Cold is one of the most common health hazards people face, especially during that time of the year when seasons transition. The weather is utterly unpredictable, and so is our health condition. Cold and Flu has a variety of terms associated with them, such as Seasonal Flu, viral infection, or Sinus Infection. It is a predefined notion that most people feel they are suffering from a sinus infection, and some might assume it to be too severe even during the initial stages. But the bigger question lies around- Are Sinus Infections Contagious?
What Is a Sinus Infection?
Before we get to resolving the question- Are Sinus Infection Contagious? It is essential to understand what the sinus is and how it gets affected due to a virus or bacterial infection. According to Pentadocs,
Sinus is a series of connected cavities in the skull and facial bones, located in the forehead, inside the cheekbones, and behind the nose. They help to asperse the air we breathe and assist in enhancing our voices while we do so.
Now, Sinus infection, also known as Sinusitis, occurs when all these sinus cavities get swollen, and there is a significant inflammation in the airways. There is the development of mucus in the area leading to severe bacterial or viral infection. It might seem similar to the common cold and Flu, but it is a little more troublesome than that.
There are mainly four stages or kinds of sinus infections based on how fast they progress and how long they stay.
- Acute Sinus Infection, wherein the blockage and other symptoms exist for less than four weeks.
- Subacute Sinus Infection, wherein the viral disease could last for a prolonged period of 12 weeks.
- Chronic Sinus Infection exists for a more extended period that exceeds 12 weeks and could be somewhere near a month.
- Recurrent Sinus Infection lasts for a year. It is seen in people who have a severe allergic reaction and feel a blockage in their airways throughout the year due to seasonal change and other external factors.
Some Causes of Sinus Infection
A few common reasons lead to the sinus cavities filling up with fluid and getting swollen, which leads to severe difficulty in breathing. A doctor would diagnose Sinusitis in an individual due to the following reasons:
Bacterial infection is a rarely occurring sinus infection in an individual. When a bacteria remains trapped inside any of our airways, it develops Sinusitis. Now, if you are wondering, Is a sinus infection contagious? Then you should make a note; if your doctor diagnoses bacteria as the reason for your Sinusitis, you need not worry about the transmissibility of the disease. Moreover, only about 2% of people receive a bacterial sinus infection.
Vital infection is one of the most common underlying reasons why a sinus infection occurs in a person. We all travel in the outside world every day, and it is more than evident to catch a virus since it is transferable from one person to another. So to answer your question; Are Sinus Infection Contagious?
The perfect revert would be a virus infection causing the disease. However, it is essential to know that not everyone contaminated with the viral infection would have a severe sinus infection. They might recover within a week. Hence, it would vary from one person to another.
Any Tumors in the Nasal Passage
It might sound like an unconventional cause of Sinusitis, but nasal tumors are a thing that could certainly develop a sinus infection. Sometimes tumors inside the nasal passage turn cancerous, and they cause severe inflammation in the airway filling enough mucus inside that makes it difficult for a person to breathe comfortably.
Unlike Nasal tumors, Nasal Polyps are non-cancerous growth of a tumor-like tissue in the nasal pathway that might result in a sinus infection. Most of the time, if these tumor growths aren’t cured early, it extends the period of the Sinusitis infection, making it exceptionally hard for people to breathe. People with lung infection problems might have a hard time coping with such uncertain tissue growth.
Some individuals face allergic reactions to a season change or consuming something that they are allergic to. It automatically triggers allergens in their body, causing them to develop a Sinus infection. Now any allergic reaction releases histamines inside the body, which develops congestion in the chest, swelling in the nasal passage blocking the airflow, constantly sneezing, etc.
There are also times that a person allergic to smoke or pollution inhales any of them and develops a sinus infection. Such people tend to suffer a lot in crowded spaces where there are more chances of coming into contact with a polluted environment and having difficulty traveling outside.
Some Common Symptoms of Sinus Infection
While we are trying to know, Are Sinus infections contagious? The most common symptom of Sinusitis is the development of cold and Flu. You would never know whether you are suffering from a common cold or the infection has turned out to be more hazardous than you thought. Analyzing the symptoms would clarify the exact feeling while suffering from the disease and give several other risk factors during this health condition.
