Sinus infection, allergies or common cold?

It’s that time of the year — know the symptoms of sinusitis, allergies or common cold so you get relief.

Spring in the Ohio Valley is tough — all the pollen, grass and mold spores in the air can make for a miserable couple of months for people with allergies. So tough, in fact, that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America lists Louisville as No.2 on its list of Spring Allergy Capitals.

Seasonal allergies can have many of the same symptoms as other conditions, such as the common cold or a sinus infection. Do you know how to tell the difference?

If you feel like you have a cold every spring and fall, it could be a sign of seasonal allergies. Allergies and colds can trigger sinus infections — congestion can create a breeding ground for bacteria. It is important to treat allergy and cold symptoms to prevent the development of a sinus infection.

Whether you have a cold, sinus infection or allergies, antibiotics don’t help treat these conditions most of the time. Over-the-counter medications like nasal sprays, oral antihistamines and eye drops can help relieve your symptoms. If you’re experiencing allergies, try to limit your exposure to your known triggers.

Here’s a symptom checker to help you determine if it’s a cold, allergies or sinus infection.

Signs and symptoms Cold Allergy Sinus infection
Aches and pains Sometimes Never Headache, sinus pressure, tender cheeks
Cough Usually Sometimes Sometimes
Feeling tired and fatigued Sometimes Sometimes Usually
Fever Sometimes, may be mild Never Sometimes
Itchy eyes Rarely Sometimes Rarely
Runny nose Usually; discolored discharge Usually; clear to yellow discharge Usually; discolored discharge, green or yellow
Sneezing Usually Usually Rarely
Sore throat Usually Sometimes Rarely
Stuffy nose Usually Usually Usually
Postnasal drip (mucus in throat) Sometimes Sometimes Sometimes

When should I see a provider?

Colds and sinus symptoms typically clear up in seven to 10 days. If your cold is lingering longer than 10 days or you have new or worsening symptoms, see a provider to evaluate your symptoms.Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer can help prevent spreading the bugs that can get us sick.


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