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.

It’s very common to experience cold symptoms. But a serious rhinovirus is frequently not the cause of that splitting headache or stuffy nose. And when you’re fighting something that’s not a typical rhinovirus, you might have to talk to your doctor about finding the best course of action.

The following signs could mean you’re dealing with something that’s more than a common cold, even if the symptoms seem similar.

Sign #1: Lingering Symptoms

A typical cold (caused by a rhinovirus) is usually pretty fast-acting. That’s because your immune system will typically be able to eliminate those specific intruders quickly. About 3 to 7 days is the typical course for a cold. Certain colds that are a bit more stubborn can last for a couple of weeks.

As a result, symptoms that last for longer than a couple of weeks, even at lower levels, might be a sign that something else is going on. Lingering symptoms, in many cases, indicate something else, such as sinusitis (a sinus infection).

Sign #2: You’re Dealing With a Sinus Headache

There’s a difference between the typical kind of headache you might get from a cold and a sinus headache. And that difference frequently depends on location. A sinus infection will lead to a “full” feeling behind your eyes and nose, often, a very painful feeling. A cold-related headache will probably be more generalized and might not have any feelings of pressure related to it.

So if you’re feeling that pressure and fullness behind your eyes, it’s a good bet you might be battling a sinus infection, and that means you might need to consult with us.

Sign #3: You’re Symptoms Keep Coming Back

You will experience a cold now and then. True, there are cold “seasons” (you might catch a new cold around the time school starts, for example). But seasonal infections during known cold seasons aren’t the same as “chronic” infections.

You are probably dealing with an allergy if you begin to sneeze right around allergy season or if you are around a known allergen. Likewise, if you’re sneezing for three weeks in a row, you need to consult a doctor to find out if they can help with symptoms and make certain it’s not an infection.

Sign #4: You Have a Sore Throat

If you’re experiencing a sore throat, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a serious infection as sore throats are a fairly common cold symptom. But a serious, chronic, or periodically sore throat can be an indication that you’re dealing with something more like a sinus infection or another infection like strep. A cold and a sinus infection both cause sore throats due to postnasal drip.

When your sinuses and nose are filled with fluid, it needs to find somewhere to drain and your throat is the easiest place for it to go. Post nasal drip is normally accompanied by a tickle in the throat. The draining fluid then aggravates your throat. Dealing with a sore throat for a few days is usually nothing to worry about but if it hangs around any longer you’re probably dealing with a sinus or other type of infection.

Sign #5: Your Other Symptoms Have Gone Away But Your Stuffed up Nose Doesn’t.

In some instances, a sinus infection may develop during the course of your cold or respiratory infection. The fluid gets trapped in your sinuses, where a secondary infection occurs. So you’re most likely experiencing a secondary infection if all your other symptoms go away but you still have a dull ache in your sinuses.

Get to The Bottom of Your Symptoms

Once you’ve established you don’t have a cold, the next step is going to be identifying what is triggering your symptoms. It’s fairly likely that you have a sinus infection (sinusitis) and that’s something your doctor can treat. If you have symptoms but you’re fairly certain it’s not a cold, give us a call to get diagnosed.

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.

Questions? Talk To Us.