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Are Sinus Infections Contagious

Are Sinus Infections Contagious? Here’s How You Can Prevent It

Sinus infection is an excessively common illness – Having said that, being an adult in the United States, there are high chances that you have experienced a sinus infection. Popularly referred to as sinusitis, this type of infection is reported to affect as many as 30 million American adults in just a span of one year.

People who’ve experienced sinus infection have constantly complained of the severe discomfort that it brings along with it, and can even induce pain at times. Some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis are inclusive of nasal congestion, runny nose, sinus pressure, fatigue, fever, and headaches.

In this article, you will learn everything you should know about sinus infections, including their symptoms, treatment, and the most commonly asked question: “Are sinus infections contagious?”

What Is A Sinus?

Present within the nasal passages, our sinuses are basically cavities or can also be described as air-filled pockets. Our sinuses are the parts responsible for producing mucus, which is a fluid meant to cleanse the bacteria and other harmful particles right out of the air we breathe.

Sinus Infection Symptoms

While the symptoms of sinus infection may not be life-threatening, they are extremely uncomfortable for the person experiencing them. Some symptoms are exclusive to each individual, however, some symptoms are common for all.

The most commonly reported symptoms of sinus infections are inclusive of:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Bad breath
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Headache
  • Post-nasal drip i.e. mucus dripping down the throat
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial pain or pressure

Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

If the sinus infection that you are dealing with is contagious or not, entirely depends on the kind of infection you have developed, as sinusitis is mainly caused by three factors; viruses, bacteria, and allergies.

Developing sinus infection due to a virus is the most common of all causes, which is usually led by a cold or flu. People who have developed sinusitis condition due to either flu or cold, are the conditions when you would be considered contagious to the people they interact with.

However, a sinus infection can not be transmitted in a direct manner – what you can transmit is the viral flu or cold to the other people around you, which caused you to develop the sinus infections in the first place, not the sinus infection itself.

Having said that, everyone you transmit the viral flu or cold to will not develop a sinus infection, they might end up getting sinusitis, but not all; most would just develop a general cold or flu symptoms.

Lastly, the other two causes i.e. bacterial and allergic sinus infections, neither are contagious at all.

How Long Are Sinus Infections Contagious For?

If you are experiencing a viral sinus infection, you can’t spread the sinus infection to other people, but you sure can pass along the virus causing the sinusitis. And the person who catches the virus from you is then at a higher risk of developing a sinus infection. With a fully developed sinus infection you may be contagious to the people around you for at least two weeks, or even more in some cases.

Sinus Infection Treatment

Sinus infection can be treated using several ways – that are opted based on the severity of sinusitis.

A general sinusitis infection can easily be treated with:

  • Nasal saline irrigation
  • Drinking fluids
  • Decongestants
  • Over-the-counter cold and allergy medications

If the symptoms that you are experiencing do not get better even after the next 10 days of treatment, you might be prescribed:

  • Antibiotics (for seven days in adults and 10 days in children).
  • Oral or topical decongestants
  • Prescription intranasal steroid sprays

People with chronic sinusitis need to be treated with a focus directed on the underlying condition. This can be treated using:

  • Intranasal steroid sprays
  • Topical antihistamine sprays or oral pills
  • Leukotriene antagonists to reduce swelling and allergy symptoms
  • Rinsing the nose with saline solutions

If the sinus infection is not treated by any of the treatments mentioned above, then a CT scan is required to get a better insight into the condition of the sinuses. Based on the CT scan results, you might need surgery in order to correct the structural problems in your sinuses. This situation might be caused based on polyps and/or a fungal infection that you might have developed.

How To Relieve Sinus Pressure?

To relieve sinus pressure, home remedies are very effective – The most effectively proven remedy is the use of a warm compress. The use of a warm compress over your forehead and nose is beneficial in relieving the pressure from your sinuses.

How To Drain Sinuses?

Moistening your sinus cavities work best when it comes to draining the sinuses. How it’s done is that you drape a towel over your head as you breathe in the vapors from a bowl of hot water, while maintaining the direction of vapors towards your face. Another helpful thing is the hot shower – when you breathe in the warm, moist air in the shower, it helps ease pain and help mucus drain.

How To Avoid Allergic Sinusitis?

Allergic sinusitis can be avoided by refraining from antihistamines, until and unless prescribed. Antihistamines cause the mucus to get thick and very hard to drain. However, if the sinusitis that you have developed is triggered by your allergies, the physicians might prescribe you an antihistamine, in combination with other medications.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 01/02/2023

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  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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