheeks. Most people find that the discomfort is worse when they bend over. 

If you have a cold that just won’t go away, it’s probably turned into sinusitis.

Here’s how to treat the ailments

When you have a cold, you can treat the symptoms but not the virus, which doesn’t respond to antibiotics.

Dr. Turner will likely recommend over-the-counter remedies such as mild pain relievers, cough syrups, and decongestants. He’ll also recommend you drink plenty of fluids and get enough rest.

Sinusitis can be the result of either a viral or a bacterial infection. Only bacterial infections respond to antibiotics, which may be indicated for your particular sinusitis.

Reducing inflammation is the main goal of sinusitis treatment. Here are some treatments that can help:

You’ll probably feel miserable with a common cold or sinusitis, but we can help. When you’re feeling under the weather, book an appointment at Mableton Urgent Care by calling 770-637-5541, or using our online booking tool.

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