Cold, Flu or Sinusitis? The Right Treatment Means Knowing the Differences

Cold, flu, and sinusitis—the symptoms for these conditions can be similar and are often confused. Do you know the difference? Here’s how to tell.


Potential Symptoms: Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, low-grade fever

When to Seek Care: If you develop a fever that gets worse or you experience reduced urination, earache, yellow eye discharge, or thick, green nasal discharge that lasts longer than two weeks, call for an appointment to see a healthcare provider.


Potential Symptoms: High fever, chills, headache, runny nose, vomiting, ear pain, diarrhea

When to Seek Care: If your fever persists longer than three days or you experience breathing difficulties, worsening symptoms, or uncontrollable vomiting, it’s time to call your healthcare provider. If you have an underlying condition such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, or acquired immunodeficiency (AIDs), see your healthcare provider as soon as you suspect you have the flu.


Potential Symptoms: Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks and forehead, an achy feeling in the upper teeth, fever and chills, facial swelling, nasal stuffiness, yellow or green nasal discharge, clogged ears, bad breath 

When to Seek Care: If you have an underlying medical condition that makes it harder for you to fight infection or breathe properly, call your doctor as soon as you notice sinusitis symptoms. If you have had a lingering cold for seven to 10 days and develop facial pain, fever, severe cough, or ear or throat discomfort, visit a healthcare professional for an examination.

Need a primary care provider to diagnose your symptoms? Call 865-212-3618 or 800-289-9545 for a referral in your area. Many Summit Medical Group primary care sites and Summit Express Clinics offer extended hours. to see which facilities are open late.