Sinus infections cause lot of discomfort, pressure and pain in the face and headaches. The other associated symptoms include formation of lots of mucus and discharge from the nose. Therefore, for many people sinus infections seem contagious, but the answer is – may be, as it depends on what caused such infections. Majority of the people don’t know what caused their sinus infections.
During a typical sinus infection, the sinuses are blocked and filled with mucus – owing to which the pressure that is built up can cause lots of discomfort, pain and heaviness. Bacteria flourish in such an environment by actively growing. If the infection continues for around 12 to 15 days, then the person may have bacterial infection. Bacterial infections cannot spread like viral infections.
Viruses cause sinus infections – and, in majority of the sinus infections cases, the cause is viruses. Therefore, if the cause of sinus infection in a person is a virus, then that person is more likely to spread that virus to others – and therefore, other persons too can get infected, but they might not become as sick as the one from whom they acquired the infection. They may suffer from cold and flu like symptoms but may or may nor get a sinus infection. Majority of the viruses that cause sinus infections cause cold and flu. Therefore, a cold or flu infection may or may not lead to sinusitis.
Apart from the bacterial and viral infections, sinusitis can also be caused by allergies, formation of polyps – abnormal tissue growth in the nose and deviated septum – the nasal septum is out of place or crooked. Sometimes, sinusitis or sinus infections can also be caused by polluted air, smoke, tobacco smoke and dry air. In general, you may not know the exact cause of sinusitis; therefore, it is better to avoid contact with diseased individuals.
How long is sinusitis contagious?
A person with sinus infection, if it is caused by virus may be contagious a few days before the infection and remain so as long as he or she has the infection. Sometimes, the virus may remain active for a few days or a few weeks or more.
How Is Sinusitis Spread?
If someone infected with viral sinusitis sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets spread in the air along with the virus and if you come in direct contact with those droplets or if you inhale them, you can catch the virus. If the droplets settle down on the infected person’s hands or body parts and you come in contact with them while shaking hands and touching their body parts you can catch the virus. In worst scenarios, if you come in contact with the door knobs, taps and sinks used by the infected person, you can catch the virus. Usually a cough or sneeze spreads within a radius of about 4 feet, and therefore, if you find someone sneezing or coughing, then try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from them.
If you ensure that the virus would not reach mucus membrane, then you can prevent infection. To ensure this:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, wash clothes, take shower regularly, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use sanitizers to clean doorknobs, phones, handrails and computer keyboards.
- Avoid crowds, public places and people who are coughing and sneezing.
- Do not touch mouth nose and eyes unless you wash your hands properly with soap and water.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s body fluids, like doorknobs, sinks, taps, clothes, bedding, needles, or medical equipment.