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Sinus Infections - Is a Sinus Infection Contagious?

Sinus Infections

Do you have sinus infections? Are they contagious? If you’re not sure, this article will help you determine whether or not your sinus infection is contagious, and give you tips on how to avoid spreading the infection to others around you.

Sinus Infection

What is a Sinus Infection?

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. It is usually caused by the buildup of mucus and other fluids from the nasal passages, which blocks airways leading to the lungs. These mucous and fluids are then highly vulnerable to bacteria or viruses, which can cause inflammation and increase discomfort.

Mucous membranes line most of your body’s cavities, organs, and passageways. Mucous contains fluid from glands in your nose that moistens the air that passes through it when you breathe in through your nose. The mucus also traps particles in its sticky layers for removal as you breathe out through your mouth or your nose if a particle is too large to be removed by swallowing. When trapped particles lead to an infection it is called sinusitis.

There are many symptoms of sinus infection such as:

  • Fever.
  • Sore throat.
  • Facial pain or pressure.
  • Headache.
  • Postnasal drip (coughing up thick mucus). 
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose. 
There is no conclusive evidence that a sinus infection is contagious. But because the bacteria will grow where there is moisture and warmth it's important to keep your hands clean and dry during cold weather months when infections like colds tend to spread more easily.

Mucous membrane tissue secretes antibodies into its surrounding environment which destroy foreign organisms such as viruses or bacteria before they can infect cells. The immune system fights off these invaders with white blood cells before they have time to grow inside the body's cells and reproduce enough copies of themselves to make their host ill.

What Causes Sinus Infections?

A sinus infection is an inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nasal cavities. The most common causes are bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza. Common symptoms of a sinus infection include a runny nose, thick yellow or green mucus (possibly containing pus), congestion, headaches, facial pain, loss of smell, and difficulty sleeping due to noise sensitivity. Individuals with recurrent sinus infections may have allergies or asthma.

Other potential causes include viral upper respiratory infections such as influenza, poor air quality, and allergens (e.g., pets). The risk factors for developing recurrent sinusitis are gender (females have more frequent infections than males), smoking cigarettes, and being allergic to animal dander or other allergens.

How Do Sinus Infections Spread?

During your time with a sinus infection, you may be tempted to share your germs with others. You might feel pressure to go to work or socialize with others. And it's natural for us humans to want company and comfort when we're sick. But before you go about your day-to-day life, you should know the facts about sinus infections and their contagiousness.

Most people that are infected will simply become carriers of the disease, meaning they will have nasal discharge but won't feel any symptoms themselves. Their throat might be slightly sore from post nasal drip but otherwise, they'll feel normal.

They can spread the bacteria by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. They can also pass it on through droplets in sneezes or coughs. The good news is that because most carriers don't experience symptoms themselves, they can't transmit them either.

Can You Catch A Sinus Infection From Someone Else?

The symptoms of sinus infections are very similar to those of the common cold, but sinus infections are caused by bacterial or viral infections while colds are usually caused by viruses. The first sign that you may have a sinus infection is nasal congestion and it may take up to ten days for you to realize that you're sick with an infection and not allergies.

If the person that you share your house with has been sick recently, then they may have spread their virus or bacteria to you which could be causing your symptoms. Viruses, bacteria, and allergies all cause inflammation in the lining of your nose which leads to swelling, pain, pressure in the face/jaw/neck, and stuffy nose/runny nose. Chronic sinusitis (sinus infections) can last from 10-14 days. Chronic sinusitis can also lead to other complications such as chronic cough, hearing loss, tooth decay, and bad breath. 

A lot of people do not know whether or not they have chronic sinusitis because there are no visible signs until a problem arises like chronic runny nose/coughing episodes at night. It can also lead to frequent sore throats if it's infected with bacteria instead of just being due to allergies or asthma. You should see your doctor if you've had problems like this for more than three months or if your symptoms worsen significantly after starting treatment from your doctor's office.

Can I Get a Sinus Infection From Something Else, Like the Cold Weather?

Many factors may contribute to getting a sinus infection, such as smoking or lack of sleep. Although it can be difficult to know for sure what causes them, it's usually thought that they occur when bacteria grows in the nasal passages and that they are usually associated with an allergy or an upper respiratory tract infection.

A sinus infection is contagious if one person has an infection that is passed on to someone else either through contact with the other person's saliva and mucus or by exposure to droplets from the infected person's coughs and sneezes. While you should generally try to avoid getting close contact with those who have had recent sinuses-related symptoms, you can't catch sinusitis this way in general.

Are There Natural Ways to Cure a Sinus Infection Fast?

