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    
Fatigue/weaknessMildPronouncedMildMild
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.

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