How to distinguish a sinus infection from a cold – VnExpress

Unlike colds, sinus infections can be caused by both viruses and bacteria, which increase pressure on the sinuses, often causing facial pain.

Distinguishing between the common cold and a sinus infection can be difficult because the two conditions share many of the same features. In some cases, a sinus infection arises as a complication of a cold. However, they also have some differences.

Reason: The common cold is caused by infection with any of the 200 viruses, of which rthinovirus is the most common. While viruses also cause most sinus infections, more severe types often arise from exposure to bacteria. In addition, allergies and nasal polyps (tumors) in the sinuses can increase the risk of developing sinusitis.

Time: While cold symptoms usually start to improve after three to five days, sinusitis, especially if it’s bacterial, can take longer or don’t go away. If symptoms persist for 10 days or more without improvement, it may be due to sinus disease or another type of infection.

Sinus pressure, facial pain: Although you may experience some sinus pressure with the common cold, it is a frequent sign of a sinus infection. Pain and tightness in the face can also arise due to sinus congestion.

Gum: While mucus secretion from a cold is usually clear, a sinus infection produces a thicker, yellow or green discharge. A bacterial sinus infection causes your nose to produce a pus-like discharge.

The symptoms: In addition to cold symptoms such as runny nose, cough, headache; Sinus infections can cause loss of smell, higher fever, fatigue, and body aches. Fever is more common with sinus infections and may or may not occur with cases of the common cold. Halitosis is also another sign of a sinus infection.

A runny nose can be caused by a cold or a sinus infection. Image: Freepik

Sinus infection

Sinus infections arise when the sinuses – the passages connecting the mouth, ears and eyes – come into contact with a virus, bacteria, or fungus. This causes inflammation of the tissues, prevents mucus from leaving the body and makes the sinuses a breeding ground for germs. The most common risk factors for sinus infections include complications of cold; viral, bacterial or fungal infections; Nasal polyps, allergies, deviated nasal septum.

While many sinus infections are complications of the common cold. Viruses, sometimes bacteria, and fungi can cause superinfections that make it harder for the body’s immune system to fight off. Essentially, once the immune system has fought off a disease, it’s easier for other pathogens to infect. Bacterial and fungal sinus infections often arise this way.

The main symptoms of a sinus infection include runny nose, mucus in the throat, fever, facial pressure and/or pain, stuffy and runny nose, headache, loss of taste and smell, bad breath, sore throat.

The focus of treatment is on controlling the severity of symptoms. For mild cases, within the first 10 days, doctors can give patients over-the-counter medications and treat them at home. If symptoms persist or worsen after 10 days, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, decongestants, nasal steroids, etc. A sinus infection that lasts longer than 12 weeks is considered chronic. may require medical or surgical treatment.


The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system caused by a variety of viruses. Rhinovirus is the most common cause of disease of more than 200 types. Colds are usually transmitted by coughed, exhaled droplets or infected surfaces. They are highly contagious in young children, the elderly, people with respiratory conditions, and people with compromised immunity. In most cases, the disease resolves on its own. A person can catch a cold many times in a lifetime.

Symptoms of the common cold develop within 1-2 days of being infected. They usually go away within 7-10 days, with most feeling improving after a few days. Typical symptoms of the common cold include runny nose, sinus pressure, sore throat, sneezing, dry cough, headache, and body aches. If symptoms persist for more than 10 days, it’s possible your cold has progressed to a complication or another illness is causing them.

Most people do not need special treatment for the common cold. If you are sick, get plenty of rest and sleep, stay home from work or school, quit smoking or temporarily stop smoking, and stay away from alcohol and caffeine. In case of severe illness, you should see a doctor to determine if the cause is a cold or another illness for appropriate treatment.

Kim Uyen
(Follow Verywell Health)


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