5 Signs It’s More Than a Cold

Woman with sinus pain blowing her nose on the couch wondering if it’s just a cold or something else.

Cold symptoms are very common. But not every stuffy nose or splitting headache is caused by a rhinovirus. And you may need to speak with your doctor about the proper course of action if you’re battling something that’s not the common cold.

Even if your symptoms appear to be fairly familiar, you could be dealing with something that’s more than the common cold if you experience some of the following signs.

Sign #1: Symptoms Don’t Clear up

Typically, a cold will come and go fairly quickly. That’s because your immune system will usually be able to eliminate those specific intruders in short order. Around 3 to 7 days is the typical course for a cold. It’s possible that you may experience a particularly difficult cold that lasts somewhere around two weeks.

It might be a sign that you are dealing with something other than the common cold if your symptoms stick around longer than that. Lingering symptoms, in many cases, point to something else, like sinusitis (a sinus infection).

Sign #2: You Have a Sinus Headache

The type of headache you get from a cold and one you get from a sinus infection are really different. And that difference frequently depends on location. When you have a sinus headache, you feel a “full” feeling in your eyes and behind your nose which is usually really painful. When you have a headache from a cold, it will normally affect your entire head and probably won’t come with any pressure.

So you will probably want to schedule a consultation with us if you’re experiencing painful pressure behind your nose and eyes because it’s probably a sinus infection you’re coping with.

Sign #3: You’re Symptoms Keep Coming Back

A cold will come and go. True, there are cold “seasons” (you may catch a new cold around the time school begins, for instance). But there’s a difference between a periodic infection (because your children bring home germs) and a chronic infection.

You’re most likely experiencing an allergy if you begin to sneeze right around allergy season or if you are near a known allergen. Likewise, if you’re sneezing for three weeks in a row, you need to see a doctor to see if they can help with symptoms and make sure there’s no infection.

Sign #4: You Have a Sore Throat

Discomfort of the throat when swallowing is a pretty common cold symptom so that in and of itself is not necessarily a sign that you’re experiencing something that’s more than a cold. But a serious, chronic, or periodically sore throat can be a sign that you’re experiencing something more like a sinus infection or a different infection like strep. A cold and a sinus infection both cause sore throats due to postnasal drip.

When your sinuses and nose fill up with fluid, it needs to find a place to drain and your throat is the easiest place for it to go. Often, you’ll feel a tickle down your throat. The draining fluid then aggravates your throat. Dealing with a sore throat for a few days is usually nothing to be concerned with but if it sticks around any longer you’re probably dealing with a sinus or other kind of infection.

Sign #5: Your Stuffy Nose Lingers After Your Other Symptoms Are Gone

In some cases, a sinus infection might develop during the course of your cold or respiratory infection. The fluid gets stuck in your sinuses, where a secondary infection occurs. So if that dull ache in your sinuses remains, but your sneezing has ended, this could be a sign that such a secondary infection has occurred.

Figuring Out Your Symptoms

Determining the cause of your symptoms after you conclude that they are not being caused by a cold is the next step. Sinusitis (a sinus infection) is quite likely, and it’s something your doctor may be able to treat. In other words, if you don’t have a cold, you should make an appointment. Give us a call.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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