Why Do Sinus Infections Occur
Your sinuses are hollow chambers inside your cheeks, forehead and between the eyes. The lining of these passages can swell, causing a buildup of mucus.
Many develop a sinus infection after catching a cold, known as the rhinovirus. A runny nose and congestion, common cold symptoms, can cause inflammation and prevent the sinuses from draining properly.
If you are experiencing a viral sinus infection, you cant spread the infection to others, but you can pass along the virus. Someone who catches the virus from you is then at a higher risk of also developing a sinus infection. You may be contagious for up to two weeks.
Sinus infections can also be caused by bacteria. When mucus pools, it becomes an ideal spot for bacteria to grow.
Allergies, nasal polyps and anything that causes a structural blockage of the sinus cavity can cause an infection, as the narrowed pathway makes it harder for mucus to adequately drain. None of these causes are contagious.
Incubation Period And Symptoms Of Pneumonia
The incubation period is the time from when you pick up the pneumonia virus to when you actively display symptoms. Many variables affect this, including the type of pneumonia, your general health, and your age. You may assume that you have a cold or the flu when symptoms begin because they are quite similar. However, they last longer and become more severe with time instead of less.
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Pneumonia can be diagnosed by a doctor listening to a patientâs lungs. Certain sounds heard through a stethoscope may indicate infection. In addition, a chest x-ray can help identify which part of a patientâs lung is infected. An x-ray also can show abnormal fluid collections which also can help diagnose pneumonia. The patient may also have blood drawn. Laboratory tests can show that the immune system is working properly to fight off infection.
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What Is A Sinus Infection Sinus Infection Symptoms & Treatment
There are many different symptoms of sinus infections. Here are some signs you may have a sinus infection:
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. Sinus infections can be dangerous if left untreated, and they can also lead to other health problems.
To treat your sinus infection an urgent care physician may prescribe you antibiotics to get rid of the infection. For milder infections, doctors will sometimes recommend over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen and nasal decongestants. These are available without a prescription at most pharmacies.
What Causes Sinus Infections
The most common cause of sinusitis are viral respiratory infections that lead to swelling and irritation of the sinuses, the most frequent being the common cold.
Other ways to contract a sinus infection include:
- Nasal polyps, or small growths in the lining of the nose, that may be asymptomatic but block the normal sinus pathways
- Any structural change to the nasal cavity, such as a deviated septum or history of sinus or nose surgery
- Hay fever causing swelling to the noses lining, usually during common allergy seasons
While sinus infections are common and most adults will experience one over their lifetimes, there are outside influences that can lead to more frequent cases of sinusitis.
Risk factors for an increased chance of a sinus infection include:
- A lasting cold
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- A broken nose or other structural problems within the sinuses
- A weak immune system, or starting the cycle of a new drug that weakens the immune system
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When Are You No Longer Contagious
Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections. These medications specifically target bacterial functions and can either kill bacteria or prevent them from thriving.
Youre typically considered no longer contagious after youve been on a regimen of antibiotics for a period of time, which depends on your type of infection.
For example, youre no longer contagious with strep throat after youve been on antibiotics for 24 hours and no longer have a fever.
Additionally, youre no longer contagious with whooping cough after five full days on antibiotics. People with chlamydia should abstain from sexual activity until theyve completed seven days of antibiotic treatment.
Its very important to speak with your doctor about your infection and how long you should expect to be contagious. Knowing this information can help prevent you from infecting others while you recover.
Bacterial infections can be acquired in several different ways, depending on the type of infection. Lets explore some examples of how some bacterial illnesses are spread.
What Can You Do To Ease Sinus Infection Symptoms
Sinus infections can make you feel really miserable. In addition to feeling like your head is trapped in a vice, you could develop a fever, sore throat and even tooth pain. Thankfully, there are several things you can do at home to ease symptoms.
- Quiet pain Take an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for discomfort and pain.
- Try a nasal spray Use an over-the-counter nasal spray such as fluticasone to reduce swelling and open nasal and sinus passages.
- Opt for an oral med Take guaifenesin to help thin and drain mucus.
- Get some rest Make sure youre getting enough sleep and take it easy during the day.
- Hydrate Drink at least 64 oz. of water and/or other clear non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic liquids throughout the day.
- Grab a warm compress Ease pain and swelling by laying a warm washcloth over your sinuses.
