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Nasal Congestion COVID: Is My Runny Nose Coronavirus or a Cold?

In the age of COVID-19, waking up to nasal congestion or a runny nose has never been more alarming. It’s even worse if those symptoms are accompanied with others that, in combination, foretell some form of illness. 

To help you tell the difference between a nasal congestion COVID infection and a run-in with the common cold, Florida Sinus & Snoring Specialists will use this blog to take a glance at the similarities and differences between each.

Telling The Difference Between a Cold And COVID-19

While both a cold and COVID-19 are caused by the same grouping of transmissible viruses, known as coronaviruses, the illnesses themselves are somewhat different, both in nature and in the ways that they manifest.

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A cold can make you feel miserable, though they are rarely, if ever, as severe as other common viral illnesses like the flu. Symptoms typical of a cold are:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue 
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches 
  • Aches and pains

Typically, a cold will last on average 7 to 10 days, and its symptoms can usually be kept under control by a variety of over-the-counter medications. Believe it or not, the predominance of cold-like symptoms are caused not by the virus itself, but rather by the body’s immune system reacting to the virus. With the exception of elderly individuals and those with highly suppressed immune systems, common colds are easily overcome by the body’s defense mechanism if we are patient.


COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that appeared in the year 2019. While the cold is also caused by a coronavirus, the strain that causes COVID-19 has proven to be far more contagious and deadly. This is especially true for older people and people of all ages with comorbid underlying health conditions, though there are cases in which COVID-19 has severely affected individuals with no identifiable risk factors. 

As of yet, doctors are still determining exactly how COVID-19 impacts the body. Symptoms typical of an infection seem to be:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tiredness 
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches 
  • Sore throat 
  • Lost of taste and smell
  • Diarrhea

In more serious instances, individuals may experience:

  • Bluing of the lips and face
  • Confusion
  • Acute pressure or pain in chest

Telling the difference between a nasal congestion COVID infection and a cold may require keeping close tabs on symptoms experienced and how quickly they manifest. 

For example, symptoms associated with covid are likely to appear within 2-14 days of infection, while those of a cold will begin to show within 1-3 days. In addition, symptoms like sneezing and watery eyes are quite rare in COVID-19 cases, while ones like fevers and diarrhea never accompany a cold.

Concerned About Your Sinuses? Come See Dr. Mandel Today!

Contact us today at 954-983-1211 for effective and lasting sinus infection treatment. 

Florida Sinus & Snoring Specialists – helmed by Dr. Lee Mandel, one of South Florida’s only Rhinologists – is South Florida’s premier sinusitis treatment clinic. We’ve helped thousands of patients, and we can help you too!