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The Common Cold
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose, nasal cavity, mouth, throat, and voice box. Cold symptoms include a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, mild headaches, mild body aches, and a general sense of malaise or fatigue. These symptoms typically appear within one to three days of exposure and disappear within about a week. A number of different viruses can cause colds including several types of rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Cold-causing viruses are most prevalent during the winter months but can be active year-round. Children under age 6 are at greatest risk of catching colds. Other risk factors include smoking and having a compromised immune system due to chronic illness.
A sinus infection—or sinusitis—is an inflammation or swelling of the sinuses. The sinuses are essentially a network of interconnected hollow spaces in the bones around the nose; normally, these spaces are filled with air and lined with a protective mucus. When the sinuses become blocked with fluid, infection can result. Sinus blockages can be caused by the common cold, allergies, an irregularly shaped nasal cavity, or a suppressed immune system. If you experience facial pain or pressure, a loss of smell, or any cold-like symptoms lasting 10 days or more or recurring frequently, then you may have a chronic or recurrent sinus infection and should seek medical care.
Colds, Flus, and Allergies
Since colds, flus, and seasonal allergies all affect the respiratory system and have some overlapping symptoms, some rules of thumb can help you tell them apart. If your cold-like symptoms are severe and/or are accompanied by a high fever, then it is more likely that you have the flu because cold symptoms are typically mild and not accompanied by fever. If you have itchy and/or watery eyes, then you may be having allergic reaction to dust, pollen, or another environmental trigger. The best way to determine the best course of treatment is to see a doctor—perhaps an online doctor for sinus and cold symptoms.
Treatment & Care
Common colds are generally not serious or harmful in the long run. Treatment may involve drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest, and using over-the-counter remedies such as throat lozenges, nasal decongestants, and antihistamines. However, there is no known directed therapy fo the common cold. Most people recover from the common cold on their own. A severe secondary sinus infection may require treatment with antibiotics. If you have cold symptoms or a sinus infection and need advice or treatment, our online doctors for colds and sinus infections are available anytime, anywhere for online doctor visits from the comfort of your home.