This time of year, it may be difficult to detect the cause of your cold-weather sniffles. Colds, sinus infections and the flu all share many symptoms, making it difficult to figure out which treatment route to take. Understanding the underlying cause of your symptoms is key to finding relief.
How Common Are These Conditions?
According to the CDC, American adults have an average of two to three colds per year, and children tend to have more.
They estimate that more than 29 million Americans have a sinus infection or other sinus-related problems each ear.
The CDC also reports that influenza has resulted in nine to 45 million illnesses, 140,000 to 810, 000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
Identifying Your Condition
There are several factors that can help you determine which of these conditions you’re suffering from.
Overlapping symptoms of a cold, flu and sinus infection include congestion, runny nose, fatigue and cough caused by postnasal drip.
Most people with a cold will also experiencing sore throat, sneezing and perhaps mild body aches and a low-grade fever.
The flu involves most of these symptoms, but they are more severe than cold symptoms. There is typically less sneezing than with a cold, and more fatigue, body aches and higher fever. The flu may also cause vomiting and/or diarrhea.
A sinus infection should not cause body aches, but is associated with tenderness of the face, headaches, tooth pain, fever, decreased sense of smell and bad breath.
Another difference between these conditions is duration.
Colds are caused by a virus and typically run their course after three to seven days. After that, most people begin to feel better.
The fever associated with the flu typically lasts between three and five days, but fatigue and other symptoms can persist for weeks.
A sinus infection lasts longer than seven days in most cases. Many patients experience “double worsening,” meaning they begin to feel better after a few days, then feel even worse than before as the infection takes hold.
Once you know what is causing your symptoms, you can talk to a pharmacist or doctor about the best course of treatment. To schedule an appointment with PDX ENT, call today!