Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

August 21, 2023

The 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows about 28.9 million adults had sinus infections. This infection is also known as sinusitis, and many wonder if it is contagious. In this article, you will find answers to your question and many more helpful information.

Whether or Not Sinus Infections Are Contagious 

Sinus infections themselves are not contagious. They are usually caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi already present in the body. However, the underlying viruses or bacteria that can lead to a sinus infection can be contagious. For instance, someone with a cold or the flu can spread those viruses to others through coughing, sneezing, or close contact.

Direct contact with someone with a sinus infection is not likely to transmit the infection. The risk lies more in contacting the germs that can lead to the infection. Some practices can help reduce the chances of spreading these germs and potentially developing a sinus infection. They include; good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals.

Symptoms of Sinus Infections

Common symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Facial pain and pressure: Often felt in the forehead, cheeks, and around the eyes.
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to blocked nasal passages.
  • Runny or stuffy nose: Excess mucus production and drainage.
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Coughing: Especially at night due to postnasal drip.
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Headache

It's important to note that while viruses cause many sinus infections and resolve on their own within a few weeks, bacterial infections might require antibiotics. If symptoms are severe, persistent, or worsening, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options Available at Urgent Care

At an urgent care facility, diagnosis for sinus infections may include:

  • Medical history and symptom assessment: The healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, duration, and underlying health conditions.
  • Physical examination: They will examine your nasal passages and throat and may check for signs of infection.
  • Imaging: In some cases, an X-ray or CT scan might be ordered to assess the extent of the infection or to rule out other conditions.


Here are some common treatment options for sinus infections.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate discomfort and reduce fever.
  • Nasal decongestants
  • Nasal saline irrigation: Rinsing the nasal passages with saline solution can help clear mucus and relieve congestion.
  • Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection is suspected, antibiotics may be prescribed. However, antibiotics are not always necessary for sinus infections and should be used judiciously.
  • Rest and hydration
  • Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water can provide relief from congestion.

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