Is Sinusitis Contagious?
Can a sinus infection be contagious?
People often wonder if sinus infections are contagious? The short answer is: No. Sinus infections are typically a result (or in other words, "a symptom") of either a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection and, by themselves, cannot spread from person to person.[*]
However, because "sinusitis" — as doctors like to call it — often stems from a contagious viral infection, such as the common cold or influenza, it's important to understand that the root of the illness could likely be contagious.[*][*] Therefore, it's important to practice good hygiene and prevent transmission as much as possible.[*]
Additionally, sinusitis is commonly accompanied by several other shared symptoms stemming from the main viral infection, including post nasal drip, sinus pain, and congestion, which helps contribute to the belief that sinusitis is the root condition and that it is spreadable.[*]
What Is A Sinus Infection?
The term sinus infection (or sinusitis) typically refers to the swelling or inflammation of the sinus lining.
- Acute sinusitis is commonly brought on by a viral infection (a cold or flu) or sometimes an allergic reaction (seasonal allergies).
- Subacute sinus infections can develop with the introduction of a bacterial infection (i.e. Streptococcus pneumonia - “strep throat”).
Sinus infection sufferers tend to experience common symptoms, including nasal congestion, sinus pain, nasal discharge, post nasal drip, and sinus headaches.[*][*]
How Do You Treat A Sinus Infection?
Treatment for a sinus infection may include the following:
Nasal washing or irrigation with saline — a natural and nasal safe decongestant.
Using common over-the-counter nasal safe medications can also be effective in treating acute sinusitis.[*]
Using medications prescribed by a healthcare professional, including a corticosteroid, antibiotic, or antifungal medicine. The medications are most effective when delivered intranasally (in the nose).
Using compounding pharmacies to combine a sinus medication specifically for your needs, incorporating soothing ingredients to eliminate dry nose.
Regardless of your treatment choice, delivery to the location of the irritation or infection matters. Be sure to consult your physician to discuss intranasal delivery options.
What Causes A Sinus Infection?
In some cases, sinus infections are the result of airborne bacteria, fungi, and allergens.[*]
- For example, allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS) occurs when fungal debris becomes lodged within the nasal cavity and develops into an infection. This type of infection is not considered contagious because of its source.[*][*]
- Common airborne allergens, such as pollen, dander, dust mites and mold, can also be the source of a sinus infection. As these irritants create swelling and inflammation, they create a perfect spot for an infection to develop and grow.
However, the sources of these types of sinus infections are non-contagious.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection?
Sinus infections are typically diagnosed as either acute or chronic depending on their frequency and duration. Here is a list of symptoms commonly associated with both conditions:
Common symptoms of an acute sinus infection include:
difficulty breathing through your nose
post-nasal drip (mucus running down your throat)
Chronic sinusitis symptoms may also include:
discolored discharge from your nose
swelling and tenderness around your eyes
- sore throat
Who Is At Risk For Getting A Sinus Infection?
Those with underlying medical conditions may be at greater risk of developing a sinus infection.
Sinus infections are fairly common, affecting more than 30 million Americans each year. However, people with certain underlying medical conditions may experience more frequent and severe cases of sinusitis and chronic sinusitis.[*]
- Sinus infections can occur as a result of viral infections, such as the cold or flu. Therefore, people with weakened or compromised immune systems may be at a greater risk for developing acute sinusitis. [*]
- Sinus infections commonly arise due to complications with seasonal allergies, asthma, or other physical issues that can cause blockages in the nose or sinuses. People with these conditions are more likely to develop chronic sinusitis.