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  • Writer's pictureJese Reyes

Is a Sinus Infection Contagious?

Sinus infection is a significant health condition that affects 31 million people in the United States. It is responsible for 16 million doctor visits, with affected patients spending approximately $ 1 billion on over-the-counter medication.

If you have a stuffy nose that isn’t improving, you may have a sinus infection called sinusitis. Sinusitis causes the space inside your nose(sinuses) to swell, interfering with airway drainage and leading to mucus build-up.

Fortunately, most people who get sinus infections get better independently without needing medication. Equally, a doctor may give you a delayed prescription to watch how your immune system responds to the condition.

If you suspect a sinus infection, consider visiting a trusted urgent care center with board-certified physicians available on a walk-in basis.

Here’s what you need to know.

Is Sinus Infection Contagious?

Sinus infection on its own is not contagious. However, the virus or bacteria that caused it makes it possible to spread to other people. For instance, if a virus causes it, it becomes contagious.

In other instances, sinuses can be blocked and filled with mucus, allowing bacteria to grow and cause an infection. If your sinus infection lasts for 10-14 days, it is likely to be bacterial sinusitis, which is contagious.

The person who comes in contact with a sinus infection caused by a virus will likely develop a cold. People can avoid sinus infections by practicing handwashing, avoiding sick people, and sneezing or coughing into their elbows when sick.

Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

The common symptoms of sinus infections include;

  • Bad breath

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Mucus dripping down your throat

  • Stuffy nose

  • Runny nose accompanied by thick green or yellow mucus

  • Ear pain or pressure

  • Cough

  • Pressure on your face around the nose, eyes, or forehead

  • Tenderness on the face under the eyes and at the bridge of the nose

What Causes Sinus Infection?

Sinus occurs when respiratory fluid builds up in the sinuses—four paired cavities in your head. The fluid build-up creates conducive conditions for the growth of germs. Viruses cause most sinus infections, with bacteria causing a few cases.

Specific triggers for sinus infections include;

  • Flu-Influenza

  • Common cold

  • Nasal or seasonal allergies

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

Diagnosis of Sinus Infections

A physician diagnoses sinus infection based on your symptoms and health history. For instance, a doctor may check your eyes, nose, or throat for any signs of swelling, blockage, and how it’s draining.

A doctor may also use an endoscope— a small lighted medical instrument— to look inside your nose. If need be, a physician may refer you to a specialist (ENT)—Ear, Nose, AND Throat) Specialist for further examination.

Here are the tests used by doctors to diagnose sinus infections.

  • Nasal Swab: A doctor can use a nasal swab to check the type of infection you have and which treatment best suits it. The test involves taking samples from cells inside your nostrils or the uppermost part of your nose or throat.

  • Biopsy: Although rarely used, biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where a small piece of tissue is extracted from the mucosal lining of the nose. It is used to examine abnormal tissue observed during physical examination.

  • Imaging: The doctor may also request a CT scan to analyze your sinuses further.

  • Allergy Test: An allergy test can help determine the triggers if you have chronic sinusitis.

Treatment of Sinusitis

Treatment of sinuses depends on the symptoms and how long you’ve had them.

Here’s how you can relieve sinus-related pain and pressure at home;

  • Using decongestants

  • Drinking plenty of fluids

  • Breath in steam from a bowl of hot water or a hot shower

  • Compress your nose or forehead with warm water

  • Nasal saline rinsing

  • Over-the-counter medication for colds or allergy

  • Speak to a healthcare provider about over-the-counter medications to help you feel better.

If your symptoms do not improve after 10 days, they can recommend the following medications;

  • Antibiotics

  • Oral decongestants

  • Intranasal steroid sprays

Alternatively, a doctor may recommend the following;

  • Watchful Waiting: Your physician may recommend you watch and wait for 2-3 days to see if you need antibiotics. The 2-3 days window allows your immune system to fight off the infection. If your condition doesn’t improve, they may recommend some antibiotics.

  • Delayed Prescription: The doctor may prescribe you some drugs but advise a 2-3 days waiting period before filing the prescription. Interestingly, you may recover before the window lapses and not need antibiotics.

How to Prevent Sinus Infection

You can prevent a sinus infection by staying healthy and keeping others healthy.

Here are a few helpful tips;

  • Clean your hands

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke

  • Keep away from allergies

  • Avoid close contact with people who have colds and respiratory infections

  • Use a dehumidifier to balance air moisture at home

Risk Factors of Sinus Infections

Factors such as previous cold infection, seasonal allergies, weakened immune system, smoking and secondhand smoke, and structural problems with sinuses increase your risk of getting a sinus infection.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center for Sinus Infection

See a physician if;

  • You have a fever that lasts for 3-4 days.

  • You have symptoms that worsen after days of improvement.

  • You have severe symptoms, including headache or facial pain.

  • You have multiple sinus infections in a single year.

A typical sinus infection should improve on its own. However, if you have symptoms that concern you or repeated infections, talk to a healthcare provider.

Time to Breathe Easy; Get Quick Sinus Infection Relief From Lifeline Urgent Care Center

Although sinus infection has mild symptoms like stuffy nose, facial pressure, headache, and runny nose, it can worsen. If left untreated, a sinus infection can develop into a life-threatening condition linked with chronic sinusitis, meningitis, and vision problems.

With that in mind, seeking prompt and quality care from a nearby urgent care center is advisable.

Lifeline Urgent Care Center is open for extended hours and does not require appointments, making us an ideal facility for sinus infection treatment.

Contact us online or call us at 281.771.1144 to speak to one of our team members.

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