Runny Nose And Postnasal Drip
When you have a sinus infection, you may need to blow your nose often because of nasal discharge, which can be cloudy, green, or yellow. This discharge comes from your infected sinuses and drains into your nasal passages.
The discharge may also bypass your nose and drain down the back of your throat. You may feel a tickle, an itch, or even a sore throat.
How A Sinus Infection Is Treated
A sinus infection treatment depends upon type and symptoms. Common viral sinus infection treatment includes painkiller , antibiotics , nasal sprays, nasalÃ cleaners and stream . Over the counter nasal decongestants and antihistamines can also be used in cases of cough and chest congestion.
In some cases your doctor my prescribe topical nasal corticosteroids sprays to prevent and reverse inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages and sinus openings, addressing the biggest problem associated with sinusitis. The corticosteroids spray are effective by shrinking and preventing the return of nasal polyps.
For hard to treat sinus infections, where drugs have failed, surgery may be recommended as a last resort. It is usually performed by an otolaryngologist. Surgical treatment of sinus infections address anatomical defects of the respiratory tract to resolve the problem.
What Causes Sinus And Ear Infections
To understand whether a sinus or ear infection is contagious, you need to first understand what causes these types of infections. A sinus infection occurs when the sinus cavities around the nose become inflamed an ear infection occurs when the eustachian tubes or middle ear become inflamed. There are many different reasons an ear or sinus infection occurs. Most commonly, a viral infection like a cold causes acute sinusitis or a middle ear infection. However, sinus and ear infections can be caused by bacteria, allergies or other health issues.
There can be several factors involved in ear or sinus infections, especially for those with a chronic sinus infection that has lasted for more then three months. The cause of an ear or sinus infection is the key to knowing if the condition is contagious. The initial cause of the sinus or ear infection may have been a virus like the cold or flu. These viruses are contagious and can be passed to others. But how long are sinus infections contagious that are caused by colds/flu? The answer is only a few days from the time you catch the virus, usually no more than a week.
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When Should You See A Doctor About Your Sinus Infection
Most sinus infections stay viral and resolve on their own. But if home remedies arent helping, if your drainage turns yellow or green, or if your sinus infection sticks around for more than a week or 10 days, it might be time to give your ENT doctor a call.
Still have more questions about whether your sinus infection is contagious? Not sure if youre dealing with a viral or bacterial infection? Contact ENT Associates of Lubbock today, and we can help you figure out your next steps!
What Else Causes Sinus Infections
In most cases, sinus infections are caused by a virus like the rhinovirus which also causes the common cold. Cold symptoms like runny nose and congestion can lead to mucus buildup in drainage pathways and increase risk for a sinus infection.
If you have a sinus infection caused by a cold or similar virus, the only illness youre able to transmit is the virus, not the actual sinus infection. However, if you spread your virus, people who pick it up are at an increased risk for developing a sinus infection, too.
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Is A Sinus Infection Contagious
Sinus infections can be caused by a virus, a bacterial infection, or allergens. Less likely, is a fungal cause of your sinus infection. Viruses are the most common culprit of a sinus infection, and if you have a viral sinus infection you could pass on the sinus infection to others. Viruses are contagious. Bacterial infections can also be contagious. The condition of having swollen sinuses, filled with mucous, or sinusitis or rhinosinusitis is not necessarily contagious, however the cause of your sinus infection could be. Patients cannot catch allergies from others, and therefore, a sinus infection caused by an allergen in your environment and your bodys natural response to it is not contagious.
Experts disagree on whether or not a sinus infection caused by a bacterium is considered a contagious condition. Most times the bacterial infection in the sinuses is limited to only being in the sinus cavity. Because the bacterial infection is contained in the sinus cavity, the illness is thought to be only contagious in very rare situations. The instances of the very rare fungal sinus infections are not contagious as they are caused by exposure to fungus and mold spores in the environment.
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Treatment And Medication Options For Sinus Infection
Up to 70 percent of people with acute sinusitis recover without prescribed medications, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology .
