When you have symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, headaches, coughing, and fatigue, you may often dismiss it as a common cold. But if facial pressure sets in, along with a worsening headache, it may suggest sinusitis.
Though initial symptoms of a common cold and sinusitis may seem to be the same, both the conditions are not similar and require different treatments and care.
Common cold and its symptoms:
Common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat areas). Viruses that cause cold such as the rhinovirus are highly contagious and can spread from one person to another through air or personal contact. The symptoms of common cold usually appear in 1 – 3 days after exposure to the virus and lasts for a week or two. The symptoms of common cold are:
· A runny or stuffy nose
· Sore throat
· Slight body ache or headache
Generally, the symptoms of a common cold start to heal or disappear after a week to 10 days, after the cold has run its course. You can treat common cold symptoms at home with remedies such as steam inhalation, cold/hot compress, and OTC medicines. However, if the symptoms don’t go away or continue to worsen even after a week, it is essential to seek medical attention.
Now that we know what the symptoms of a common cold are, let us look at the causes and symptoms of a sinus infection.
What is Sinusitis?
When the above mentioned rhinovirus spread to the sinuses, it causes sinusitis. The fluid build-up in the nasal cavities can cause germs to grow, resulting in symptoms. The sinuses produce mucus that drains out from channels in the nose, thus keeping the sinuses clean and free from germs. Healthy sinuses are filled with air, but when infected, they are filled with
fluid which blocks the passages. This causes the bacteria or virus to grow and cause infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by viruses, but in some cases, bacteria or even fungus (rarely) can lead to infection. Other conditions such as nasal polyps, allergies, deviated nasal septum, or even tooth infections also contribute to the symptoms of sinus infection.
Symptoms of Sinusitis:
Some of the common symptoms of a sinus infection include:
· Post-nasal drip (mucus dripping down the back of your throat)
· Nasal discharge (thick yellow or green discharge from the nose)
· Stuffy nose or blocked nose
· Facial pressure and tenderness
· Frequent headaches
· Bad breath (Halitosis)
· Reduced sense of smell
Depending on the type of sinusitis and the severity of the symptoms, you can turn to home remedies or medicines to treat the condition.
Hot compress: You can press a hot water bag or hot compress to your face for 5 – 10 minutes every day. This will help soothe the swelling and relieve pain. Placing a warm, moist towel on your forehead and nose may also help loosen the mucus for easy draining.
Drinking fluids: Drinking lots of fluids and keeping yourself hydrated can help thin the mucus and reduce nasal congestion.
Saline spray: A saline wash or saline spray is a sterile saltwater solution that clears your nasal passages by thinning the mucus.
Over-the-counter medicines: You can use over-the-counter pain relief medicines to manage symptoms such as headaches and body aches.
Nasal decongestant: Using a nasal spray for sinuses that are blocked helps reduce congestion and provides short term relief. An effective nasal spray for blocked nose is the one which contains medications that thin the mucus, reduce inflammation, and relieve pressure in the sinus areas, such as the Naselin nasal spray.