With everything that’s going on in the world today, any sign of illness might worry you. This is especially true about the possibility of contracting COVID-19. However, you may be experiencing symptoms that you’re not sure about. In some cases, you might wonder if you have a sinus infection or COVID.

There may be similar symptoms, but it’s important to distinguish between the two. In this post, we’ll look at the signs of COVID-19 vs. those of a sinus infection. We’ll also advise you about the best course of action when it comes to seeking medical attention.

Sinus Infection or COVID: Similarities and Differences

Your sinuses are located behind your face. They are connected, hollow cavities that reach inside your skull, and the most prominent sinuses are in your cheeks. In a sinus infection, fluids accumulate inside them and allow bacteria and viruses to thrive.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19, and indeed, high quantities of the virus can be found in the nasal regions and the sinuses. This is why there is some overlap between the symptoms of the two conditions.

Symptoms common between COVID-19 and sinus infections are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Persistent headache
  • Sore throat and cough
  • A congested or runny nose

However, COVID-19 can show symptoms with much more severity and diversity than a sinus infection. These include acute shortness of breath and a loss of sense of taste and smell. You may also experience irritation of your digestive tract, resulting in diarrhea or nausea. Also, you may feel that some parts of your body ache or are sore.

On the other hand, sinus infections can exhibit localized pain in the region where the sinuses exist. This can be around the cheekbones, eyes, and forehead. You might also experience postnasal drip (accumulation of mucus at the back of your throat). The mucus might also take on a darker color and taste or smell more pungent.

Severity, Onset, and Duration of Symptoms

COVID-19 is mainly distinguished by the severity, onset (how soon symptoms appear), and duration of symptoms.

While COVID symptoms appear slowly, about 2 days to 2 weeks after exposure, sinus infections can show dramatic and sudden symptoms. Note that if you’re experiencing the symptoms of a sinus infection after you’ve been sick for a while, you likely have a sinus infection.

However, COVID-19 lasts from one to two weeks, while sinus infections take up to three weeks to resolve.


Even if you seem sure whether you have a sinus infection or COVID, be sure to speak to a doctor, especially if your symptoms don’t subside. COVID-19 has severe symptoms, and you should inform medical staff at your clinic before you arrive so that they can take the necessary precautions.

We’re proud to be your premier primary care physician at the Internal Medicine Diagnostic Center in Magnolia and Houston, Texas. We’re fully equipped for in-house procedures as well as lab testing. Give us a call at (281) 252-8600 for our Magnolia or Houston locations, or request an appointment at mytexasmd.com.

We look forward to helping you and your family on your road to better health.

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