Are Sinus Infections Contagious? | Prevention And Care

Is a sinus infection contagious? A simple and plain answer to this question is “yes” and “no.”

The infectious status of sinusitis depends on its causes. A few types of this infection may spread from person to person. However, it isn’t a highly infectious disease.

It is worth having a detailed understanding of sinus infections to understand the infectious possibilities of this disease.

Sinus Infection Symptoms 

“Sinusitis, also called rhinosinusitis is swelling of the sinuses that cause symptoms.”

An acute sinus infection is a very irritating health issue. Thankfully, the acute infection does not last for more than a day or two.

Here are the common symptoms of a sinus infection:

  • Headache
  • Pain in the sinus passage
  • Pain between the eyes and sides of the nose
  • Runny or plugged nose
  • Thick, yellow, green, or dark gray nasal discharge
  • Poor sense of smell
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

Most of these common symptoms could be experienced by a patient. It may take up to 7 days for the symptoms to fully subside.

A bacterial sinus infection is acute and lasts longer.

However, patients suffering from chronic conditions might experience recurring attacks of the disease several times a year.

In the case of chronic infection, a few of the symptoms may last for months.

Common Causes of Sinus Infection

Sinus occurs because of an infection in the sinuses.

Usually, mucus or fluid trapped in the sinuses provides a conducive environment for germs’ growth, resulting in infection.

The sinus infection is caused by one of the following:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Nasal tumor
  • Nasal polyps
  • Allergies
  • Deformed or deviated septum

A chronic condition is usually caused by polyps, deviated septum, or allergies.

It may also happen because of dry air, tobacco smoking, or regular breathing of polluted air.

Are Viral Sinus Infections Contagious?

Sinusitis caused by a virus is highly contagious, as contagions can easily transfer from one person to another through air, water, or touch.

Viruses that cause the flu or cold are highly communicable and have the potential to cause a sinus infection.

However, persons with a healthy immune system can resist the potentially harmful microorganism that may cause the flu, a cold, or sinus infections.

A fungus or bacteria very rarely develops a sinus infection. Also, such sinus infections aren’t contagious.

People rarely get sinus because of bacterial or fungal attacks.

Caused by viruses:

Over 90% of incidences of the flu or cold happen because of a viral infection.

Virus-caused sinus infections pass the virus.

Rhinoviruses and influenza viruses A and B are two common germs responsible for flu or sinus.

People suffering from recurring colds and flu are highly susceptible to this disease.

However, spreading the virus to another person doesn’t guarantee that a person will get a sinus infection. The transferred microbe may cause a cold, flu, or sinusitis in another person.

The sinus virus spreads when the infected person coughs or sneezes in others’ presence.

It would be best if you were careful enough to cover your nose and mouth while you cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of viruses in the air. If you do not have a handkerchief or tissues readily available for covering your mouth and nose, it’s recommended that you cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

Make sure not to spill the mucus in common rooms and places you share with others.

The respiratory viruses that cause colds, flu, and sinusitis transmit mostly via hand-to-hand contact.

Avoiding physical contact with others is better if you are suffering from the flu. Try to wash your hands after sneezing or blowing your nose.

Cause by bacteria: 

Sinuses filled with mucus provide an ideal environment for bacteria’s fast growth and multiplication. The sudden growth of bacteria in the sinuses gives rise to an infection that causes a cold, flu, or sinusitis.

Sinus caused by a bacterial sinus infection lasts for several days, and the patient might experience a high fever and headache.

Flu or sinus caused by bacteria can’t spread.

The four main types of bacteria that cause the flu or sinus are:

  • Streptococcus pneumonia
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Moraxella catarrhalis

Sinus caused by bacteria is rare. Bacteria cause less than 2 percent of sinus infections in the world.

How Is Sinusitis Spread?

The sinusitis-causing virus is transferred just like viruses that cause flu or cold.

It spreads by inhaling the microbe. Touching the nose or mouth with hands contaminated with viruses can also cause this upper respiratory infection.

A virus-infected person spreads the virus in the air, openly sneezing or coughing.

Physical contact with the patient or touching objects touched by the patient may also spread the disease.

