What is the difference between a common cold, the flu, and a sinus infection?  It is a common question we receive here are Orlando Ears, Nose, and Throat. Common signs of all of them include sore throat, runny nose, and sneezing. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, over 29 million people in the Untied States have sinus related problems or sinusitis infections every year.

Over 12,000 people a year die from complications from the flu. And the average person has two or three colds a year. 

How can you tell the difference between a common cold, the flu and a sinus infection?

Appearance of symptoms    

The symptoms for the flu can develop in just a few short hours. But a sinus infection and cold progress tend to take more time to develop. 

How long the symptoms last 

Typically it takes a few weeks to recover from the flu. Three to five days for a cold to ‘peak’ and you can suffer from a sinus infection for well over a week. 

Facial Pressure and pain 

Sinus infections are notorious for having pain and pressure behind and around the eyes.


Colds don’t typically have fevers, but sinus infections and the flu can be associated with a higher than normal temperature. 

Chills and sweating

The flu tends to be produce sweating and chills.

Runny nose

A nasal discharge can be an indication of the problem. In most cases a sinus infection has a green or yellow discharge, while a cold has clear mucus. 

If you are experiencing a severe headache, stiff neck, double vision, high fever or confusion, whether you think it is a cold, flu, or sinus infection, you should definitely contact a doctor without delay.

The most dependable way to know whether you have a sinus infection or just a cold, is to visit Orlando Ears, Nose & Throat. An accurate diagnosis is the first step to a customized treatment plan and you feeling better than ever!

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