What's the Difference between a Cold and a Sinus Infection?

What's the Difference between a Cold and a Sinus Infection?

Updated June 2020.

Not sure if you have a sinus infection or a cold? The symptoms of a cold and a sinus infection may seem similar, but you can usually tell the difference if you know what to look for.

Sinus infection symptoms include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sinus pressure or facial pain
  • Headache 
  • Cough
  • Mucus in the back of the throat 
  • Sore throat 

You may be more susceptible to sinus infections if you have seasonal allergies, a previous cold, or a weaker immune system.

Cold symptoms include: 

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat 
  • Sneezing
  • Mild cough

Most sinus infections and common colds are caused by viruses, which don't require antibiotics for treatment. The best treatment is to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and use a saline spray. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days, or you have a fever, you may have a bacterial sinus infection that requires antibiotics. See a doctor online for care and medical advice anytime.

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