How long does a sinus infection stay potentially contagious?

The pathogen remains active for several days until it is fully eliminated from the body through medication.

The infection is potentially contagious from a few days before you get it.

Sinus-casing pathogen can spread for a few days; in some cases, you could pass it on for a week or more.

Treatments For Sinus

You can find several treatment solutions for getting rid of it. Some of the popular treatments are:

  • Saline nasal irrigation and saline nasal sprays,
  • Pain relievers,
  • OTC Decongestants,
  • OTC fever reducers,
  • Antihistamines,
  • Balms, essential oils, or natural solutions for loosening the phlegm,
  • Bed rest.

If you have a severe infection, you must seek the help of an ENT specialist for treatment. Commonly used prescription medicines include:

  • Antibiotics (for bacterial infections only),
  • Nasal antihistamine sprays,
  • Nasal corticosteroids and sprays,
  • Surgery,
  • Oral or injected corticosteroids,
  • Immunotherapy.

When to Seek Medical Help

Sinus infection is generally manageable at home with natural remedies or OTC medicines. However, you need to get treated by a doctor if you have severe Sinus with full-blown symptoms.

You need to have a close medical examination if you have the following:

  • Blared or double vision;
  • High fever – above 102 degrees F (38.8 C.);
  • Stiff neck;
  • A severe headache and swollen forehead;
  • Redness around the eyes;
  • Sinus symptoms that last for more than a month.

A chronic sinusitis problem needs to be regularly examined and treated by a doctor.

Prevention of Contagious Sinusitis

The spread of viral infections like colds, flu, and sinusitis can be checked by preventing the transfer of respiratory germs.

Here are a few tips for preventing transferable sinusitis:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with tissue paper or a handkerchief.
  • Wash and disinfect your hands after touching your mouth or nose,
  • When you have an infective viral infection, stay away from public places, offices, or common rooms you share with others,
  • Wear a face mask to prevent the spread of the respiratory pathogen,
  • Take the pneumococcal vaccine or flu shot to avoid bacterial sinusitis or flu,
  • Try not to touch your eyes, mouth, or nose,
  • Stay away from people suffering from the flu or viral sinusitis.

Prevention of Non-Contagious Sinusitis

The number of sinusitis patients is on the rise.

Approximately 29.4 million adults worldwide are expected to suffer from sinusitis.

There are several preventive measures to prevent non-contagious sinusitis and reduce the risk of sinus infections. Here are a few recommendations for staying sinusitis-free:

  • Keep your home and workplace clean, dry, and well-aired;
  • Sinusitis patients should use a nebulizer, metered nasal spray, douche, neti pot, or bulb syringe to keep the nose well moistened.
  • Flush your nasal passages with hypertonic saline to reduce swelling and improve phlegm transport.
  • Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Use a clean humidifier to moisten the air at home.
  • Avoid breathing in secondhand smoke from home kitchens and exhaust emissions from vehicles.
  • Flush your nasal passages to eliminate dust, mucus residues, and pollutants.
  • Drink warm green tea or elderflower tea.
  • If you are prone to nasal allergies, avoid the allergy triggers.
  • Make sure to drink a lot of fluid and use a nasal spray when you suffer from a cold or flu.
  • When your nose is congested with phlegm, blow your nose gently, one nostril at a time.
  • Use decongestants before air travel and swimming or diving in the water.
  • Eat nutritious food that strengthens your immune system and respiratory health.

Sinus Facts

The Final Thought 

Are sinus infections contagious? Yes, but only the sinusitis caused by a virus is contagious, and others are not.

When the sinus-causing contagion is transferred from one person to another, it may not cause sinuses in the second person.

The contagious microbe may only give the other person a common cold or flu if they just got it from the person with sinusitis.

If you have it caused by a virus, then it is necessary to adopt precautionary steps to prevent the spread of the virus to other people.

Avoid being in crowded areas to reduce the number of people exposed to the pathogen.

The majority of these infections are curable with over-the-counter medicines and home remedies. However, chronic issues need prolonged treatment under the guidance of a physician to get rid of the issue. If the disease persists, schedule an appointment to see a doctor.

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