This content will no longer be available as of 10/11

Stay tuned for improvements we're making to our Health Information section.

When you have a common symptom like a stuffy nose or congestion, you don't always know what condition you have. Are those symptoms part of a cold, flu, allergic rhinitis or sinusitis? It is not always easy to know. Refer to the chart below to match your symptoms with the following conditions.

SymptomColdFluAllergic Rhinitis Sinusitis
CongestionYes  YesYes
CoughYesYes  Yes
DizzinessYesYes  Occassional
Sore throatEarlyMildYesYes
Runny noseYes  YesYes
Stuffy noseYes  YesYes
SneezingYes  Yes  
Nasal dischargeMay be thick and yellowCloudyThin and clearThick, yellow-green
Duration5-7 days2-3 weeksEpisodicPerpetual if not treated
Generalized aches and pains  Yes, often severe  Mild
Sweating  Yes    
Extreme exhaustion  Early and prominent    
Fever  High (102-104), lasts 3-4 days  Low grade
HeadacheRareYes  Yes
Itchy nose/eyes/throat    Yes  
Seasonal patternYesYes (Winter) YesYes
HoarsenessYes    Yes
Facial pain      Yes
Bad breath      Yes

Review Date: 6/29/2011

Reviewed By: Paula J. Busse, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M. qualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC'saccreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorousstandards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information andservices. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorialpolicy, editorialprocess, and privacypolicy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatmentof any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 2015 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication ordistribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.