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Matching your symptoms to a condition

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
Sore throatEarlyMildYesYes
Runny noseYesYesYes
Stuffy noseYesYesYes
Nasal dischargeMay be thick and yellowCloudyThin and clearThick, yellow-green
Duration5-7 days2-3 weeksEpisodicPerpetual if not treated
Generalized aches and painsYes, often severeMild
Extreme exhaustionEarly and prominent
FeverHigh (102-104), lasts 3-4 daysLow grade
Itchy nose/eyes/throatYes
Seasonal patternYesYes (Winter) YesYes
Facial painYes
Bad breathYes


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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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