Does Cold Medicine Work on Sinus Infections? | NY Sinus Doctor

Does Cold Medicine Work on Sinus Infections?


Will any cold medicine work on sinus infections?

You’ve found something in the medicine cabinet that promises to treat your runny nose, your headache and your congestion. Is it medicine for a cold? A sinus infection? Does cold medicine work on sinus infections? Does it really matter when you just want to feel better?

The simple truth: yes. Colds and sinus infections (also known as sinusitis) have distinctly different symptoms, and because of that, they require different treatment. Some over-the-counter medicines offer benefits for both illnesses, but treatment isn’t identical. Choosing the right (specific) medications for your symptoms from the start can help speed your recovery time.

Let’s start with the basics — the difference between colds and sinus infections.

In general, cold symptoms can include:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Fever (low in adults, sometimes higher in children)

i-have-a-sinus-infectionSinus infections often have similar symptoms, but they usually last longer — a week or more, whereas colds often clear up within about a week. Typical sinusitis symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Yellow or green mucus discharge
  • More intense headache
  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Bad breath
  • Minor dizziness when moving

Using antibiotics may work—some of the time

Colds are caused by viruses, so medicines like antibiotics won’t help. Consult a doctor if you have any questions, but generally speaking, the best approach is to treat symptoms. If a headache is bothering you, an over-the-counter pain reliever might help, while a nasal decongestant could help relieve a stuffy nose.

antibiotics-for-sinus-infectionsFor sinusitis, sinus doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics ONLY if a bacterial infection is suspected as the root cause. In other cases, oral or nasal steroids are recommended, along with mucus thinners or pain relievers.

Overmedicating or masking symptoms with the wrong medications can lead to more problems, so get personalized help from the start. Our NYC sinus doctors are here to discuss your symptoms and help you come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you.


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