Cold symptoms are really common. But a serious rhinovirus is often not what’s causing that splitting headache or stuffed up nose. And you might need to consult your doctor about the correct course of action if you’re fighting something that’s not the common cold.
Even if your symptoms seem fairly familiar, you could be dealing with something other than the common cold if you notice some of the following signs.
Sign #1: Symptoms Linger
Normally, a cold will come and go relatively quickly. That’s because your immune system will typically be capable of eliminating those specific invaders in short order. As a result, colds normally last somewhere around 3 to 7 days. Certain colds that are a bit more persistent can stick around for a couple of weeks.
It might be a sign that you are experiencing something other than the common cold if your symptoms stick around longer than that. Lingering symptoms, in many instances, indicate something else, such as sinusitis (a sinus infection).
Sign #2: You’re Dealing With a Sinus Headache
There’s a difference between the standard type of headache you may get from a cold and a sinus headache. And that difference usually depends on location. A sinus infection will lead to a “full” feeling behind your eyes and nose, often, a very painful feeling. When you have a headache from a cold, it will usually affect your overall head and probably won’t come with any pressure.
So if you’re feeling that pressure and fullness behind your eyes, it’s a good bet you might be dealing with a sinus infection, and that means you might need to come in and see us.
Sign #3: You Have Symptoms Chronically
A cold will come and go. You’re more likely to catch a cold during a “cold season” like when school starts. But periodic infections during known cold seasons are not the same as “chronic” infections.
If you find yourself sneezing every spring right about the same week in April or every time you’re around cats, this could signify an allergy. But you should talk to a doctor to ensure it’s not a more serious infection if you are sneezing for more than three weeks consecutively.
Sign #4: Your Throat is Sore
If you have a sore throat, it doesn’t always mean it’s a serious infection as sore throats are a fairly common cold symptom. But it’s most likely something more like a sinus infection or strep if you have an extended or frequently returning sore throat. A cold and a sinus infection both cause sore throats because of postnasal drip.
When your sinuses and nose are filled with fluid, it has to find a place to drain and your throat is the easiest place for it to go. Post nasal drip is normally coupled with 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 be concerned with but if it hangs around any longer you’re most likely dealing with a sinus or other kind of infection.
Sign #5: Your Stuffed up Nose Lingers After Your Other Symptoms Are Gone
In some situations, a sinus infection might develop during the duration of your cold or respiratory infection. A second infection will begin when fluid gets trapped in your sinuses. So if that dull ache in your sinuses continues, but your sneezing has ended, this could be a sign that such a secondary infection has occurred.
Get to The Bottom of Your Symptoms
Once you’ve determined you don’t have a cold, the next step is going to be finding out what is triggering your symptoms. It’s pretty likely that you have a sinus infection (sinusitis) and that’s something your doctor can treat. If you have symptoms but you’re pretty certain it’s not a cold, give us a call to get diagnosed.