Q: How can I know the difference between a cold and a sinus infection?
A: A cold is caused by a virus, and typically includes symptoms such as sore throat, cough, headache, nasal congestion, fatigue, and even fever. Colds do not respond to antibiotics and usually subside within 10 days. Green or yellow mucus can occur, but should slowly improve after the first few days. It’s best to choose over the counter treatments that address only the symptoms present to avoid unwanted side effects. A sinus infection can be triggered by viruses, bacteria, or allergies. Symptoms are often the same as with a cold, but are more severe and last over seven days with little to no improvement. Typically, there is one-sided facial/dental pressure and pain. Green or yellow mucus by itself does not signify a need for antibiotics, especially if symptoms have been present for less than a week. Nasal saline rinse and over-the-counter medications can also ease symptoms and lessen the need for an antibiotic.
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