Sinus infections (sinusitis), has a wide variety of symptoms that are somewhat similar to the common cold. These symptoms make people wonder that Is a Sinus Infection Contagious? Though, the contagiousness depends on the cause of it. For this we need to look deep into sinus infection and know the difference.
Sinuses are hollow space behind the nose, cheek bones and forehead; it is usually filled with air and a thin lining of mucus. When the tissues around this area get infected by bacteria, fungi or a virus, sinus infection takes place. Sinus infection can also occur by allergies, the blockage of nasal passage or deformity resulting in swelling and inflammation.
Is a Sinus Infection Contagious?
Sinus infection can happen due to several reasons and some of them are contagious. Usually sinus infections are caused by viruses like rhinovirus and influenza. These infections can result in colds, flu, and upper respiratory infections. The person with sinus infection can most possibly spread the virus, but that doesn’t mean that other person will get sinus infection.
Usually viruses spread through the air when someone coughs, sneeze or blows up his nose. When you breathe in this air, or come into contact with the person affected by this virus you can catch common cold or flu. A common cold or flu can potentially turn into sinus infection, depending on the environment, personal health, and various other factors.
Sinus infection can be of several types and categorized by duration. This may include the following;
- Acute – that can last about 4 weeks or less
- Sub-acute – that can last about 4-12 weeks
- Chronic – that can last longer than 12 weeks
- Recurrent – that can happen several times in a year
Sinus infection that is caused by the deformity, blockage of nasal passage or allergies is not contagious.
Sinus Infection Symptoms:
Sinus infection has almost the same symptoms as the common cold. For which people easily mistake it for common cold. Following are the most common symptoms that resemble common cold or flu.
- Bad breath
- Nasal discharge
- Congestion of the nose
- Headaches ( frontal)
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Pain in the teeth
- Pain in ears
Following are some additional symptoms of sinus infection that are caused by the bacteria
- Thick green nasal discharge
- Facial pain
Treatment of Sinus Infection:
Primarily the treatment of sinus infection focuses on relief from symptoms. But some symptoms are bothersome, and there are different ways to treat them. Following are the ways of treating these bothersome symptoms;
In bacterial sinusitis, usually the doctor will prescribe antibiotic course to kill the bacteria. This antibiotic course can be taken from 3 to 28 days, depending on severity of infection and type of antibiotic. Sinus infection are deep-rooted therefore longer treatment are prescribed to people with severe infection for longer lasting.
Nasal Decongestant Sprays:
Nasal decongestant spray can give relief after the use for 3 to 4 days. It helps reduce the swelling of nasal passage, facilitate nasal discharge from the sinuses. It should be used as per prescription.
Antihistamines helps treat sinus infections caused by allergic reactions, it can stops inflammation and fight the symptoms of allergies that can cause swelling of nasal and sinus passage. This is also to be used as per prescription.
Topical Nasal Corticosteroids:
Topical nasal corticosteroid sprays stops and reverses the inflammation and swelling in nasal and sinus passages. These sprays also shrink and prevent the comeback of nasal polyps. It can be used for longer time period.
Nasal irrigation can help to flush out mucus and irritants from the nasal passages.
The last resort for sinus infection is surgery, when the medication therapies fail to provide relieve. Anatomical defects are mostly the common reason behind the surgery. A surgery is usually carried out by otolaryngologist to fix the bone that separates nasal passage, removal of nasal polyps and to open closed passages. Patients are given local or general anesthesia during the surgery, and are often discharged the same day of surgery.
Usually people try to self-treat themselves at home, for this they use over-the-counter medications. These medications provide them relief from sinus infection symptoms. Following are the most common over-the-counter treatments;
- Cold medications – medicines that treat common cold can also give relief to symptoms like, cough, pain, and congestion
- Decongestants – it reduces the mucus produced
- Acetaminophen – it reduces facial pain and tenderness
Sinusitis Home Remedies:
Antibiotics have its own side effects and continuous use can create the problem of antibiotic resistance. These home remedies can help in giving some relief from sinus infection symptoms.
- Taking steam or using humidifier to clear nasal passage.
- Drinking water – to flush out virus from our body.
- Broth with chicken & vegetables – soothes the nasal cavities and respiratory system.
- Horseradish – to clear nasal passages
- Ginger – ginger tea help in recovery
- Garlic – natural antibiotic can help treat sinus infection
- Vitamin C rich foods – help boost immune system and recover from sinusitis.
- Oil of Oregano – anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help clear nasal passage.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract – used in nasal sprays because of its anti-viral properties.
- Echinacea – helps you system fight from bacteria and viruses.
- Essential Oils – using eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil to clear sinuses.
When to Consult a Doctor:
If your sinus infection symptoms are getting worse and there is no improvement after a week or two should seek medical attention. The doctor will do a complete assessment of sinus infection symptoms and take proper history from the patient.
Then the doctor will prescribe the required medication according to the nature of your sinus infection. If the doctor suspects it’s a bacterial sinus infection, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotics course. If the sinus infection is caused by an allergic reaction, viruses or deformity in nasal passage, the doctor may prescribe the set procedure.