Difference Between Sinus Infection and Cold

One of the commonest complaints a patient seeks a doctor is for upper respiratory tract symptoms. In that anatomical area, infective causes prevail over the others and these conditions cause great debility, thus reducing personal efficiency and invariably accounting for a reduction in the GDP of the country. Of the upper respiratory tract infective diseases afflicting the adults, cold and sinus infection are two of the commonest conditions you will encounter. Though, at presentation, they might not show any significant debility or the possibility of mortality, these conditions can cause complications, which may lead to mortality.

Sinus Infection

The sinuses can be considered as hollow areas in the skull, which function to reduce the weight of the skull and form a conduit for the neurovascular bundles. A sinus infection may be acute or chronic. It will present with fever, heaviness in the head and face, aggravated on bending forward. Headache, post nasal drip with production of yellowish sputum indicates that this condition is most probably due to a bacterial infection. The acute condition will be managed, using specific antibiotics to combat the most probable bacteria. But in chronic conditions, surgery may be required to drain the chronically obstructed sinus opening or to make a dependent burrow into the cavity.


A cold is an infection, anywhere in the respiratory tract, due to a viral pathogen. Cold usually has an occurrence according to the seasonal variation or the raining variation. Those who are afflicted will present with generalized ill health, discharge of whitish secretions, post nasal drip and sore throat. They may also present with cough and fever, as well. There is a propensity to develop secondary pneumonia following a secondary bacterial infection. Management of this condition involves symptomatic management; as this is only a virus, antibiotics will not have any effect on it.

What is the difference between Cold and Sinus Infection?

Thus, both these conditions are that of upper respiratory tract. Both are due to infective causes, and may be due to preceding viral causes, which are superimposed with bacterial causes.

• Both present with complaints of body ache, headache, fever, nasal block, runny nose, water discharge, etc.

• Both conditions can be managed with medications and adequate rest. Lest properly managed can lead to disastrous complications.

•  Sinus infection involves the sinus cavities of the skull, whereas the cold only involves the mucous membranes.

•  Sinus infection is mainly due to bacterial, whereas the cold is due to viral agents.

•  The headache in sinus infection is much heavier than in the cold, with the heaviness aggravating when bending forward.

•  The fever in the sinus infection is greater, and the nasal discharge is more yellowish than in the cold, where it might be clear, as well.

•  In the case of cold, the nasal block will be relieved in a couple of days, whereas in the sinus infection, it might persist for some time.

•  Management of the sinus infection requires antibiotics, whereas the cold does not.

•  The persistent sinus infection may require surgical drainage but the cold will not.