When Gina Gallo, a school librarian in Lacombe, La., gets sick, she can take
care of herself. She gets her own medicine, makes her own food, and "deals with
it," as she puts it. But when her fiancé gets a cold, she says he has "a
complete system breakdown."
"The world stops and the whining is incessant," she says. "I am expected to
bring him food, take care of him, and generally treat him like the baby that he
Gallo's fiancé declined to talk with WebMD for this story. Their Mars-Venus
Although a cold and a sinus infection do have a few overlapping symptoms,
there are good indicators of each. Let’s take the common cold first.
Symptoms of the Common Cold
With a cold, there’s a cluster of symptoms including:
A run-down feeling
Runny nose with clear discharge
Post nasal drip (nasal fluid dripping down the back of the throat)
Fever is uncommon with colds in adults but can be seen in children
Colds may be accompanied by a cough and headache and last three to seven
days with or without any treatment.
The common cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Cold
symptoms usually build slowly over the course of a day or two, peak by days
three or four, then slowly improve around the fifth or seventh day.
Treating Cold Symptoms
“Treatment for a cold is supportive care, fluids and chicken soup,” says
Jordan Josephson, MD, author of Sinus Relief Now and director of the New
York Nasal & Sinus Center. “The more water you drink, the more it hydrates
you. This, number one is healthy, and number two, it gets the infection out
because it liquefies the mucus.”
Medications to make you more comfortable can also help. For example:
A decongestant may decrease drainage and open the nasal airways, making
Pain relievers can reduce fever and relieve headache.
A cough medication may help suppress coughs or expel the mucus that’s
causing the cough.
Sometimes colds can set in the sinuses and cause swelling, which prevents
the flow of mucus. These colds can actually turn into a sinus infection.
How will you know if that’s what’s happening? Josephson says if after two or
three days with a cold, you feel worse and start to blow a green or yellow
discharge from the nose, you may need to see your doctor or a sinus specialist
to sort out your symptoms. You may have indeed developed a sinus infection.
Symptoms of a Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
“They always make my face hurt, the back of my neck and here lately, as I've
gotten older, my top teeth have gotten in on the act,” says Toni Synder, 49, of
Kansas City, Mo., about her chronic sinusitis. It’s not uncommon for the roots
of upper teeth to run into the sinus cavity, causing the pain.
Health experts estimate 37 million Americans are affected by sinusitis every