Is A Sinus Infection Contagious
When you have a cold, the flu or COVID, the infectious particles replicate themselves in the nose. These illnesses also tend to cause coughing and sneezing, which project these germs out of your body. For this reason, you can easily spread these bugs to anyone around you.
But the infectious material in a sinus infection is behind the face, not actually in the nose. So while its possible to spread a sinus infection, they dont spread easily without very close contact.
Remedies That Soothe Sinus Infection Symptoms
Self-care is often all you need to recover. If youre wondering how to get rid of a sinus infection on your own, there are some remedies proven to ease those uncomfortable symptoms.
- Saline Nasal Sprays: Done several times a day, saline nasal sprays rinse and moisturize irritated nasal passages.
- Nasal Lavage: With a neti pot or specially designed squeeze bottle, nasal lavage, as well as using a humidifier or steam from a hot shower, will moisten dry sinuses and reduce inflammation, making it easier to breathe.
- Warm Compress: A warm compress on the nose and forehead can ease the pressure a sinus infection builds.
- Hydration and Rest: Proper hydration and adequate rest are key factors in maintaining good health.
- Nasal Corticosteroids: Sometimes a trip to the drugstore is helpful to pick up remedies like nasal corticosteroids, which include fluticasone , budesonide , mometasone , beclomethasone .
- : A decongestant can be prescribed by your doctor or found over-the-counter. Use cautiously, however, as prolonged use of decongestants can make your problem worse, triggering rebound congestion.
- Allergy Treatments: Some sinus infections are caused by seasonal allergies so allergy medications and immunotherapies can help reduce symptoms.
- Pain Relievers: Pain and pressure can be alleviated by over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin.
Types Of Chronic Sinusitis Or Chronic Sinus Infections
While acute sinusitis often involves an infection, chronic sinusitis does not. Sometimes, the long-term illness is caused by an infection that hasnt cleared up properly, but most often the exact cause of chronic sinusitis isnt known.
But clinicians may categorize chronic sinusitis into one of three types depending on the features present.
The most common type of the illness, chronic sinusitis without nasal polyposis, involves swelling and inflammation of the mucous membranes by various non-polyp factors, such as allergies or irritation and infections.
Chronic sinusitis with nasal polyposis, on the other hand, involves nasal polyps that are large enough to clog the sinus. Its not always clear why some people develop these polyps and others dont.
In chronic sinusitis with fungal allergy, people experience a strong allergic reaction to fungi in the air, which causes their mucous membranes to produce a thick, dense mucus.
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How Can I Prevent Sinusitis
Some of the home remedies used to treat sinus infections symptoms may help prevent sinusitis. These include rinsing your nose out with salt water and using medications that your provider might suggest, such as allergy medications or steroid nasal sprays.
You should avoid things you are allergic to, like dust, pollen or smoke, and try to avoid sick people. Wash your hands to reduce your chance of getting a cold or flu.
How Does Food Affect Breath
Basically, all the food eaten begins to be broken down in your mouth. Also, foods are absorbed into your bloodstream and move to the lungs, affecting the air you exhale. If you eat foods with strong odors , brushing and flossing — even mouthwash — merely cover up the odor temporarily. The odor will not go away completely until the foods have passed through your body. Other common foods that can cause bad breath include:
- Orange juice or soda
Likewise, dieters who donât eat often enough can have bad breath. When your body breaks down fat, the process releases chemicals that can give your breath an unpleasant smell.
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Inhale Menthol And Camphor
Another inhaled odor that can help open up sinus passages is menthol, which is an ingredient in popular ointments that are used specifically to treat a stuffy nose. These ointments also contain eucalyptus oil and camphor, which combine with menthol to create a powerful scent that immediately relieves sinus pressure. This ointment can be rubbed on your chest and under your nose to deliver its soothing benefits. Unlike eucalyptus oil, this ointment should not be placed in the mouth.
Complications Of Sinus Infection
Sinus inflammation can spread to the bones and soft tissues of the face and eyes. This can cause:
- Cellulitis of the face or around the eyes
- Abscesses of the eyes
Left intreated, sinus infections can also lead to serious intracranial complications, including blood clots within the cavernous sinus, pus between the skulls and dura mater , and meningitis.
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Ways To Recognize Serious Signs Of Sinus Infections
The length of the infection is an important determinant of the seriousness of the infection.
