cold sinus infection

A cold and a sinus infection have many overlapping symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. But, there are a few unique indicators of each condition. Look out for them to help you figure out which one you have and when to see a doctor.

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What is the Common Cold?

The common cold is caused by a virus that infects the nose and throat. It is the most commonly occurring illness in the world, and the leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. A cold typically lasts between 7 to 10 days.

No treatment is necessary for a cold. Certain over-the-counter medications, like cough medicine and pain relievers, can help relieve symptoms of a cold.

Common Cold Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

What is a Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)?

A sinus infection, or sinusitis, is the inflammation or swelling of the sinuses. Sinus infections are caused by either a bacteria or virus. A sinus infection usually lasts a few weeks. It develop from a worsened common cold, allergies, and rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose).

Sinus Infection Symptoms

In addition to cold symptoms, a sinus infection also causes:

  • Pain around the face and eyes
  • Greenish or yellow mucus
  • Chest discomfort
  • Mild fever

Most sinus infections resolve on their own in two weeks. Over-the-counter medication can help relieve symptoms of a sinus infection, but they do not speed up the recovery process.

Visit your doctor or an urgent care doctor if you don’t see any improvement after a week, your symptoms worsen, or symptoms recur frequently. Antibiotics may be prescribed in some cases when symptoms are not resolving.

About Urgent Care

Sometimes you need care right away, with no time to wait for an appointment. That’s where UPMC Urgent Care comes in. We offer prompt treatment for illnesses and injuries seven days a week, with no appointment necessary. With locations throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland, you can find immediate care close to you – even if your doctor’s office is closed. Our services include treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, physicals, prescription filling, and flu shots and immunizations. Wait times for minor injuries and illnesses are usually shorter than the Emergency Department, and we accept most major insurance. Visit our website to find a location close to you.