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Is it COVID-19 or a Sinus Infection? How to Distinguish The Two?

Ujjwal started experiencing symptoms like cough, fever, and sore throat in mid-April, the time when the Covid cases in India were on a disastrous surge. Naturally, he was very scared at first but then ordered Covid tests and isolated himself. He also contacted his family doctor, Dr. Krishna, who was aware of his medical history.

Knowing that Ujjwal has had frequent sinus infections before, Dr. Krishna calmed him down and said that the symptoms overlap and it will probably be a sinus infection. He told him to wait for the results to come back. His Covid results came back and he tested negative. He then sought treatment for his sinus infection and recovered soon,

This overlap in symptoms of Covid-19 and other illnesses can easily cause the patient to panic and be anxious about their health. Thus, knowing the subtle differences between the two is essential. In this article, we’ll be comparing COVID-19 infections and Sinus Infections and take a look at how to distinguish between the two.

Sinus Infection vs. COVID-19

Symptoms are overlapping to make it difficult to determine a sinus infection or COVID-19. The symptoms of a sinus infection are very similar to the COVID-19 symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and fever. Sinus infection affects the respiratory portion while Covid-19 affects all areas of the body. 

The main difference is sinus infection takes a long time to develop into a bacterial infection, while COVID-19 will come more quickly. Coronavirus infection can be more powerful and dangerous for the ones around you. It is important to take preventive practices from the first day. 

Sinus infections are more common in people who are suffering from seasonal allergies or asthma. A sinus infection remains less than four weeks. A nose blockage caused by a deviated septum or nasal polyps may cause frequent sinus infections. The typical treatment for infection is antibiotics to clear up the bacteria causing the sinus infection. 

The loss of sense of smell is the major sign of infection for Covid-19. The symptoms for COVID-19 take two to 14-days after that have been exposed to the virus. COVID-19 symptoms include more fatigue, cough, and shortness of breath. Moreover, sinus infections and runny noses have rarely been connected with COVID. 

However, the common cold, influenza, allergies, and sinus infections have about the same symptoms as the COVID-19. This is why Ujjwal thought that he had gotten infected with Covid-19 when he was just having a sinus infection.

Symptoms of a sinus infection

Common symptoms of sinus infections may include:

  • Runny nose or cold symptoms that remain longer than seven to 10 days
  • Dripping in the throat from the nose
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling around the eyes, especially in the morning

Symptoms Of Covid-19

Common symptoms of Covid-19 may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Key differences between the two infections

A sinus infection usually starts with allergies or with a cold then evolves into a sinus infection. Sinus infections affect the respiratory portion while Covid-19 affects all areas of the body. 

With the sinus infection, you have been affected by nasal obstruction or congestion, nasal drainage, and a diminished sense of smell. And other symptoms of Covid-19 include body aches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, shortness of breath, etc.

COVID-19 infection affects a dry cough, loss of taste and smell, and, typically, more respiratory symptoms. While sinus infection causes more irritation in the face, congestion, nasal drip, and facial pressure. 

Sinus infection takes a long time to develop into a bacterial infection, while COVID-19 will come more quickly. It is important to talk with your doctor if you have any symptoms like both these infections.


Sinus infections are common and can last for several weeks. If they are chronic, they can last for even longer. Covid-19 is more powerful than a sinus infection. It results in long-term symptoms or complications. It is important to isolate yourself until you feel better and get a vaccine once you are eligible. 

Hopefully, this article will help you distinguish between the two and make informed and judicious decisions about your health and others around you. When you’re not sure about the infection, make sure you isolate yourself until you’re sure that it’s not Covid like Ujjwal. This will not only help you but also others around you.

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