- Rinse your nasal passages Use a neti pot to flush your sinuses with a saline solution.
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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.
Most Sinus Infections Dont Require Antibiotics
Ah, . The New England Journal of Medicine published a clinical practice review of acute sinus infections in adults, that is, sinus infections of up to four weeks. The need for an updated review was likely spurred by the disconcerting fact that while the vast majority of acute sinus infections will improve or even clear on their own without antibiotics within one to two weeks, most end up being treated with antibiotics.
It is this discrepancy that has clinical researchers and public health folks jumping up and down in alarm, because more unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics mean more side effects and higher bacterial resistance rates. But on the other hand, while 85% of sinus infections improve or clear on their own, theres the 15% that do not. Potential complications are rare, but serious, and include brain infections, even abscesses.
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Antibiotics Are Not A Cure
Antibiotics should only be used for specific bacterial infections. Taking antibiotics only when appropriate can help fight antimicrobial resistance. Antibiotics DO NOT work against viruses and cannot be used to treat infections like influenza or COVID-19.
You should also be sure to always take your full course of antibiotics. Don’t save them in case you get sick laterantibiotics you take for one infection may not work on another. You should also never share your antibiotics with anyone else or use antibiotics that were not prescribed to you.
How Long Does A Sinus Infection Last Without Antibiotics
If you have a bacterial sinus infection, you can take antibiotics to speed up your healing time. However, you cannot take antibiotics to improve viral sinusitis because antimicrobial medications do not kill viruses.
If your immune system is healthy and you choose not to take antibiotics for bacterial sinusitis, you can still fight off the infection. Most people find their symptoms improve significantly within about two to three weeks.
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What Is The Likelihood Of Getting Others Sick
Duration of symptoms can help determine the cause of infection and whether or not it is contagious. A sinus infection caused by a viral infection lasts about seven to 10 days, meaning youll be contagious with the virus for up to two weeks.
If your symptoms last more than 10 days, or if they subside after a week then return again a few days later, you likely have a bacterial sinus infection that cannot be spread. However, bacterial sinus infections are rare accounting for only about two percent of all sinus infections.
For more information about sinus infections or to schedule an appointment with an ENT physician, today.
The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
People often assume that its possible to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial sinus infection based on the type of symptoms they experience. Unfortunately, thats not the case. Usually, the symptoms of a sinus infection are the same or very similar whether its caused by bacteria or a virus.
Common symptoms of either a viral or bacterial sinus infection include green or yellow mucous/discharge, bad breath, headache, and fever.
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When Do I Really Need Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection
When do I really need antibiotics for a sinus infection? is a question many patients have when suffering from bothersome sinus and allergy problems. While sinus infections can be quite painful, antibiotics often do not help in treating the condition.
Sinus infections affect approximately 37 million people in the U.S. each year and can be caused by:
- Nasal polyps or deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
The majority of sinus infections are viral in nature, and antibiotics do not cure viral infections. Taking antibiotics for viral infections also will not:
- Keep you from being contagious to others
- Relieve symptoms or make you feel better
In order to distinguish a bacterial sinus infection from an infection caused by a virus or other contributing factor, your doctor will observe your symptoms and possibly conduct other tests, such as a CT scan or cultures.
Antibiotics are only effective on bacterial infections, and even in cases involving bacteria, the body can often cure itself of mild or moderate infections within a few days.
How Long Do Antibiotics Take To Work On Sinus Infections
Often, sinus infections are treated with antibiotics. However, your doctor will determine the best treatment based on the root cause of your sinus infection. If antibiotics are prescribed, you may want to know how long it will be before you start to experience relief from symptoms.
Read on to find out how sinus infections are diagnosed, when your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, and how long it will take antibiotics to take effect.
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How Do You Get A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection can develop when there is swelling in the sinus cavities. If the sinuses become too swollen, they can narrow and become obstructedmaking it difficult for mucus to drain. When mucus builds and backs up within sinus passages, it can become infected and voilayou get a sinus infection. The most common cause of a sinus infection is a viral cold.
Like any virus, the virus that causes the common cold is highly contagious. However, thankfully, every cold does not develop into a sinus infection. So while viral sinus infections are caused by cold viruses which are indeed very contagious, the sinus infections that result, are not contagious. If you get a viral sinus infection, it should resolve on its own within two weeks.
