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Are Sinus Infections Contagious? Sinus infections are also known as sinusitis that often create problems in breathing. At times, the pressure create on your face also hurts.
As the condition tends to produce a lot of discharge, it makes you feel cough all the time and also produce discharge.
This is where it prove harmful and contagious, especially if its caused by some external agents like bacteria and viruses.
This post narrates you the most probable reasons why sinus infections often prove contagious. It will also help to grow your knowledge about the same also also how to rectify the condition by taking required measures.
What Else Causes Sinus Infections
In most cases, sinus infections are caused by a virus like the rhinovirus which also causes the common cold. Cold symptoms like runny nose and congestion can lead to mucus buildup in drainage pathways and increase risk for a sinus infection.
If you have a sinus infection caused by a cold or similar virus, the only illness youre able to transmit is the virus, not the actual sinus infection. However, if you spread your virus, people who pick it up are at an increased risk for developing a sinus infection, too.
Too Sick To Work Expert Weighs The Decision
Youre sniffling, sneezing, and your nose is running like a faucet. Its about that time of year when people everywhere are faced with the question: am I too sick to work?
I see a lot of patients whose jobs and stress make them feel torn between staying home and going in when theyre sick, says primary care physician and infectious disease specialist Robin Wigmore, MD. But viral infections like the common cold and flu are contagious. Its important to consider your coworkers health as well.
Before packing up your tissues for the office, make an informed decision by asking yourself some simple questions:
How long have I been feeling sick?
You are most contagious in the first 48 hours of a viral illness, says Wigmore. This is often even before you begin feeling symptoms.
This means staying home at the first sign of symptoms can reduce the risk of spreading your illness, while also giving you time to rest, stay hydrated and take care of yourself.
Are my symptoms contagious?
Typically, illnesses are passed through viral particles we spread into the air by coughing or sneezing. Certain cold and flu germs can survive on surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs and phones for up to 24 hours.
As a general rule, if you have a wet cough, a runny nose, fevers or aches, you should probably stay at home, Wigmore says.
If youre unable to see your primary care doctor quickly, urgent care centers can also treat the flu and other illnesses.
Heres a closer look at symptoms:
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How To Prevent A Sinus Infection
Prevention is really the key, she said. Staying healthy by drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest, decreasing stress and washing your hands are all good preventive steps.
Make sure you get recommended vaccines such as the flu vaccine. Also, dont smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. And avoid close contract with others who have colds or other upper respiratory infections, Melinda said.
Can You Catch A Sinus Infection From Somebody
If you are experiencing a viral sinus infection, you can’t 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.
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Diagnosis Of Sinus Infection
To diagnose if you have a sinus infection, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and their timeframe, and give you a physical exam.
This exam may include looking in the nose for signs of polyps, conducting a transillumination test to identify inflammation, and tapping the sinus area to detect infections.
If you have a chronic sinus infection, your doctor may conduct additional tests, including:
- Rhinoscopy or nasal endoscopy to inspect your sinuses and see if your membranes are inflamed
- Mucus cultures to determine what is specifically causing your infection
- Allergy tests to determine what allergens may be triggering your chronic or recurrent infections
- CT scan to identify sinus abnormalities, such as polyps or a deviated septum
- MRI scan to see if you have a nasal tumor or fungal infection
If you have a serious fungal sinus infection, your doctor may order a bone biopsy to see if the infection has penetrated your bones.
There are several types of sinus infections, which are classified by duration.
They include the following:
- Acute infections that last for about 4 or less weeks
- Subacute infections that last for about 4 12 weeks
- Chronic infections that last for longer than 12 weeks
- Recurrent infections that occur several times a year
Additionally, each type of sinus infection has several potential causes, including bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
- pressure in the sinus cavities
Sinus infections caused by bacteria have a few additional symptoms. These symptoms include:
How Long Does It Take For Acute Sinusitis To Go Away
Acute sinusitis should run its course in seven to ten days. Left untreated, recovery timeframes can up to two weeks or even longer. As mentioned previously, attempts to tough out your sinus infection may even lead to a contagious upper respiratory infection, strep throat, the flu or other chronic sinusitis complications. Long story short? Its better to nip this illness in the bud.
