Hospitality Health ER in Longview and Tyler has encountered many patients that have mistaken a cold for a sinus infection, a sinus infection for a cold, and allergies for a cold. That’s because they can actually be difficult to tell apart—even by a doctor. A headache and stuffy nose are symptoms of all three, so how can you tell the difference? Here are some key distinctions.
What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?
A sinus infection can cause pressure or an achy feeling around the nose and teeth. You may notice that the pain or pressure in your head or face gets worse when you lie down or lean forward. Other symptoms include nasal discharge, bad breath, or even a fever. Sinus infections can clear up on their own, but you may want to see a doctor if the symptoms persist for more than ten days.
What are the symptoms of a cold?
Colds are usually accompanied by a sore throat, cough, sneezing, stuffy nose, and possibly runny mucus. Even though a cold can cause a fever just like a sinus infection, symptoms shouldn’t last for more than ten days. If they do, you may have a sinus infection—not a cold. Colds tend to clear up within seven to ten days.
What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
Allergies cause many of the same symptoms as colds and sinus infections like congestion and runny nose. But one major difference is allergies can cause itchy eyes. Another key difference is that they never cause a fever. Allergies can also last all season—more commonly in spring and fall. But you can experience symptoms year-round.
How to Treat Congestion
Because sinus infections, colds, and allergies share many common symptoms, including congestion, you can try an antihistamine to help manage your discomfort.