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Recognizing the Difference between an Allergy, a Common Cold and a Sinusitis

By Edited Oct 28, 2016 1 0
Cold banner
Credit: wikimedia common - CDC (public domain)

Are you suffering from an allergic reaction, a common cold or sinusitis? This can be misleading since these three medical conditions have the same symptoms. If you don’t know the difference, you will not be able to take the right treatment or medicine. Hence, your condition may either last longer than the usual duration or worsen especially if it is an infection. So; to help you recognize the difference between allergies, common colds and sinusitis; here is a detailed characterization of these three illnesses. 

Allergies

Between these three illnesses, an allergy is very distinguishable. This is because most people with allergies have seasonal allergens. Meaning, there is a specific time of the year when hypersensitivity reaction is triggered. Furthermore, if you know your poison or allergen, you can easily discern if you're exposed or not. Hence, compared to common colds and sinusitis that take hours to progress, allergies immediately occur upon exposure to allergens.

Another difference between allergies, common colds and sinusitis is the presence of fever. Basically, fever is a sign of an infection and allergies is not one. Having said that, you will know that you're suffering from an allergic reaction if your temperature is still within the normal range. Other symptoms that will indicate it's an allergy are frequent sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose.

As for treatment, there are antihistamines and nasal sprays you can buy without prescription. These medications can effectively alleviate your symptoms. However, if you are dealing with a severe hypersensitivity reaction, it is best that you consult a medical professional for a more appropriate medication. You might also want to read this article entitled "Useful Tips to Prevent and Cope with Allergies" for some preventive measures you can use during allergy season.

Girl with colds
Credit: CDC - Betty G. Partin (public domain)

Sinusitis or common colds?

Moving on to the difference between allergies, common colds and sinusitis are the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection. This part of this article is very important because colds and sinusitis have almost similar symptoms. Furthermore, most people misinterpret this condition as an allergic reaction. For that reason, they neglect to seek medical help and their condition aggravated. With that, you will know that you have sinus infection when you feel facial tenderness or pressure. Slight fever, exhaustion, headaches and nasal congestion are also experienced during a sinus infection. If you are experiencing all these symptoms, you should seek medical attention before your condition worsens.

What about the common colds? Basically, the main difference between a sinus infection and a cold is the duration of illness. Typically, a cold will only last for three to seven days. If it lasts more than seven days, it can either be an allergy or infection. In addition to that, if you are suffering from an infection, you will typically secrete green, yellow or white mucus. Hence, if you have a runny nose and you have a clear mucus, all you need is some bed rest and to increase your fluid intake. You can also take a decongestant to relieve nasal congestion. But, remember that decongestants should only be taken for a maximum of three consecutive days to avoid experiencing the "rebound effect".

With that, hopefully you can recognize the difference between allergies, common colds and sinusitis. If you are not sure of your symptoms, don't self-diagnose or leave it untreated. You should always consult a physician especially if your condition didn't ease after seven to ten days for proper treatment.

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Bibliography

  1. "Decongestants: OTC Relief for Congestion." Family Doctor.org. 20/01/2013 <Web >
  2. "The Difference between Seasonal Allergies and a Cold." 3 Fat Chicks. 20/01/2013 <Web >
  3. Liza Barnes "Is It a Cold or Allergies?." Spark People . 20/01/2013 <Web >
  4. COURTNEY HUTCHISON "Allergies or Chronic Sinusitis? Most Get It Wrong and Don't Get Treated." ABC News . 20/01/2013 <Web >

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