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What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Sinus Infection
Bacterial or viral, a sinus infection must be managed early on so that you dont run the risk of it developing into something worse. What happens if you let a sinus infection go untreated?
The infection could spread to the larynx, eyes and in some cases, the brain. Complications could go beyond laryngitis it may also lead to cavernous sinus thrombosis , brain abscess, dacryocystitis and meningitis.
But how do you get rid of your sinusitis when preventive healthcare missed the mark?
When your sinus infection isnt getting any better or youve had one several times a year, see a doctor.
Viral Sinus Infections: Contagious
Acute sinusitis caused by a virus or viral infection is often considered contagious. Interestingly, however, the sinusitis itself isnt whats causing you to be contagious. The culprit is, in fact, a virus, such as the one that causes the common cold. These viruses, such as rhinoviruses, influenza A, and influenza B, cause your body to respond with acute sinusitis, a symptom of a larger problem.
The symptoms of acute sinusitis caused by a viral sinus infection often last a week to ten days. During this time, its possible for the virus to spread from one person to another. The most common type of transmission occurs via hand-to-hand contact. Simple precautions such as hand washing can easily prevent the virus and acute sinusitis from spreading.
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About Author: Lisa Coon
Lisa Coon is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since August 2016. A Peoria native, she is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in journalism. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at several newspapers in Iowa and Illinois.She lives in Groveland with her husband and son. In her free time she likes to cook, bake and read. She freely admits that reality TV is a weakness, and she lives by the quote, The beach is good for the soul.
When To Visit An Ent
You may opt to visit an ENT if your sinus infection symptoms last more than one month. However, when a lingering sinus infection after antibiotics lasts more than 12 weeks, its definitely time to see a specialist.
If your doctor has treated you with antibiotics, saline, steroid sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants and youre still not better, youve entered into a confusing area. You need a thorough exam of your sinus pathways with a fiberoptic scope and a CT scan to properly diagnose the problem.
If at any point youre not sure whats going on and your primary care doctor isnt sure whats causing the symptoms, see an ENT for a more specialized exam.
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When To See A Doctor For A Sinus Infection
I recommend seeing a doctor if your symptoms dont improve within 10 days, says Dr. Varghese.
While you can certainly treat a sinus infection at home, sinusitis that lasts longer than a couple of weeks may be the result of an underlying condition that may need medical treatment.
Contact your doctor right away if you think you have a sinus infection and develop any of the following symptoms:
- A fever higher than 102°F
- Sinus symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks
- Forehead swelling
- Redness or swelling around your eyes
- Intense headaches or facial discomfort that doesnt go away
Will A Sinus Infection Go Away On Its Own
When you have a sinus infection, you want to do everything you can to make it go away. In cases where a sinus infection is viral, the best treatment is to follow the self-care tips outlined above and let your bodys immune system do its job.
The good news is that most sinus infections are viral and will go away on their own. It can, however, take time for your body to fight off the infection. In most cases, you should start to feel better within a week or two.
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How Do Signs And Symptoms Of A Cold Differ From Those Of A Sinus Infection
In the first few days of both diseases, symptoms and signs may be essentially the same and can include some or most of the following:
- Nasal irritation or dryness
- low-grade fever.
For colds, symptoms maximize in about 2-3 days and usually resolve in 7-11 days. For sinus infections, however, symptoms do not resolve after 7-11 days and additional symptoms occur, such as:
- Sinus pressure behind the eyes or cheeks
- Facial pain when pressure is applied to the frontal sinus
- Thick green or yellow mucus production
- Redness of nose, cheeks, and/or eyelids
- Persistent coughing
Turns Out It Depends On What’s Causing Your Sinusitis Here’s What To Know
Amanda Gardner is a freelance health reporter whose stories have appeared in cnn.com, health.com, cnn.com, WebMD, HealthDay, Self Magazine, the New York Daily News, Teachers & Writers Magazine, the Foreign Service Journal, AmeriQuests and others. In 2009, she served as writer-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She is also a community artist and recipient or partner in five National Endowment for the Arts grants.
Even though sinus infections are often caused by contagious organisms like viruses and bacteria, experts are not completely agreed on whether the infections themselves can be spread.