Treatment for acute sinus infections focus on relieving symptoms, such as by:
- Drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest
- Flushing out the sinuses with a saline nasal wash like a Neti Pot or a saline nasal spray
- Inhaling steam several times a day
- Using a humidifier
- Resting a warmed, moist washcloth or a warm compress over your nose and cheeks
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How To Prevent The Spread Of Contagious Sinus Infections
If you have a sinus infection, do your best to prevent the spread of any viruses that could get others sick. While the best thing would be to isolate yourself until you feel better, thats not always feasible or rational. Some easy precautions you can take to reduce the potential spread of sinusitis and respiratory viruses in general include:
- Thoroughly washing your hands in soap and water after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- Using hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands
- Stay home from work or school
- Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Wearing a face mask
Above all, make sure you see your doctor if you need any form of relief, develop a persistent fever, or have a history of chronic or recurrent sinus infections. You should also see your doctor immediately if you have:
- Severe, sharp headaches
When To See A Doctor
Any person who experiences pain and pressure in the sinuses for longer than a week should seek medical attention. They should also address a persistent fever or a cough if they do not get better over time.
A doctor will perform an assessment of a person with these symptoms. Part of the assessment will be determining any history of sinus infections in the individual, as well as doing a physical examination.
A doctor will look for the following signs of sinus infections:
- swelling of nasal passages and tissues
- redness in the nasal passages
- bad breath
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When Will I Know That Someone Or My Child Is Cured Of Sinus Infection
When a sinus infection is caused by a virus, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and the virus must run its course. If a sinus infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Once a person feels better and no longer experiences symptoms, the sinus infection may be considered cured.
Acute sinus infections often recur. Additional medications used to treat acute sinusitis include corticosteroids, either in oral or nasal spray form.
In severe cases of chronic sinusitis, surgery may be needed to cure the condition.
Symptoms Of Bacterial Sinusitis In Children
In children, the symptoms of sinusitis may differ from those in adults. Children may experience:
- Scar tissue in sinus areas, for example from nasogastric tubes or mechanical ventilation
- Facial fractures
- Tooth or mouth infections such as a dental abscess
In general, women are slightly more likely than men to get bacterial sinusitis.
If youâve had a cold or any of the disorders listed above, and youâre concerned that you may have bacterial sinusitis, check out the Ada app for a free symptom assessment.
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Acute Subacute And Chronic Bacterial Sinusitis
Bacterial sinusitis can be grouped into the following subtypes based on the duration of symptoms:
- Acute, which lasts for less than four weeks
- Subacute, lasting for between four and 12 weeks
- Chronic, lasting for more than 12 weeks
- Recurrent acute, occurring four or more times a year, for more than seven days, with symptoms resolving completely in between bouts
How Is Sinusitis Spread
You can get it the same way you get cold and flu — by breathing it in or passing it from your hands to your mouth after touching something. Viruses get in the air after someone who is sick sneezes or coughs. They also can be passed on when someone shakes hands with someone who is sick or touches a doorknob or anything else the sick person has touched.
Who Can Get A Sinus Infection
Just about anyone can get a sinus infection. Theyre most commonly found in adults, but children and the elderly can also be affected. 20% of those diagnosed by a doctor with a sinus infection also have a family history of sinus infections. 15% of the people with chronic sinusitis correctly self-diagnosed themselves before seeing a medical professional.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
While most sinus infections will go away on their own without antibiotics, some patients will need to see a healthcare provider for prescribed antibiotics or other solutions to beat the infection.
You should seek medical care after experiencing any of the following:
- Severe headaches or intense facial pain that do not improve with appropriate doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen and decongestants
- Symptoms that get worse after initial improvement
- Symptoms that persist 10 or more days without improvement
- Fever over 100.4° F lasting longer than three days
- Fever above 102° F
- Problems seeing, double vision, or severe swelling and redness around the eyes
- Multiple sinus infections over the course of a year
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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 Sinus Infections Contagious What You Need To Know Here
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?
