Is Acute Sinusitis Contagious?

Acute Sinusitis. Is it Contagious?

If you are not familiar with acute sinusitis, you may be wondering if it is contagious. You hear about other people getting sinus infections all the time during certain seasons, and you want to know if you should steer clear of these individuals when they are sick. This is a complicated issue, but the simple answer is that no, you cannot catch a sinus infection (in most cases).

Basics About Acute Sinusitis

Acute Sinusitis is defined as being a short-term inflammation or infection of the membranes that line your sinuses. Since the person has inflamed membranes, he or she will have very little to no drainage of mucus. This translates to stuffy nose and pressure along the cheekbones and running up to the forehead area. All of this is connected, making it quite uncomfortable and even painful to have a sinus infection.

You may be surprised to learn that over 37 million Americans develop acute sinusitis every year. This is due to the fact that many conditions and illnesses can cause it. These include the following:

This is certainly not a full list of the causes of acute sinusitis. There are numerous issues involving infections that can cause complications, leading to sinus infections.

Factors That Can Increase Your Risk for Acute Sinusitis

There are several factors that may put you at a higher risk for developing acute sinusitis, which include the following:

  • Hay fever or allergies
  • Smoking or breathing in pollutants on a frequent basis
  • A weakened immune system
  • Flying, scuba diving, and other conditions that cause pressure changes
  • Attending daycare, preschool, and other places in which contagious viruses often spread
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • A disease that affects cilia motility, including Kartagener syndrome

Acute Sinusitis Symptoms

There can be varied symptoms for each person with acute sinusitis, including the following:

  • Issues with bad breath
  • Headache, along with pressure and tenderness around the cheek, eye, nose and forehead areas
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Mucus discharge that can be green or yellow, and often is thick
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fever
  • Reduced sense of taste and smell due to a stuffy nose
  • Cough that becomes worse at night

What Should I Do?

Having acute sinusitis can be a real problem, making it hard to function on a daily basis. It can really leave you feeling out of commission for a week or two. In many instances, you will be able to treat it enough to clear it up completely at home. This includes staying away from cigarette smoke, breathing in steam to clear the nasal passages, drinking hot beverages such as tea, and getting plenty of rest. You even may choose to take an over the counter remedy, such as a cold and sinus pill once a day and medication that will help you with the symptoms.

You will want to make sure that you visit your doctor if you still are experiencing the symptoms beyond two weeks. If it shows no signs of improving, you run the risk of developing sub-acute sinusitis or a chronic sinus infection. If left to worsen, this may cause infection in your bones, eyes and ears, and even to meningitis.

If your sinus infection is a result of a virus and has been caused by a cold, it will be contagious to others as it can be spread through droplets when you cough or sneeze. However, a sinus infection can have different causes, and is not contagious in and of itself. It is better to be safe than sorry, so be sure that you are not sharing drinks or eating from the same container when you are sick, or someone close to you is sick with acute sinusitis. By performing preventative measures, you can “get over” your infection quickly and keep other people from becoming ill.

Use Caution When You Have Acute Sinusitis

Make sure that you wash your hands as often as possible, carry hand sanitizer, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and do not allow anyone to share drinks or food with you while you are sick. Since we often cannot tell how the case of sinusitis occurred, this will keep you from spreading the germs and potentially getting a loved one sick.

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Last Reviewed:
June 04, 2017
Last Updated:
June 04, 2017