The quick answer to this question is no. Is a sinus infection contagious? Definitely not. The cold that precedes a typical infection is actually what’s contagious. To stop the spread of the cold virus, you should cover your nose when sneezing, avoid touching shared items while sick, and always wash your hands.
Of course, it pays to know the signs and symptom of a sinus infection. This way, the question is not whether sinusitis is contagious. The better question to ask is if you are suffering from it.
Signs of a Sinus Infection The inflammation of nasal passages that are signs of a sinus infection can also result in headaches, and other facial aches. With cold usually preceding sinus inflammation, infection may also come with fever, sore throat and cough. The nasal passages may also be congested with mucus.
Types of Sinus Infection
Before you ask if sinusitis is contagious, determine what type of sinus infection you have. This will help you in a more important aspect: getting medication.
The two types of sinus infection are acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis usually lasts no longer than two months, and does not recur more than three times a year. This is also easier treated with common sinus infection drugs.
Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, lasts longer than two months and recur at least five times in a year. Symptoms are also more severely felt.
Causes of Sinus Infections
When you know the causes of sinus infections, you will stop asking if it’s contagious. The main should be is how to address it.
Even though sinus infection usually begins with viral infection, sinusitis itself does not spread. What can spread is the viral infection that caused it.
In a sinus infection, a part of the respiratory tract becomes irritated by viral infection or allergens and pollutants. If viral infection is present, then the cells of the sinus lining is damaged, causing inflammation. The inflammation obstructs the removal of bacteria, which then weakens the sinus lining further. Being exposed to allergens may cause the same effects.
For acute sinus infections, the main bacteria to blame are streptococcus pneumoniae, moraxella catarrhalis, and haemophilus influenzae. It’s almost the same for chronic sinus infections. Just add staphylococcus aureus to the list. Sometimes too, sinus infections may be caused by fungi. This is usually in the case of people with immune system diseases.
Here is a thorough list of symptoms to watch out for when you have acute or chronic sinus infection. This list can remove doubts on questions on whether the sickness is contagious.
Acute Sinus Infection
In acute sinus infection, the symptoms vary according to the location of the sinusitis.
Sinusitis that originates behind the eyes is called an ethmoid sinusitis. Symptoms here include blocked nasal passages with mucus discharge, headache in the temple, fever, pain when coughing and postnasal drip.
Maxillary sinusitis is sinus infection behind the cheek bones. Pain is generally felt all over the face – around the eyes, cheekbones and upper teeth. Both sides of the face are painful and swollen, and this becomes more painful when the head is upright. You may experience fever and postnasal drip.
In frontal sinusitis, the infection is directly behind the forehead, which can cause severe headaches. This is usually accompanied by fever and postnasal drip.
Lastly, in sphenoid sinusitis, the infection is behind the eye. This causes deep headache that affects the forehead, the area behind the eyes, and the top of the head. Visual impairment can happen. You may also experience postnasal drip and fever.
Chronic Sinus Infection
In chronic sinus infections, the base symptoms are the same but with additional afflictions.
In ethmoid sinusitis, the pain is more intense when wearing glasses or during mornings. The patient can also suffer from chronic bad breath and sore throat.
For maxillary sinusitis, there may be additional pain in the teeth area, and nights are marked with intense coughing.
For frontal sinusitis, the headache, sinus area trauma and postnasal drip are worse. It is the same for those suffering from sphenoid sinusitis.
Seeking Medical Help
When you seek medical help, it is not about the question “is a sinus infection contagious?” It is about you taking control of a regular source of pain and discomfort. Besides, constant nasal discharges, fever and bad breath can cause some isolation. It is better to address the situation as soon as possible.
Symptoms, such as fever, should be medicated using symptom-targeted medication; such as ibuprofen to lessen swelling, headaches and fevers. If you are experiencing facial pain, accompanied by headaches, then you should see a doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics.
How is Sinus Infection Diagnosed
When you’ve gone beyond the “is a sinus infection contagious?” question, you are likely to get to asking how a sinus infection is diagnosed. Sometimes, it is easy to mistake the symptoms of sinus infection with symptoms of influenza or the common cold.
The doctor actually starts with your medical history. These findings here are compared against findings from physical examination.
Sometimes, diagnosis may require CT scans, and ultrasound tests. This is usually done when chronic sinus infection is suspected. CT scans are used to check the air fluid levels, total blockage and sinus lining thickening in the sinuses.
Ultrasound tests are less expensive than CT scans. It is reliable when checking on similar signs of sinusitis although not as widely accepted as CT scans.
An alternative to these two is to just head to an ENT physician. A physician can use a sino-nasal endoscope to examine the nasal passages. There may be some discomfort with this fiberoptic tube that’s inserted through the nose. However, it is enough to check whether the sinuses are draining correctly.
Another option for the ENT specialist is to take a sample of the infected sinus drain and do tests. These tests are a bit more invasive though since the doctor needs to insert a needle into the sinus’ skin. Anesthesia may be necessary in some cases. Samples here can be diagnosed within two days.