Intro: Coronavirus and a sinus infection can have similar symptoms, such as nasal congestion, fever, and cough. How can you differentiate between the two?

Coronavirus and a sinus infection can have similar symptoms, such as nasal congestion, fever, and cough. It is important to differentiate between the two. COVID-19 is a disease that can cause what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. Most often it’s the result of an infection and can be caused by viruses, bacteria and, less commonly, fungi. 

Sinusitis can occur at any time of the year but it tends to flare up in cold and flu season and during allergy seasons. Underlying allergy inflammation can lead to sinus infections. One difference between sinusitis and COVID-19 could be that sinusitis tends to take longer, around 10 days, to develop into a bacterial infection, while COVID-19 will come on more quickly.

Important Points

  • Sinus infection is a condition in which the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed.
  • COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new virus that causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and, in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.
  • You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by washing your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and practicing social distance by avoiding close contact with people who do not live in your household.

COVID-19 vs. Sinus Infection

Dry (no mucus)
With mucus
Nasal Congestion
Sore Throat
Shortness of Breath
xIn severe cases
Bluish Lips or Face
Chills and Aches
Loss of Smell and Taste

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Digestive Discomfort
Chest Pain
Nasal Drip
Sneezing/Runny Nose
Facial Pain
Bad Breath
Swelling Around the Eyes

Neck Stiffness
Vision Changes
In severe cases

Symptoms and treatment of Sinusitis

Typically, you’ll have facial pain/pressure, headaches, nasal drainage and congestion, decreased or loss of sense of smell, tooth pain and sore throat. Treatment depends on the cause but can include medications to decrease inflammation and treat the infection. Sometimes rinsing out your sinuses can help. At home this can be done by using a nasal saline solution or Neti pot. 

Common symptoms of a COVID-19 infection may include:

    Symptoms can be similar, but there are subtle differences. The most important piece of advice at this point in time is to stay within your family unit and limit exposure. After you have identified the cause for your symptoms, you can resume your daily activities. 

    • Body aches
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Cough
    • Fatigue
    • Fever or chills
    • Headache
    • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Sore throat

      Is there a way to determine if you have sinusitis or COVID-19?

      Typically, the loss of sense of smell associated with a sinus infection is going to be accompanied by more significant symptoms such as facial pain/pressure. COVID-19 symptoms tend to have more fatigue, cough and shortness of breath. 

      Overlapping symptoms can make it difficult to determine if you have a sinus infection (sinusitis) or COVID-19. These issues are compounded when we spend long hours indoors due to the weather or quarantines.

      What you can do

      • Drink lots of water
      • Eat healthy foods
      • Exercise
      • Get adequate sleep
      • Keep chronic diseases under control
      • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
      • Stay current on your vaccines
      • Wash your hands frequently

      Black fungus and sinusitis

      With sinusitis mimicking initial symptoms of mucormycosis, also known as “black fungus”, there is panic and fear among people. This fear is driving even those with minor nasal tract or eye infections to rush to doctors.

      There are two primary types of invasive fungal sinus infections, acute and chronic.

      The acute version of fungal sinusitis is more serious and primarily occurs in people whose immune systems have been compromised. Fungi usually feed on dead organic matter, but weakened immune defences can allow fungi to begin eating tissue that is still alive.

      As the fungus reproduces, it spreads rapidly into the blood vessels, eye area, and central nervous system with devastating results. Acute invasive fungal sinusitis is a rare condition with a high mortality rate.

      Fungal infection of the sinuses can occur when fungal organisms are inhaled and deposited in the nasal passageways and paranasal sinuses, causing inflammation. The dark, moist environment of the sinuses is ideal for fungi, which can reproduce without light or food.

      Most fungal infections of the sinuses are non-invasive, meaning they won't spread to surrounding tissue.

      Symptoms are similar to a sinus infection — congestion, facial pain and swelling, and discharge — but you may be severely ill with these symptoms.

      • Nasal congestion
      • Facial pain/pressure
      • Loss of smell or foul odor in the nose
      • Nasal drainage

      Fungal sinusitis can be quite severe in anyone with a compromised immune system, and can cause:

      • Changes of the skin (pale or black)
      • Numbness of the face
      • Facial swelling of cheeks or eyelids

      Homoeopathic Treatment

      Homoeopathy is known to treat sinusitis condition effectively. There are many well-known homoeopathic remedies that can treat acute as well as chronic sinusitis. The best mode of homoeopathic treatment would always be constitutional based on individualization and totality of symptoms. There are certain specific medicines which are given for sinusitis. You can read about the homoeopathic remedies prescribed for sinusitis in various articles by different authors in this issue – “Scope and role of homoeopathy in sinusitis by Dr. Geeta Rani Arora and “Rethinking sinusitis treatment – Role of homoeopathy with experience by Prof. Dr. S. Sabarirajan and Prof. Dr. Ameerkhan Babu and ………………………

      Homoeopathic remedies used for fungal sinusitis are mentioned in the article- “Allergic Fungal Sinusitis- How Homoeopathy can Help?” by Dr. R. Valavan and Dr. Nitesh Sharma. 

      COVID-19 and Sinus Infection | Cooper University Health Care- Do you have a sinus infection or COVID-19? Author: Kara Wada, MD
      Sinus infection or COVID-19? January 20, 2021 - David Pruitt - Invasive Fungal Sinusitis (Fungal Sinus Infection)

      'Black fungus' fear driving those with minor infections to ...