You may be thinking, wait I thought the only way to clear up a sinus infection was by taking antibiotics. Nope, not true. Viral sinus infections wont respond to antibiotics. And taking antibiotics when you dont need to can be dangerous and contribute to antibiotic resistance. However, in the case where your sinus infection was spurred by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are exactly what you need to fight the infection.
If You Think You Have A Sinus Infection
If you feel you are experiencing sinus infection symptoms, make an appointment with your PartnerMD physician, and do not attempt to treat symptoms on your own. While you may initially be recommended OTC treatments, only your doctor can accurately diagnose your symptoms, and prescribe the right treatment for relief.
Have a question about your sinus infection symptoms? Contact us today to see if a relationship with a concierge doctor could be beneficial.
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Time Period Of Contagiousness
Bronchitis is most contagious in the first few days after the patient manifests notable symptoms. Considering the fact that viral infection is responsible for 90 percent of this acute respiratory disease, administering antibiotics is not always necessary. In other words, antibacterial therapy for bronchitis is applicable for only 5 10% patients. Also, antibiotics are recommended, if the person with acute bronchitis symptoms is suspected to have a secondary bacterial infection.
People having acute viral bronchitis recover after a few days, though dry cough may persist for a week or so. In general, patients diagnosed with acute bronchitis are given antibiotic treatment, if they remain symptomatic even after 10 14 days. Another identifiable sign of bacterial infection is productive cough with yellowish mucus. In addition to this, a sudden bout of acute bronchitis is not unusual in people having chronic bronchitis. For such a case, antibiotic medications are prescribed for prompt treatment. Even though the symptoms lessen after taking antibiotics, the contagiousness still continues for some days.
What Causes Sinus Infections And Are They Contagious
The most common cause I see for a sinus infection is from a viral infection. Other common causes include bacterial infections and allergies Dr. Varghese explains.
A virus, bacteria, or fungus can cause a sinus infection. Generally, acute sinus infections stem from viral colds, while chronic sinusitis typically results from a bacterial infection, nasal growths, or allergies. Sinus infections can develop from many different causes. The cause of a sinus infection can be contagious, depending on what it is.
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How To Prevent The Spread Of Contagious Sinus Infections
If you have a sinus infection, do your best to prevent the spread of any viruses that could get others sick. While the best thing would be to isolate yourself until you feel better, thats not always feasible or rational. Some easy precautions you can take to reduce the potential spread of sinusitis and respiratory viruses in general include:
- Thoroughly washing your hands in soap and water after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- Using hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands
- Stay home from work or school
- Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Wearing a face mask
Above all, make sure you see your doctor if you need any form of relief, develop a persistent fever, or have a history of chronic or recurrent sinus infections. You should also see your doctor immediately if you have:
- Severe, sharp headaches
Understanding Bacterial Sinus Infections
Bacterial sinus infections most often occur following a cold or flu when the sinuses have become blocked or filled with mucus. The inability for a blocked sinus to drain combined with the naturally warm, moist environment create optimal conditions for bacteria to grow and spread, eventually turning into a sinus infection.
The most common bacteria associated with sinus infections include:
- Haemophilus influenzae
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Streptococcus pneumonia
Bacterial sinus infections are more likely to be found in individuals who have symptoms for 10 to 14 days or exhibit more severe symptoms, such as a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher as well as facial pain lasting more than four days.
Although bacterial sinus infections can be more severe and last longer, they actually arent contagious. You cant spread the bacteria causing the sinus infection.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
So if you’ve ever had a sinus infection before, you know they feel pretty miserable: The more common symptoms are nasal congestion, discolored mucous from the nose, post nasal drainage, facial pain, facial pressure, decreased smell and taste, says Dr. Duyka. Some patients also experience ear pain, upper tooth pain, sore throat, bad breath, and/or cough.
But here’s some quick advice: That whole thing about the color of your snot telling you whether or not you have a bacterial or viral infection? That’s a myth, Donald Ford, MD, a family medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Health. “The green-yellow color of mucus that can develop is a byproduct of our own white blood cells, which we use to fight any kind of infection, viral or bacterial, so we cant tell the cause from the color of the mucus,” she says. When mucus is thick and dark it usually suggests some mild dehydration, and you should increase fluid intake and use lots of saline spray to keep the mucus thin.