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What Are the Most Common Cold and Sinus Problems?

Nicole Long
Nicole Long

There are many common cold and sinus problems. Symptoms associated with the common cold include nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat and a general run-down feeling. Sinus infections often cause facial pain, congestion, and headache.

Differences between common cold and sinus problems begin with how they start and how long they last. Common colds stem from a viral infection, while sinus problems can stem from either a bacterial or viral infection. With common colds, symptoms last from three to seven days and often resolve on their own. Sinus infections and inflammation tend to last longer and can flare up several times a year.

A cross section of the head, including the sinuses.
A cross section of the head, including the sinuses.

The common cold causes a variety of symptoms that reach their peak around days three and four. This includes a feeling of fatigue, sneezing, post nasal drip, and sore throat. Sufferers may experience coughing and a headache along with a common cold. Children with a common cold may display a fever, but this is not a common sign of a cold in adults.

Symptoms of a common cold can impede a person’s ability to accomplish ordinary daily tasks. While the symptoms can interfere with daily life, medications are available to help treat the symptoms of the common cold. These medications, in conjunction with plenty of fluids, can help someone suffering from the common cold recover within seven days.

Common cold symptoms can include a sore throat.
Common cold symptoms can include a sore throat.

Common cold and sinus problems both include congestion and headache, but several differences exist. Most often, sinusitis or a sinus infection will include pain or pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and upper teeth. Nasal discharge is also typically yellow or green.

At times, a common cold can lead to a swelling of the sinuses. Those who believe they are having a recurrent cold may be experiencing several rounds of acute sinusitis. Colds typically only occur once a year, while sinus problems can happen several times a year or have symptoms that can last for up to 12 weeks at a time.

Sneezing and a runny nose are common cold symptoms.
Sneezing and a runny nose are common cold symptoms.

Common cold and sinus problems can resolve on their own, but those suffering from cold and sinus problems may need medication to resolve the infection or inflammation. Possible sinus treatments include decongestants, antihistamines, and antibiotics if the sinus problem lasts longer than 10 days and is related to a bacterial infection. Nasal sprays and neti pots can also help clear up sinus problems. Only severe cases of sinusitis will require surgery to enlarge the sinus cavity to relieve discomfort.

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    • A cross section of the head, including the sinuses.
      By: turhanerbas
      A cross section of the head, including the sinuses.
    • Common cold symptoms can include a sore throat.
      By: absolutimages
      Common cold symptoms can include a sore throat.
    • Sneezing and a runny nose are common cold symptoms.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Sneezing and a runny nose are common cold symptoms.
    • A cold may lead to a swelling of the sinuses.
      By: auremar
      A cold may lead to a swelling of the sinuses.
    • Allergies may cause sinus problems.
      By: psd photography
      Allergies may cause sinus problems.