Signs That You Have a Sinus Infection Instead of a Cold

Posted on: 5 May 2017

If you have seasonal allergies and also contract at least a few colds every year, then it can probably be hard to tell if you are having a cold issue or an allergy one. If you are familiar with colds and allergies, then it may be even more confusing to figure out if you are developing a sinus infection or not. Keep reading to learn about some signs that you are indeed developing a sinus infection.

Long-lasting Symptoms

Contrary to what you may think you know, sinus infections do not always require treatment. In fact, some minor sinus infections, caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, or colds, can get better on their own. This is also true of some ear infections as well. About 70% of sinus infections go away on their own in about two weeks.

The length of time that it takes for the infection to clear up is one thing that can clue you in that you have an infection in the first place. Most colds go away in about seven to ten days, and seasonal allergy symptoms come and go or stay about the same depending on the season. 

While some sinus infections can go away on their own, it is wise to see a doctor if symptoms get worse or seem to remain consistent without getting better after 10 days. An antibiotic may be needed to clear up the infection. 

While some infections can clear up on their own, you should know that this is likely to change within the coming years. Bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. While there has been some research that suggests that new antibiotic medications may be discovered and synthesized soon, doctors are currently using the same antibiotics they have been using for decades. 

Since it is important to seek out care for sinus infections that do not clear up, mark on your calendar when you start to feel significant sinus pressure and pain. If you mark 10 days, then it is time to make arrangements to see your physician.

You Notice Pus

If you have a cold, then you are very likely to see either yellow or green discharge coming out of your nose. You are likely to see very thick discharge if you are having an allergy problem. While many people believe that the green and yellow discharge is due to the bacteria in the mucus, this is not the case. The discoloration is actually due to the buildup of dead white blood cells that travel to the nose to help fight off the virus, fungi, or bacteria in the region. 

This means that the green and yellow discharge is common whether you have a cold, an allergy outbreak, or a sinus infection.

While the discharge is common, there is something distinctive that you might notice with a sinus infection. The discharge coming from your nose will appear discolored as well as opaque. In some cases, the mucus will have a white appearance and it will smell. These are the signs of pus developing. 

Pus is a combination of white blood cells, bacteria, dead tissues, mucus, and fluid that is pulled from the site of the infection. A large number of white blood cells accumulate when a bacterial infection begins. The numbers are greater than if you contract a virus. This is one reason why the pus is thicker and more opaque than green tinted mucus. 

Another thing that you may notice is that pus releases a foul odor. This odor comes from the dead white blood cells. Their significant numbers, as well as an antibacterial protein that is released by the cells is what causes the smell to develop.