How Do I Tell The Difference Between A Head Cold And A Sinus Infection?

Dr. Ralph Metson answers the question: 'Is It A Head Cold Or A Sinus Infection?'

ByRalph Metson, M.D., Sinus Specialist, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
September 25, 2008, 9:54 AM

— -- Question: How do I tell the difference between a head cold and a sinus infection?

Answer: Head colds are typically caused by viruses.

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They last a few days; they're self-limiting. The drainage from the nose from a head cold is generally clear mucus. If that head cold persists longer than a week or 10 days, you begin to develop some facial pressure or headaches and the clear mucus drainage becomes discolored -- that is, yellow or greenish.

Then you think about perhaps that cold has developed into a secondary bacterial infection leading to sinusitis.

Next: Are There Any Prescription Medicines To Treat My Cold, And Do They Have Side Effects?

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