A common cold or sinus infection is usually caused by the rhinovirus. Sinuses are important for controlling the temperature and moisture of your air intake, so if you suffer from an overproduction of mucous because of this illness, you will find yourself inhaling cool, damp air. Congestion and difficulty breathing can result from this. Luckily, there are some great ways to relieve sinus pressure in just minutes at home.

Check out these natural remedies for sinus infections:

- Nasal irrigation with saline water helps flush out debris and irritants from congested nasal passages, as well as increases airflow through the nose while soothing mucous membranes. Try adding salt to warm water and following the instructions below:

  • Fill the container 
  • Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of table salt 
  • Stir until dissolved 
  • Lean forward and tilt your head down so that you're looking up into the container 
  • Slowly pour the solution into one nostril (ensure the mouth is closed) and let it drain out the other nostril.
  • Repeat on the other side. 
  • Repeat this three times in each nostril. 
  • Repeat three times daily, but don't use more than four cups of fluid per day
  • For children under 5 years old, use only a quarter cup at a time and do not repeat more than twice daily. 
  • Blow your nose after each rinse session to remove any leftover saline water and continue to breathe through your nose during the process.
- Hot liquids such as tea with honey or lemon help thin mucous. Drink at least 8 ounces of hot tea every morning and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. 

- Drink fresh fruit juices like pineapple juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, etc., instead of sweetened beverages such as sodas and sports drinks.

- Drink lots of fluids especially hot liquids before bedtime to clear nasal passages overnight.

If a sore throat accompanies your symptoms, try gargling with salt water which can help soothe the throat. If swallowing becomes difficult or painful, seek medical attention immediately since it may be related to acute epiglottitis which requires emergency treatment.


If home remedies don't help, your doctor may recommend other treatments, including:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Nasal corticosteroids and sprays.
  • Nasal antihistamine sprays
  • Oral or injected corticosteroids
  • Sinus surgery.
  • Immunotherapy
Antibiotics work only for sinus infections caused by bacteria. 

How Do I Know If My Child Has a Sinus Infection or Flu?

A common question parents might ask is: Is sinus infection contagious? The short answer is yes because a virus or bacteria is the cause of your child's symptoms. However, in general, you cannot catch it from an infected person (such as an acquaintance at work).

To figure out if your child has a sinus infection or flu it is important to understand the differences between these two illnesses. Flu symptoms include a fever and body aches but will also have respiratory symptoms like runny nose and sore throat. A sinus infection can show up without any other additional symptoms; however, if the victim does have other symptoms they may include high fever and bad congestion.

You should be aware that some children are at higher risk for developing a sinus infection including those with allergies, eczema, asthma, head injuries, chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis, and more. If you think your child has developed this type of illness consult with their doctor to determine the next steps. They can prescribe medications and recommend preventative measures. 

To treat a sinus infection your physician may prescribe antibiotics and recommend fluids and rest to help clear the mucus to reduce pain. It is important to stay hydrated during recovery by drinking plenty of fluids such as water, sports drinks, broth-based soups, or even just fruit juice. In addition, try to stay away from salty foods which can make mucus worse, or congestive medicines which can dry out nasal passages too much making it difficult for breathing. To soothe nasal passages it might be helpful to use a saline nasal spray (included on most allergy medication) one-to-two times per day when not congested.

What Are The Warning Signs of a Serious Sinus Infection in Children?

Many people only experience mild symptoms that last for a few days and need little treatment, but there are cases where the infection spreads to other parts of the body. A sinus infection in children can be serious when it causes pain or swelling over the ear. It may also cause trouble hearing or swallowing; fever and bad breath.

Other signs that your child is seriously ill with an infected sinus are decreased alertness, confusion, severe pain, stiffness in neck muscles, seizures (especially when they are feverish), and vomiting.

If your child has any of these symptoms it is best to call your pediatrician right away. You can also take them to the emergency room if you feel they are life-threatening or getting worse. If you think your child's sinus infection may be spreading outside of their nose, mouth, or throat then consult a doctor as soon as possible.

When should you see a doctor?

Sinus infections are usually easy to spot, and many telltale signs indicate whether or not you have one. Sometimes, sinus pain is accompanied by a fever. Often, it also causes nasal congestion as well as drainage. Postnasal drip can also cause cough, sore throat, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

Other symptoms of sinusitis include tooth pain and headaches near the eye socket. In some cases, people with severe or chronic sinusitis will experience loss of appetite and weight loss. 

The good news is that most of these symptoms are temporary, so you don't need to panic if you feel them in just one day. You should still see your doctor if the discomfort lasts for more than two weeks because this could be a sign of something more serious. 

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