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How To Prevent A Sinus Infection
Prevention is really the key, she said. Staying healthy by drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest, decreasing stress and washing your hands are all good preventive steps.
Make sure you get recommended vaccines such as the flu vaccine. Also, dont smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. And avoid close contract with others who have colds or other upper respiratory infections, Melinda said.
How Long Do The Signs And Symptoms Of Sinusitis And Sinus Infections Last
- Acute sinusitis or sinus infections symptoms and signs last about three weeks if the signs and symptoms go away.
- Chronic sinusitis or sinus infections usually last about eight weeks or longer.
- Recurrent sinusitis is acute sinusitis that occurs several times over one year, which may develop into chronic sinusitis.
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Do I Need Antibiotics For Every Sinus Infection
Many sinus infections are caused by viruses, the ones that cause the common cold. These types of infections are not cured by antibiotics. Taking an antibiotic for a viral infection unnecessarily puts you at risk for side effects related to the antibiotic. In addition, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which may make future infections more difficult to treat.
How To Avoid Spreading Your Contagious Sinus Infection
David Cuthbertson, MD
The old adage, sharing is caring, doesnt apply to illnesses.
But with over 30 million Americans diagnosed with sinus infections every year, how can we be sure we arent spreading this particular ailment to those around us?
Should we to go to work or to the grocery store with a sinus infection? Or should we call in sick and order our groceries online?
Is a sinus infection contagious? And if it is, should you stay home? Wear a mask? Or carry on as usual?
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Favorite Resources For Finding A Specialist
Through research, education, and advocacy, the American Rhinologic Society is devoted to serving patients with nose, sinus, and skull base disorders. Their website provides a valuable search tool to find a doctor, as well as links to other medical societies and resources that are useful for patients.
When To See A Doctor About A Sinus Infection
On the other hand, a secondary acute bacterial infection may develop, so it’s advised that you see a doctor if your symptoms last more than 10 days or if your symptoms initially improve but then worsen again within the first 7 days.
See a doctor immediately if you experience:
- A persistent fever higher than 102 degrees F
- Changes in vision, including double vision
- Symptoms that are not relieved with over-the-counter medicines
- Multiple infections within the past year
- Sudden, severe pain in the face or head
- Swelling or redness around the eyes
- Stiff neck
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Describing A Sinus Infection By Cause
Another way to describe a sinus infection is by what kind of germ causes it. Most sinus infections are caused by viruses, just like the common cold.
Viral sinus infections generally end on their own without any medical intervention. They usually only affect the upper respiratory system, with symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, facial pressure, congestion and headache.
But sometimes viral infections can turn into bacterial infections. Inflamed, blocked-off sinuses encourage the kind of moist, vulnerable environment where bacteria can thrive.
You might have a bacterial sinus infection if your symptoms linger beyond about a week. If your drainage turns yellow or green, that could mean your viral infection has turned bacterial.
Bacterial sinus infections typically need a little help from antibiotics to clear up.
Lastly, even though the vast majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses and bacteria, it is possible to have a sinus infection caused by a fungus. Most fungal sinus infections are caused by an allergic reaction to a fungus in the air, like black mold. This type is called allergic fungal sinusitis.
Another type of fungal sinus infection called invasive fungal sinusitis exists, but is extremely rare. People who are otherwise healthy dont get this infection. This type of infection is possible in severely immunocompromised people, such as those going through chemotherapy or with poorly controlled diabetes.
How Are Sinus Infections Treated
Many sinus infections caused by a virus will resolve on their own without any treatment with antibiotics, Melinda said. This is important because if you dont need antibiotics, its better not to take them as they can cause side effects and long-term resistance. An infection caused by bacteria, however, will likely require antibiotics.
Sometimes your health care provider may ask you to take over-the-counter medications to help your symptoms and monitor your condition further.
Examples of over-the-counter medication include:
- Saline nasal spray
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief
- A warm compress on your nose and forehead to relieve sinus pressure
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