Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a sinus infection and a cold?

A cold is caused by a virus. Symptoms typically include sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough, and post-nasal drip (mucus going down the back of your throat). A cold usually lasts five to 10 days.

A sinus infection is swelling in your sinuses — air-filled spaces behind your forehead, nasal bones, cheeks and eyes — that prevents mucus from draining. A primary symptom is painful pressure in your cheeks and forehead. Sinus infection can also cause the same stuffy nose, cough, and post-nasal drip as a cold, as well as thick, yellow-green nasal discharge; headache; ear fullness; and even toothache.

A sinus infection can result from you having a cold; if your cold symptoms have lasted more than 10 to 14 days, you could have developed a sinus infection. Severe or persistent allergy symptoms can also lead to a sinus infection.

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