I usually consider most infections less than 3 weeks to be viral or inflammation related to congestion. At this point, the best treatment is usually medications that decrease the congestion and inflammation. This in turn will alleviate the symptoms and ultimately cure the illness.
When the illness continues beyond 3 weeks, bacterial infection can begin to develop. Though antibiotics can be considered at this point, other treatments may still be the best answer if they have not yet been given a try.
#2: Mucous Color
I will dispel a myth right here and now. Yellowish/greenish mucous does not necessarily mean the infection is bacterial.
Viruses can cause the same color mucous. The reason for the mucous is generally not the actual bacteria or virus, but the bodys immune response to the intruder.
So dont worry just because you see a colored mucous when you blow your nose. This will also improve as the infection abates.
#3: Sinus Pain
Sinus pain can occur anytime throughout a sinus infection. This is normal and means there is inflammation in the sinuses, as we discussed previously.
However, severe pain, redness over the skin, hardened skin over the sinuses, or even a severe headache are not generally normal and can indicate a bacterial infection.
A fever can be caused by both viruses and bacteria. So how do you differentiate between the two?
What Causes A Sinus Infection
Before you can begin finding relief from the symptoms of a sinus infection, its important to understand whats causing it.
One of the most common causes of sinusitis is a virtual infection, such as the common cold or influenza. As a result, most people have experienced at least a mild sinus infection at some point.
Its not common for a viral infection to develop into a secondary bacterial infection but it does happen occasionally. And, in some cases, fungal infections may be the source of the sinusitis symptoms.
People who suffer from allergies , nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or dental infections are also more likely to experience a sinus infection. In many cases, these sufferers will develop chronic sinusitis, requiring treatment management strategies.
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But Sometimes Antibiotics For Sinus Infections Are Needed
So how does one judge when it is appropriate to prescribe antibiotics for a sinus infection? There are several sets of official guidelines, which are all similar. When a patient has thick, colorful nasal discharge and/or facial pressure or pain for at least 10 days, they meet criteria for antibiotic treatment. If a patient has had those symptoms, but the symptoms seemed to start improving and then got worse again, then even if its been less than 10 days, they meet criteria for antibiotic treatment.
The authors, however, also suggest that doctors discuss watchful waiting with patients and explain that most sinus infections clear up on their own in one to two weeks, and its a safe option to hold off on antibiotics. The symptoms can then be treated with a cocktail of over-the-counter medications and supportive care, like nasal saline irrigation, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, and pain medications.
Of course, many patients expect and demand antibiotics for sinus infections, and even those who are open to watchful waiting may hear about the rare but possible complications of things like, oh, brain abscess, and opt to treat.
In the case of my patient above, she met criteria for treatment. She weighed the watchful waiting option against the potential risks of antibiotics for her sinus infection, and chose the prescription. I can tell you from very close follow-up that she improved quickly, though in truth, we will never really know if she would have gotten better anyway.
What Are The Sinuses How Many Do We Have
A sinus is a hollow, air-filled cavity. For the purposes of this article, a sinus will refer to those hollow cavities that are in the skull and connected to the nasal airway by a narrow hole in the bone . Normally all sinuses are open to the nasal airway through an ostium. Humans have four pair of these cavities each referred to as the:
The four pairs of sinuses are often described as a unit and termed the “paranasal sinuses.” The cells of the inner lining of each sinus are mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells, and some cells that are part of the immune system .
Functions of the sinuses include humidifying and warming inspired air, insulation of surrounding structures , increasing voice resonance, and as buffers against facial trauma. The sinuses decrease the weight of the skull. If the inflammation hinders the clearance of mucous or blocks the natural ostium, the inflammation may progress into a bacterial infection.
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What Happens If You Let A Sinus Infection Go Untreated
A sinus infection that is left untreated can not only make life miserable it may develop into chronic sinusitis. If an infection isnt cared for properly, it could also result in some potentially serious complications. These types of issues are rare but they can occur:
If left untreated, sinus infections could potentially spread to the eyes, causing redness, irritation, and/or swelling. In severe cases, sufferers may experience reduced, blurry, or a complete loss of vision.
- Severe sinusitis may need to be treated with antibiotics administered through an IV.
- A CT scan may be required to determine the seriousness of the infection.
- In very rare cases, brain abscesses or meningitis may result from a severe and untreated sinus infection.
What Are Complications Of Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
While serious complications do not occur frequently, it is possible for a sinus infection to cause a direct extension of infection into the brain through a sinus wall, creating a life-threatening emergency .
