Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

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It is possible to spread the virus if you have a viral sinus infection. However, this does not guarantee that another person will get a sinus infection.

Are Sinus Infections Contagious
Sinus Infections

Do sinus infections spread easily?

It’s possible to infect someone else with the virus that caused your sinus infection. They might get a cold as a result of this, which might turn into a sinus infection.

It’s not always a virus that causes sinus infections. Infections can occasionally also be caused by bacteria and fungi. It is not contagious if bacteria are the cause of a sinus infection.

A sinus infection is also known as rhinosinusitis or sinusitis.


Germs can grow in the sinuses if fluid or mucus becomes trapped. This can result in a sinus infection. The following are some of the most common causes of sinus infections:

  • viruses, such as those that cause cold or flu
  • bacteria
  • fungi
  • nasal polyps, which are growths in the nose
  • nasal tumors
  • allergies
  • deviated septum, which is when the wall between the nasal passages is crooked or off-center

The majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses. If your sinus infection is caused by a virus, it may be contagious. Spreading the virus to someone else does not guarantee they will get a sinus infection. In most cases, they will only catch a cold. Their cold may progress to a sinus infection, but this does not always occur.

When you sneeze or cough, you can spread the virus that is causing your sinus infection to another person through the air. When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth to reduce the spread of infection.

If you sneezed or coughed directly into your hands, you can spread the virus by touching another person or object, such as a doorknob. When you’re sick, it’s best to cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow and wash your hands frequently.

Bacteria can also cause sinus infections, which are not contagious. You cannot spread them to others. Bacterial sinus infections are rare. Bacteria are responsible for less than 2% of sinus infections.


The symptoms of sinus infection include:

  • pain or pressure in the sinuses, on the forehead, between the eyes, on the sides of the nose, or at the upper jaw
  • headache
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • inability to smell
  • thick, yellow, green, or cloudy nasal discharge
  • postnasal drip, which is when mucus or fluid from the nose goes down the throat
  • sore or irritated throat
  • cough
  • bad breath
  • fever
  • fatigue

The duration of your symptoms may vary. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a cold and is only temporary. Symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days. A bacterial infection can prolong the duration of acute sinusitis.

Chronic sinusitis is a long-term condition that can reoccur. Chronic sinusitis symptoms can last for up to 12 weeks.


There are several treatment options for sinus infections. Most treatment plans start with:

  • saline nasal irrigation and saline nasal sprays
  • over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants
  • OTC pain relievers
  • OTC fever reducers
  • antihistamines
  • mucus thinners
  • rest

If home and OTC remedies don’t work, your doctor may recommend other treatments, including:

  • antibiotics
  • nasal corticosteroids and sprays
  • nasal antihistamine sprays
  • oral or injected corticosteroids
  • immunotherapy
  • sinus surgery

Antibiotics only work for sinus infections caused by bacteria. They won’t help infections caused by viruses.

When should you go to the doctor?

Call or see the doctor immediately if you have:

  • a fever above 102°F (38.8°C)
  • problems seeing or double vision
  • swelling and redness around the eyes
  • a swollen forehead
  • a stiff neck
  • confusion
  • intense pain and headaches that don’t go away
  • sinus symptoms that last more than 12 weeks

You should also see a doctor if you have multiple sinus infections within a year or if over-the-counter medications do not relieve your symptoms.

Sinus infections can, in some cases, lead to other complications. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor right away:

  • other infections, including osteomyelitis (bone infection) or cellulitis (skin infection)
  • loss of smell that is permanent or temporary
  • meningitis


If your sinus infection is caused by a virus, you may be able to spread the virus to others. They may not get a sinus infection, but they may catch a cold. Take precautions if you have a sinus infection to prevent the virus from spreading. Regularly wash your hands, and sneeze and cough into your elbow instead of your hands. Avoid congested areas if possible to reduce the number of people who may be exposed to the virus.

A sinus infection can often be treated with rest, home remedies, and over-the-counter medications, but any serious or long-term condition should be evaluated by a medical professional.


Is it a cold or sinus infection — and am I contagious?

Sinus Infection: Is it Contagious? – WebMD


How long does a sinus infection stay contagious?

A sinus infection caused by a viral illness lasts seven to ten days, which means you’ll be contagious for up to two weeks. If your symptoms linger more than 10 days, or if they go away after a week but return a few days later, you have a bacterial sinus infection that cannot be shared.

Can I be around someone with a sinus infection?

If you have a viral sinus infection, you cannot convey the infection to others, but you can share the virus. Someone who contracts the virus from you is more likely to develop a sinus infection. You could be contagious for two weeks. Bacteria can also cause sinus infections.

Should I stay home with a sinus infection?

Sinus infections can be either viral or bacterial in nature. “In either case, it’s preferable to stay at home,” Wigmore advises. Contagious viral sinus infections are common. If your symptoms have lasted more than a week, or if you have significant facial discomfort, teeth/jaw pain, or fever, you may have a bacterial infection and should see a doctor.

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