March 14, 2017

Ask the Doctor – How Can I Distinguish a Cold from a Sinus Infection?

Steve North, MD, MPH, family and adolescent medicine physician with Mission Community Primary Care – Spruce Pine, addresses health and wellness questions for you and your children heading into the spring months.

Q: How can you tell the difference between a cold and a sinus infection?

A: Distinguishing between a cold and a sinus infection can be tricky at times. Initially, we will see patients with similar symptoms, such as cold symptoms when it’s believed it might be a sinus infection.

A sinus infection (sinusitis) is an inflammation of the lining in the nose and sinuses, and is also accompanied by pressure under the eyes and a headache around the third day. This is also referred to as a “double sickening.”

Nasal discharge and coughing, and possibly a fever, are signs of a cold. Colds usually last about five to ten days, peaking around the third or fifth day. If cold symptoms last longer than ten days, accompanied by a severe headache and pressure around the eyes, those are signs it may be a sinus infection. Your primary care provider can make this diagnosis and may prescribe an antibiotic.

Dr. North sees patients at Mission Community Primary Care – Spruce Pine. To schedule an appointment, call (828) 765-5672.