In addition, other adjacent structures can become infected and develop problems, such as osteomyelitis of bones in the skull and infection around the eye . Rarely, these infections may cause death. The most susceptible individuals to complications are patients with suppressed immune systems, diabetes, and relatively rarely from multiple trauma injuries that may occur in natural disasters.
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Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
- facial pain
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
How Can I Permanently Cure Sinusitis
Permanent cures for chronic sinusitis and sinus headaches are sometimes possible, but it can depend on the reasons why you are affected.Treatment Options for Sinusitis Painkillers. Antibiotics for bacterial infections. Mediation to reduce the inflammation. Using a humidifier or nasal spray. Drinking plenty of fluids.
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Will A Sinus Infection Go Away On Its Own
Often, a sinus infection will peter out after about 10 days. Home remedies can be enough to get you over the hump. However, some cases are more serious, lasting 12 weeks or more. A chronic sinus infection could mean there is an underlying bacterial infection that needs professional medical attention. Some infections will be accompanied by a fever. A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or greater and is the bodys way of fighting off infection. Fevers above 102 degrees warrant a call to your doctor or a visit to a walk-in urgent care.
What Are The Six Types Of Sinusitis And Sinus Infections
Sinusitis may be classified in several ways, based on its duration and the type of inflammation . The term rhinosinusitis is used to imply that both the nose and sinuses are involved and is becoming the preferred term over sinusitis.
- Acute sinus infection usually lasts less than 3-5 days.
- Subacute sinus infection lasts one to three months.
- Chronic sinus infection is greater than three months. Chronic sinusitis may be further sub-classified into chronic sinusitis with or without nasal polyps, or allergic fungal sinusitis.
- Recurrent sinusitis has several sinusitis attacks every year.
There is no medical consensus on the above time periods.
- Infected sinusitis usually is caused by an uncomplicated virus infection. Less frequently, bacterial growth causes sinus infection and fungal sinus infection is very infrequent. Subacute and chronic forms of a sinus infection usually are the result of incomplete treatment of an acute sinus infection.
- Noninfectious sinusitis is caused by irritants and allergic conditions and follows the same general timeline for acute, subacute, and chronic as infectious sinusitis.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
- a cold that lasts for more than 710 days without improvement
- a cold that seems to be getting worse after 7 days of symptoms
- symptoms of allergies that don’t clear with the usual allergy medicine
Also call if your child shows any other signs of worsening sinusitis, such as:
- pain or pressure in the cheeks or around the eyes
- swelling around the eye
About Author: David Pruitt
David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelors of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014. An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.
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When Should I Go See The Doctor About A Sinus Infection
It is pretty easy to care for most sinus conditions on your own. However, if you continue to have symptoms that concern you or if your infections continue to happen, your primary care doctor might suggest you see a specialist. This could also happen if your CT scan shows something that does not look right.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sinusitis, or swelling of the tissues of the sinus cavities, is a common condition with many causes, including viruses and bacteria, nasal polyps or allergies. Signs and symptoms may including facial pressure, fever and tiredness. You can treat symptoms at home by resting, taking over-the-counter products and increasing your fluid intake. Make sure you contact your healthcare provider if symptoms do not improve, if sinusitis happens often or if you have any symptom that worries you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2020.
Should I Go To Work With Sinus Infection
Sinus infections can be viral or bacterial. Either way, its best to stay home, Wigmore says. Viral sinus infections are often contagious. If you have had symptoms longer than one week, or if you have severe facial pain, teeth/jaw pain, or fever, you may have a bacterial infection and should consult your doctor.
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Warning Signs Of A Dangerous Sinus Infection
Sinus infection or sinusitis is common. Many times it is mild and rarely causes complications. Even sometimes it will get better in time with nothing more than enough rest and fluid. However if its complications have occurred, some could be dangerous or even life-threatening. Thats why its also important to understand the warning signs and when to seek immediate medical help!
Your Sinusitis Wont Go Away Heres What You Need To Know
Sinusitis also known as a sinus infection is, for the most part, a bacterial infection caused by inflammation of the sinuses. Chronic and recurring long-lasting sinusitis can render you incapacitated and quickly eat up your sick days.
But when your sinusitis wont go away, what options do you have? This guide walks you through how to identify a sinus infection, what happens if you ignore it, how to treat your chronic sinusitis, and more.
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