Part of the confusion lies in the fact that sinus infections can be caused by so many different things. A sinus infection can be caused by viruses or bacteria that cause inflammation where the sinuses drain into the nose, explains Lisa Liberatore, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The sinuses are a series of bony cavities in your skull designed to keep foreign particles like dust and germs out of your body. Theyre lined with mucus to trap those particles then, little hair-like projections called cilia sweep back to front to jettison the invaders from your body.
But inflammation can cause the mucus to get trapped, Dr. Liberatore says, and then germs can grow, which can lead to a sinus infection, or sinusitis.
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When Should I Seek Treatment For A Sinus Infection
If your sinus infection doesnt go away or if you keep getting sinus infections, its a good idea to reach out to a medical provider. Sinus infections that last more than 10 days or that are recurrent or chronic in nature are more likely to be caused by a bacterial infection or allergies.
To help determine if your sinus infection may be bacterial or allergy-related, a medical provider will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms and how long youve been feeling ill.
If its suspected that your infection is bacterial, a provider can prescribe antibiotics to help clear up the infection.
Recurring sinus infections are often related to allergies. In many cases a person may have an allergy to something in their environment and not even know it. Over time, repeated exposure to allergens like dust and pollen can intensify symptoms like nasal congestion and an itchy throat and lead to sinus problems including infections.
If you suspect your chronic sinus problems and infections are related to an undiagnosed allergy, see a medical provider who can provide a treatment plan that addresses how to get your allergies under control.
How Do You Prevent A Sinus Infection From Being Contagious
Follow good personal hygiene, so you dont pass on the infection to family or others. At home, practice preventive strategies from transmitting the disease.
- Wash your hands and sanitize if necessary
- Clean and sanitize your home, especially the surfaces
- Update your immunizations
- Avoid crowded places when youve got a cold
- Use a clean humidifier at home
A stuffy nose is sometimes not just clogged nasal passages. When your symptoms match a sinus infection, a contagious effect could occur. Dont spread the infection to others and manage your symptoms to prevent a sinusitis from worsening.
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Natural Home Remedies For Ear Infection
Armed with facts and my instincts, I have pursued natural and holistic healthcare and remedies for my family for over a decade now.
Weve treated strep throat, tummy bugs, upper respiratory illness, urinary tract infections, and ear infections with natural home remedies such as herbs, essential oils, homeopathy, and using food as medicine.
One day, the facts and my instincts may very well tell me that its time to trust a medical doctor with the care of someone in my family or myself in which case, Ill listen to both!
Ear infections are one of the easiest maladies to treat naturally and at home, however.
If you suspect an ear infection and still feel a trip to the doctor is necessary, by all means, go! But before you fill that prescription for antibiotics for yourself or your child, give some proven, natural home remedies for ear infection a try.
Here are five natural, no-antibiotic treatments for ear infections that work:
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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Who Is At Risk For Sinus Infections
Anyone can get a sinus infection, but some people are more at risk than others. Children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sick from a sinus infection. People who smoke cigarettes or have allergies are also more prone to developing sinus infections because their bodies cant fight off the bacteria or viruses as well.
When To Seek Medical Care
See a doctor if you have:
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or facial pain.
- Symptoms that get worse after improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without getting better.
- Fever longer than 3-4 days.
You should also seek medical care if you have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to a sinus infection, including:
- Seasonal allergies
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How To Avoid Spreading Sinus Infections
Sinusitis can easily develop as a result of a cold or virus, so spreading these illnesses puts other people at risk of developing a sinus infection. Viruses are spread by breathing in small droplets of water in the air, and also by touching surfaces where these bacteria are lingering. A sinus infection caused by a viral infection lasts about seven to 10 days, meaning you can be contagious with the virus for up to two weeks.
You can avoid spreading a cold by wearing a mask while you are sick, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and washing your hands frequently with soap and hot water.
Know When To See A Doctor
While most sinus infections will resolve themselves within a couple weeks without medical intervention, it is important to know when your sinus issues have escalated to the point that you should see a doctor.
You should call or see a doctor immediately if you experience:
- A fever over 102°F
- Double vision or difficulty seeing
- Swelling around the eyes
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