During the winter months, it’s perfectly normal to experience sniffling or a dry throat. But in the age of COVID-19, these symptoms, no matter how mild, can set off alarm bells. Below we review the symptoms of both sinus infections and COVID, discuss how to identify which condition you have and advise when to see a doctor.
What Are the Signs of a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, describes inflammation of the sinuses and nasal cavities. Most sinus infections are caused by viruses like the common cold. It’s also possible for the sinuses to trap bacteria, often as a complication of a cold virus, which usually requires antibiotics to treat.
Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Nasal congestion/discharge
- Facial pain/pressure
- Loss of smell
- Pressure in the ears
- Hearing loss/tinnitus
- Bad breath
Most sinus infections last less than four weeks, though they can persist 12 weeks or more, which is called chronic sinusitis.
What Are the Signs of COVID-19?
As researchers learn more about the new coronavirus, more and more symptoms continue to be added to the list. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of taste/smell
Many people also experience:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
How to Tell the Difference Between a Sinus Infection and COVID-19
With a typical sinus infection, you’ll almost certainly experience the telltale signs of congestion, facial pain/pressure and excess mucus, but you won’t see the full-body symptoms like aches, diarrhea, vomiting, rash or shortness of breath. In other words, your symptoms will likely center around the upper respiratory tract.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to have both a sinus infection and COVID. According to Dr. Anthony Del Signore, otolaryngologist at Mount Sinai, “The two are not mutually exclusive. You can have both at the same time, and that’s where things become tricky.”
When to See Your Doctor
If you exhibit any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care physician, especially if you’ve just landed at Columbia Metropolitan Airport after a trip. Most doctor’s offices now offer telehealth appointments, which means you don’t even have to leave you home.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call CENTA Medical Group today.