Is It a Cold, Allergy, or Sinusitis?

May 17, 2011

Is It a Cold, Allergy, or Sinusitis?

Have you ever had a cold or allergy attack that wouldn’t go away? If so, there’s a good chance you actually had sinusitis. Experts estimate that 37 million people are afflicted with sinusitis each year, making it one of the most common health conditions in America. That number may be significantly higher, since the symptoms of bacterial sinusitis often mimic those of colds or allergies, and many sufferers never see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis vs. a cold or allergy?


Nasal Discharge Cloudy or colored Clear, thin, watery Thick, whitish

Nasal Congestion Often Sometimes Yes

Facial Pressure /Pain/Fullness Often Sometimes Sometimes

Duration of Illness 10 days or longer Varies Under 10 days

Double-worsening* Sometimes No No

Fever Sometimes No Sometimes

Pain in Upper Teeth Sometimes No No

Bad Breath Sometimes No No

Coughing Sometimes Sometimes Yes

Sneezing No Sometimes Yes

*Initial improvement followed by worsening within the first 10 days

Because the symptoms of sinusitis sometimes mimic those of colds and allergies, you may not realize you need to see a doctor. If you suspect you have sinusitis, review these signs and symptoms. If you suffer from three or more, you should see your doctor. Visit for more information on ear, nose, and throat health.

Copyright American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery

Dr Oliver's goal is to provide his patient's with the most up to date and relevant health news relating to the Ears, Nose, Throat, and Allergy. Check back often for seasonal information. If you have question about this article or any other questions or concerns, please feel free to send an e-mail via our Contact Us page, call us at 585-342-2080 or stop by our office at 1295 Portland Ave, Suite 24, Rochester NY 14621.