Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

Time saver 3 min read

So you’ve got a sinus infection, and you feel miserable, we totally get it. The sinus pain and pressure can make it feel like your head is going to explode. The last thing you want to do is to spread this horrible feeling to others around you, but how likely is that? Are sinus infections really contagious?

Well, it depends.

Most sinus infections are caused by either a virus or bacteria, but they can also be caused by an allergy.

Viral sinusitis

Viral sinus infections are the most common form of sinus infection. As the name suggests this is a viral infection and one thing we know about viruses is that they can easily spread. A viral sinus infection evolves from a common cold because it is caused by the cold virus. It’s this cold virus that makes you contagious. You can spread your cold to others you come into contact.

How to avoid it

The key is to avoid spreading the virus. Don’t over think this one, the same great advice against spreading viruses we hear every cold & flu season applies here.

  • Wash your hands. Most germs are spread by touch. If you have a virus on your hands and touch items or surfaces shared with others, you’re potentially spreading the misery.
  • Avoid touching your face. But how do those germs get on your hands? It happens every time we touch our mouth, nose, and eyes. Try to touch your face as little as possible and if you have to, wash your hands right away afterwards, and remember to use hand sanitizer.
  • Coughing and sneezing. Coughs and sneezes are going to happen, that’s part of your body fighting the virus off. To minimize spreading germs this way, cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow, rather than a hand or a tissue.
  • Don’t spread germs on surfaces. Keep the disinfecting spray handy, and wipe down shared surfaces more frequently than you usually would to kill viruses that might be hiding out there. Think about the less obvious surfaces too: cups, door handles, shared towels, etc.
  • Keep your distance. You can’t quarantine yourself completely but try to avoid the handshakes, hugs, and high fives until you’re feeling better.

To be safe you should consider yourself contagious as long as your viral symptoms are present. Follow the steps above, along with your virtuwell treatment plan, until you’re feeling better if you want to protect those around you from the same fate. Remember, you’re counting on them to look after you while you’re sick right?

Bacterial sinusitis

Bacterial sinus infections are uncommon. Only 0.5% - 2% of acute sinus infections are bacterial. While a bacterial sinus infection may be treated very differently than viral, there is a lot of overlap in the contagious question.

A bacterial infection develops over time when a virus creates the right environment. Again, that same virus can spread to others but doesn’t always turn into a sinus infection and the trapped bacteria are not easily spread. Here again, follow the steps to prevent spreading that initial culprit virus, and if you are on antibiotics, you’re much less contagious after 24 hours.

Allergic sinusitis

Allergic sinusitis is another cause but is no less painful. The good news is that an allergic sinus infection is not contagious and is easily treated. Your best strategy is to follow the advice in your virtuwell treatment plan and take any steps you can to limit your exposure to the allergens to prevent symptoms from developing.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your sinus symptoms, we can help. During a virtuwell visit, we’ll gather information about your symptoms with questions that are similar to those you’d be asked at your doctor’s office. This will help us determine what’s going on and the best way to get you feeling better.

Avoid spreading the germs this season, but please do your best to spread the word. If you know others who could benefit from this advice, please share it. The only thing we want to go viral this season is this post..

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