Does COVID Feel Like a Sinus Infection?

Reviewed on 11/16/2021

Symptoms of COVID and a sinus infection (sinusitis) have some overlap, but there are some differences. Sinusitis causes more congestion, post nasal drip, and facial pressure and discomfort. COVID tends to cause symptoms such as a dry cough, loss of taste and smell, and respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath).
Symptoms of COVID and a sinus infection (sinusitis) have some overlap, but there are some differences. Sinusitis causes more congestion, post nasal drip, and facial pressure and discomfort. COVID tends to cause symptoms such as a dry cough, loss of taste and smell, and respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath).

COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, that is responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is different from other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

While some symptoms of COVID and a sinus infection (sinusitis) overlap, there are some differences. Sinusitis causes more congestion, post nasal drip, and facial pressure and discomfort, while COVID is more likely to cause a dry cough, loss of taste and smell, and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath.

Symptoms of a sinus infection include: 

  • Runny nose or cold symptoms lasting longer than seven to 10 days
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling around the eyes that is worse in the morning

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Emergency warning signs of COVID that require immediate medical attention (call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital’s emergency department) include: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse

How Is COVID-19 Diagnosed?

Doctors will first check if patients have any of the hallmark symptoms of COVID-19, and will also ask if the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus. 

  • If COVID-19 is suspected, a viral test in which a long swab is used to take a sample from the nose or throat is used, which is then sent to a lab for testing to diagnose the illness. Some tests are rapid and results are available within a few hours. Other tests may take several days to receive results. 
  • Another test that can determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection is an antibody test. This test is not helpful in diagnosing current infections because it takes up to 3 weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus. When a person has antibodies to COVID-19 they may have some protection against re-infection, however, researchers do not yet know how much protection antibodies provide or for how long any protections might last. 

What Is the Treatment for COVID-19?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases. 

Patients with mild illness are usually advised to remain home and self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus. Treatments for mild COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Pain relievers 
  • Cough suppressants
  • Rest
  • Adequate fluid intake

Casirivimab/imdevimab (Regen-COV), a monoclonal antibody combination, has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

The monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab is temporarily no longer used because it is not effective against the Delta strain of the coronavirus. 
Monoclonal antibodies are not indicated for use in severe cases.

More severe COVID-19 cases may require hospitalization and treatments may include:

  • Antiviral therapy with remdesivir 
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Antithrombotic therapy: anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy 
  • High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen 
  • Ventilation 

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a possible treatment, but studies have shown it to be ineffective with a high risk of fatal heart arrhythmias, and it is not recommended. 

Current guidelines neither recommend nor advise against the use of vitamin C, vitamin D, or zinc. Zinc should not be taken in doses above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) due to the risk of toxicity. 

How Do You Prevent COVID-19?

The best way to prevent infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is vaccination. 

FDA-Approved COVID Vaccines for Adults & Children

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all eligible individuals be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 
    • Approved for individuals 16 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for children between the ages of 5 and 11 
      • One-third the dose given to adolescents and adults, and the vaccine is delivered with a smaller needle
    • Requires 2 shots administered 3 weeks apart

COVID Vaccines with Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for Adults

Two additional vaccines have emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for use to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): 

  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires 2 shots administered 4 weeks apart
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires just one injection 

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are not yet approved for use in children. These vaccines have emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years and older. Moderna has requested full approval for its vaccine and Johnson & Johnson expects to apply for full approval later this year. 

Who Needs COVID Vaccine Booster Shots?

Certain groups of people who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18 years and older who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18 years and older who work in high-risk settings
  • Age 18 years and older who live in high-risk settings

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for individuals 18 years and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

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Reviewed on 11/16/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-use-children-5-through-11-years-age

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html

https://www.osfhealthcare.org/blog/sinus-infection-or-covid-19/