Sinus infections, often called sinusitis, are sometimes confused with the highly contagious common cold.
However, just because sinus infections and colds have similar symptoms does not mean that all sinus infections are as contagious as a cold.
It depends on the cause of a sinus infection whether it is communicable or not.
What is it?
Sinuses are hollow cavities that can be found in the cheeks, on either side of the nose, behind the nose, and in the forehead.
Normally, these spaces are airy and bordered by a thin coating of mucus.
When the tissues around these hollow spaces enlarge or become infected by bacteria, fungus, or a virus, a sinus infection results.
Are sinus infections contagious?
Sinus infections can be caused by a variety of causes, some of which are communicable.
A virus-caused sinus infection is infectious and rapidly spreads from person to person.
Sinus infections caused by a deformity, nasal obstruction, or allergies are not communicable.
Sinus infections are classified into several categories.
Sinus infections are divided into different categories based on how long they last.
The following are some of them:
- Acute – Infections that persist for four weeks or less
- Subacute – Infections that last between 4 and 12 weeks
- Chronic – Infections that continue longer than 12 weeks
- Recurrent – infections that recur on a yearly basis
Furthermore, each form of sinus infection can be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
Because of blockages in the nasal passages or malformations in the sinus cavities, some forms of sinusitis simply cause swelling and irritation. Sinus infections can also be caused by allergies and long-term exposure to pollution.
Sinus infections are frequently mistaken for a nasty cold. People may find it difficult to tell the difference between a cold and a sinus infection. Some of the symptoms are similar to those of a cold. These are some of them:
- pain in the teeth
- pain in one or both ears
- pressure in the sinus cavities
- bad breath
- cloudy nasal discharge
- stuffiness of the nose
- postnasal drip
- sore throat
Bacterial sinus infections have a few additional symptoms. These signs and symptoms include:
- facial pain
- symptoms lasting longer than a week
- pus-like or thick nasal discharge
The majority of sinus infections are treated solely for symptom relief. There are numerous alternatives for alleviating annoying symptoms.
These are some of them:
- oral steroids for more severe infections
- nasal irrigation to reduce mucus drainage and remove irritants
- medicated nasal sprays containing corticosteroids that reduce inflammation
A doctor would usually prescribe medicines to destroy the bacteria in cases of bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotics may be required for up to two weeks if a person has bacterial sinusitis.
Treatment for chronic or recurring sinus infections will also seek to address the underlying cause and shorten the length or frequency of infections.
A doctor may recommend injecting steroids straight into the nasal passages to relieve inflammation in these circumstances.
A doctor may recommend surgery to open up the sinus passages and give them more room to drain in cases of chronic sinusitis that are resistant to treatment. A doctor may provide allergy shots in the case of chronic sinus infections caused by allergies.\
A person may choose to self-treat a sinus infection at home in some instances. Until the sinus infection clears up, people can take over-the-counter drugs to treat their symptoms.
The following are some of the most frequent over-the-counter remedies for sinus infections:
- Acetaminophen: Pain and tenderness caused by enlarged nasal passages are reduced.
- Decongestants: reduce the amount of mucus that is produced
- Cold medications: Drugs that treat a wide range of symptoms, such as congestion, pain, and cough
Additional therapies may be beneficial in conjunction with at-home treatment. Steam or a humidifier, for example, can assist cleanse nasal passages.
Some people use nasal irrigation at home to eliminate extra mucus and clear their airways.
Essential oils can be used by people who are interested in herbal or natural remedies.
Lemon oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil are some oils that may aid with sinus strain. Essential oils should be used with caution because they are not regulated or controlled by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
When should you see a doctor?
Anyone who has been experiencing pain and pressure in their sinuses for more than a week should contact a doctor. If a chronic fever or cough does not improve with time, they should be addressed.
A doctor will examine a person who exhibits these symptoms. A physical examination and a determination of the individual’s history of sinus infections will be part of the evaluation.
The following indicators of sinus infection will be looked for by a doctor:
- bad breath
- tenderness of the face
- swelling of nasal passages and tissues
- greenish mucus
- redness in the nasal passages
A doctor might also inquire about your pain. Pain in the ears, teeth, and areas surrounding the nasal passages are typically of interest to doctors.
If a sinus infection has lasted more than a week and the doctor suspects a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Antibiotics aren’t always required because infections might be caused by viruses, allergies, or nasal abnormalities.