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Difference Between Cold and Sinus Infection

tylenolCold vs Sinus Infection

Cold or common cold (acute coryza, acute viral rhinopharyngitis, and upper respiratory infection) is a viral infection that is contagious. This infection is caused by the coronavirus or the rhinovirus. Cold is one of the most common conditions of infection amongst humans. Common cold has no definite cure but it is not fatal as well. On the other hand sinusitis or sinus infection (rhinosinusitis) is a condition of infection and inflammation of paranasal sinuses. This often caused by an infection from viral or fungal, allergic, bacterial or other autoimmune stimuli. In sinus infection, inflammation of the sinuses and the nasal region is common.

Often the symptoms of a common cold condition and that of a sinus infection are similar to a large extent. But there are certain distinct differences which distinguish one from the other. The most important difference lies in the context of how long the infection exists. Common cold generally persists for two days initiating a runny nose followed by another couple of days of stuffy nose. On the contrary if the infection is that of sinusitis, it is sure to stay for atleast 7 days at a stretch.

Sinus infections if caused by bacterial stimuli often lead to low grades of fever. Some of the other related symptoms would be headache, toothache, facial pain and swelling of the face. The pain tends to increase when the patient bends down to lift something. But common colds do not cause fever; all that happens is a body temperature exposure. The symptoms of a common cold are runny and stuffed nose, a sore throat, fatigue and a severe feeling of tiredness often similar to that of being run down, postnasal drip and lots of sneezing.

Another common point of distinction between a common cold infection and a sinus infection is that, common colds produce clear mucus in the form of nasal discharge. But bacterial sinus infections cause the discharge of yellowish or greenish mucus and may at times also contain traces of pus.


1. Common cold is a contagious viral infection whereas sinus infection is a condition of infection and inflammation of paranasal sinuses.
2. The coronavirus or the rhinovirus causes cold whereas sinus infection can be caused by viral, fungal, bacterial and allergic stimuli.
3. Common cold persists for 5 days whereas sinus infection can lead to 7-10 days of suffering.
4. Common cold doesn’t cause fever whereas sinus infection causes fever.

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1 Comment

  1. I love my neti pot and recommend nasal irrigation all the time! No, it’s not exactly killer party conversation but good habits w/ the sinuses can go a long way toward good health.
    I am a huge believer in natural cures, and in not jumping to meds or surgery too quickly. However I must say that if things get to the “chronic” stage don’t mess around. See your doctor and then if you get a ct scan make sure you know all your options (it used to be that sinus surgery was the only option. but now there are less invasive choices like balloon sinuplasty).
    That’s my two cents. Take care everybody and keep those nasal passages clean!
    –Erin G

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