- Pressure throughout the Sinus cavities passes through the cheeks, head, nose, and finally located in the forehead. This is why people often have a pressured feeling in their head while suffering from a Sinus infection.
- A consistent runny and stuffy nose
- Mild to severe sore throat
- Feeling of Fatigue
- Mild to High Fever
- An extended period of Bad Breath
- Loss of Smell
- Pain the tooth
- Pain in either one or both the ears
- Suppose one is suffering from a sinus infection caused by bacteria. In that case, there might be additional symptoms like nasal discharge, which is not cloudy, rather a puss/mucus-like substance, and consistent pain in the entire face.
Sinus Vs. Coronavirus: How to Differentiate?
As seen above in the blog, some Sinusitis symptoms overlap with that of Coronavirus. However, we all must know that the COVID virus is more contagious than a Sinus infection. Both are viral infections, but the COVID virus has proved itself to be fatal and life-threatening, especially for people who are already suffering from any chronic disease. While one might confuse their symptoms of Sinus with cold, the manifestation of COVID virus differs by:
- A rapid feeling of shortness of breath
- Severe pain throughout the body
- During this pandemic period, people have also shown digestive issues such as the frequent feeling of nausea, vomiting, Diarrhea.
- Unlike Sinus, where a person only loses the sense of smell, the COVID virus causes a person to lose both senses of smell and taste. Also, the loss of smell might not always involve a runny and stuffy nose during COVID.
Are Ear Infection Contagious During Sinusitis?
As part of the Sinusitis, the infection is likely to spread everywhere from where the sinus cavities pass through, and the ear is one of them. Along with feeling a consistent pressure in the form of headache, the sinus infection is contagious to the ears also. As mentioned above in the blog, Sinusitis causes either one or both ear pain.
There is sinus congestion from cold-causing blockages in all the airways affects the ears too. A tube connects the back of our throat to the nose going straight to the middle ear. It is known as the eustachian tube. These tubes are lined with the very same membrane as the nose and throat. So while the sinus infection causes the membrane to swell up, there is a blockage in the middle ear, and one feels the pain.
Ear Infections are only contagious to some other person when the reason behind its occurrence is a bacterial or viral infection. Hence, when we ask, are sinus infections contagious? Do we need to also enquire in which places it spread? The answer is yes because there would be a high probability of one developing an ear infection when experiencing a cold due to Sinusitis.
How Long Is a Cold Contagious?
Cold and Sinus might have the same symptoms, and they feel pretty similar to each other. However, Simus is more acute, and the infection could last more days than a cold. When we are asking, are sinus infections contagious? The answer could vary on which kind of infection you have contacted. But in the case of cold and Flu. The initial days of transmutability are higher than Sinusitis.
Dr. Jazmine Sutton, an MD in Cleveland Clinic, told Health.com that,
Viruses cause the most common colds and the highest infectious period is usually one to two days before symptom onset and during the first two to three days of symptoms. The typical symptoms would be a sore throat, runny nose, or a headache.
Dr. Sutton also mentions that the symptoms of a cold usually last between 1-2 weeks at max, and in most cases, the cold is not contagious to other people after one week has already passed. However, It is necessary to know that if the symptoms and the time duration exceed, it sure is not a common cold but much more than that.
The Bottom Line!
A sinus infection is more likely to remain contagious if the condition exceeds two weeks. You would know this by the symptoms you are experiencing, which require treatment of the sinus. Your doctor would recommend some medication if your symptoms have turned severe, such as excessive nasal passage swelling, green mucus, etc. Your doctor might also inspect your ears to check the severity of the pain. Most probably, a medical expert would recommend antibiotics to cure the symptoms.
However, suppose the symptoms are not too severe. In that case, you can try specific remedies such as Steam or a humidifier, a nasal spray (To help open the airways), and get over-the-counter medication (Acetaminophen for reducing pain and other medicines for Flu). If the symptoms seem contagious, try covering your mouth and maintaining a distance from transmitting the infection to other people.
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