When you have a cold or the flu, you likely know to stay away from others to prevent them from getting sick. But what about sinus infections? Are they contagious? Everyone is at risk for contracting a viral infection like the common cold or flu. However, some people are more susceptible to contracting a sinus infection than others. When it comes to catching a sinus infection, here’s what you need to know: Are sinus infections contagious?
What is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and infected. This can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungi. Symptoms of a sinus infection include headaches, facial pain, stuffy nose, and a non-productive cough. Sinuses are air-filled spaces in the bones of the face.
They are found behind the nose, around the eyes, and in the cheekbones. They help to moisten and warm the air you breathe by filtering the air and removing bacteria.
How to Stay Healthy and Avoid Getting Sick
If you want to reduce the risk of getting sick, there are some things you can do. Here are some tips to stay healthy and avoid getting sick in the first place.
Avoid touching your face – When you have your hands in your face, like when you are coughing or blowing your nose, you are at greater risk of getting bacteria on your hands and then transmitting that bacteria to other parts of your body, including your eyes.
Avoid large crowds – Large crowds are breeding grounds for germs.
Wash your hands – Make sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes – Your eyes are the most vulnerable part of your body to bacteria. That’s why it’s important to avoid touching your eyes.
Avoid sharing your personal hygiene items – Sharing items like towels, toothbrushes, or even water bottles can transmit bacteria from one person to another.
Viral Infections that Cause Sinusitis
Some of the most common viral infections that can cause sinusitis include:
Flu – This can be extremely contagious, especially during the fall and winter seasons.
Fever blisters (Herpes) – Herpes is a viral infection that causes fever blisters around the mouth and lips. Herpes zoster (Shingles) – This virus is found in the spinal nerve roots, and if it spreads to the facial nerves, it can cause shingles.
Herpes simplex – This is a common infection that causes fever blisters around the mouth and lips.
HIV – A virus that attacks the immune system. Common cold – This is the most common viral infection and is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes.
Bacterial Infections that Cause Sinusitis
Some bacterial infections that can cause sinusitis include:
Staphylococcus – This infection is caused by bacteria that is found on the skin and in our noses.
Staphylococcus aureus – This is found in the noses of about 30 percent of the population.
Staphylococcus epidermis – This bacteria can cause impetigo, a bacterial skin infection.
Other Reasons for Sinus Symptoms
Although viral and bacterial infections are the most common causes for sinusitis, there are some other reasons that you may be experiencing sinus symptoms.
Stress – This may cause increased mucus production, which can lead to sinus pressure and congestion.
Facial injury – If you have recently sustained an injury to your face, such as a broken nose, you may experience symptoms due to swelling and inflammation.
astroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – This disorder is caused by the stomach acid regurgitating into the esophagus. If the acid travels upward into the sinuses, it can cause inflammation and pain.
Staying hydrated – Not getting enough water can cause dehydration, which can lead to sinus pressure and congestion.
Allergies – If you have allergies, your immune system will overreact to allergens, which can cause inflammation.
Obstructive sleep apnea – This is caused by a partial or complete blockage of the upper airway.
Are sinus infections contagious?
Viral infections are contagious, but bacterial infections are not contagious. If you have a sinus infection, you can reduce the spread of the infection by washing your hands frequently, avoiding large crowds, and staying home when you are sick.
If you are in close contact with someone who has a sinus infection, you may want to consider getting a flu shot. While the flu shot will not protect you from a sinus infection, it will protect you from the flu and its more serious complications.
If you have a sinus infection, you can take steps to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others in the household, such as using a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and thoroughly washing your hands. You may also want to consider getting antibiotics if the infection does not improve after a few days. This will help to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading to others.
Tips to Avoid Contracting a Sinus Infection
If you have a sinus infection, there are ways to avoid spreading the infection to others:
Stay home when you are sick – If you have a sinus infection, you should stay home from school or work to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Keep surfaces clean – Try to keep surfaces clean to reduce the amount of bacteria in your environment. Wash your hands frequently – Use soap and water to wash your hands, especially after coughing or sneezing.
Hand sanitizer can be used if you don’t have access to soap and water.
Use tissues when coughing or sneezing – Use a tissue to catch the bacteria or viruses if you have a cold or flu.
Most viral infections cause sinusitis and are therefore contagious. Bacterial infections are rarely contagious because the bacteria usually die once you start taking antibiotics. That being said, it is important to note that everyone is at risk for a sinus infection, and there are things you can do to protect yourself and others from contracting it.
If you are experiencing sinus symptoms such as nasal congestion, pain around your eyes or face, or a cough, it is important to see a doctor to determine the cause. Sinus infections are treatable, but it is important to identify the cause to avoid further complications.