Doctor examining his patient while being COVID-19 conscious

COVID-19 Versus Sinus Infections: How to Tell the Difference

These days, experiencing the first symptoms of a viral illness can cause significant anxiety. As we head into another cold and flu season, knowing how to correctly identify sinus infection versus COVID-19 symptoms will ease your mind. Additionally, early awareness of what’s happening in your body can help you determine the best course of treatment.

Sinus Infections versus COVID 19


As the temperature drops, people tend to spend more time indoors, which results in higher odds of virus transmission. Considering we tend to see a rise in sinus infections around the start of cold and flu season, it can be difficult to know what you might be dealing with.

Both conditions can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of a sinus infection may also include dental pain, bad breath, green or yellow mucus, and facial pain.

If you have COVID-19, you may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and loss of taste or smell.

Another factor to look at is how long you’ve been sick. The symptoms of sinus infection tend to come on gradually. “Sinus infections are usually something that you’ve had for a while,” says Dr. Craig P. Chase, M.D. of Oviedo Medical Research. “It could start with allergies, it could start with a cold, and then kind of evolve into a sinus infection.”


COVID-19 is a viral illness caused by the coronavirus. A sinus infection, also referred to as sinusitis, occurs in the paranasal sinus cavities. This can happen after the sinuses become blocked, inflamed, and infected due to germs or other irritants. Conditions that can lead to sinus infection include the common cold, allergies, deviated septum, and nasal polyps.


Minor sinus infections will usually get better without antibiotics. If needed, doctors can prescribe antibiotics to treat more serious infections.

You can use over-the-counter pain relievers, nasal sprays, and decongestants to deal with symptoms until the antibiotic wipes out the infection. Exposure to warmth and steam, such as from a warm compress or sauna, may help ease symptoms as well.

Researchers haven’t yet developed a standard treatment for COVID-19. However, the FDA is continuing to work with researchers to expedite the development of new cures and treatments.

For instance, the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for treatments involving monoclonal antibodies. These antibody treatments may help the immune system fight off the illness. Researchers are also looking at whether drugs for other conditions could help patients with COVID-19.

Although some of the potential treatments look promising, vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself from severe illness or death from COVID-19.

The Four Types of Sinus Infections


This is the most common type of infection. Symptoms remain for under four weeks and improve easily with treatment or on their own.


When the infection doesn’t immediately begin to improve with treatment and lasts between four to eight weeks, it’s known as “subacute.”


When the symptoms of sinus infection last longer than eight weeks, the infection is considered chronic.


Your infections are recurrent when they happen three or more times in a year.

The treatment options for recurrent or chronic sinus infections will depend on what your doctor determines to be the cause. For example, if allergies are contributing to your sinus problems, you may need to take allergy medication or find a better way to protect yourself from exposure.

Is it a sinus infection or COVID-19? Know NOW!

If you’re wondering whether it’s a sinus infection or COVID-19, the physician-led team of professionals at MD Now can provide the answers you need. Visit any of our more than 110 clinics across Florida to be tested. Depending on your results, which typically come back within 24-48 hours, we’ll determine the best treatment plan for you.

Appointments are not necessary. Walk in to your nearest location today.