- Is It Contagious?
- Signs & Symptoms
- When To Seek Help
Facts you should know about a sinus infection (sinusitis)
- The majority of sinus infections are not considered contagious
- Symptoms of sinus infections may include:
- Acute sinusitis lasts about 3 weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis lasts about 8 weeks or longer.
- Usually, sinus infections are caused by viruses or bacteria that inhabit a person’s body.
- Acute sinusitis goes away after about 3 weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis usually lasts 8 weeks or more and can be recurrent.
- Usually, acute sinusitis is self-limiting.
- Chronic sinusitis may require more complex treatments.
- Treatments to help relieve signs and symptoms and cure a sinus infection include:
- Contact your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of:
Can you catch a sinus infection from someone?
Experts disagree about the contagiousness of sinus infections (also termed sinusitis and rhinosinusitis).
- Because bacteria and viruses (and occasionally, fungi) are the cause of most sinus infections, some experts say that the bacteria, viruses, or fungi can be transferred from person-to–person, and occasionally cause sinus infections.
- Other experts say that sinus infections, although caused by bacteria and viruses, occur because the conditions in the individual's sinuses are optimal for infection. Moreover, the infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that are already present in a person so person-to-person transfer is not required for them to develop.
However, the majority of doctors think that most people do not transmit sinus infections except in rare instances, and conclude that sinus infections are not contagious.
Still, there is widespread agreement that bacteria, fungi and/or viruses are transmitted from person-to-person (contagious) even if the disease, sinusitis, is not. It's recommended that individuals with sinus infections avoid direct contact (for example, through kissing) with those who are more prone to infection, for example: infants, the elderly, and those who have weakened immune systems to reduce the chance of transferring bacteria, fungi, and viruses to other people as they may cause problems other than sinus infections.
Viral or bacterial organisms that reside in the person's body are major causes of sinusitis.
Since the majority of doctors consider sinus infections to be non-contagious, the only spread of sinusitis would consist of the bacteria to the various sinuses within each person.
IMAGESSee a medical illustration of the sinuses plus our entire medical gallery of human anatomy and physiology See Images
How to tell the difference between a cold and sinus infection
Sinus infections usually begin with the symptoms of a cold (for example, a runny nose, occasional cough, and/or mild fever), and then develop into pain and pressure in the sinus cavities. About 7 to 10 days after initial cold-like symptoms other symptoms develop that suggest you may have a sinus infection.
Sinus infection symptoms include:
- A yellowish-greenish nasal discharge that may have an odor
- Bad breath
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Sinus headaches
- Pressure in the sinuses
Many people with a sinus infection or sinusitis may develop signs and symptoms that include:
What are the stages of sinus infection?
A sinus infection can be broken down into several stages. These stages vary in severity and length depending on their cause and other factors.
The four most common stages of sinus infection include:
- Acute sinusitis or sinus infections symptoms and signs last about three weeks if the signs and symptoms go away.
- Subacute sinusitis usually lasts 4-12 weeks with symptoms that may become less severe but are more persistent.
- Chronic sinusitis or sinus infections usually last about eight weeks or longer.
- Recurrent sinusitis is acute sinusitis that occurs several times over one year and may develop into chronic sinusitis.
Will a sinus infection go away without antibiotics?
A person may be "cured" of a sinus infection when the symptoms stop, usually after about 3 weeks. However, a "cure" often is temporary in some people that either have chronic or recurrent sinus infections. Bacterial sinus infections may benefit from antibiotics (sometimes long-term antibiotic treatment is required before the patient is "cured" of a bacterial sinusitis), but there is no antibiotic treatment for viral sinusitis.
What meds are best for sinus infection?
- acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (for example, ibuprofen [Advil and Motrin] and naproxen [Aleve]).
Prescription medications to reduce asthma symptoms may reduce the tendency to develop sinusitis.
Surgery for sinusitis and sinus infections
Some people may need to have surgery or other procedures to open up narrowed or obstructed nasal or sinus passages in people with the following conditions:
When should I be worried about a sinus infection?
If you develop persistent fever or have a history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis or if you have sinus symptoms that don't improve or get worse, you should contact your doctor.
Seek medical care immediately if you develop:
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
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CT Scan vs. MRI
CT scan (computerized tomography) is a procedure that uses X-rays to scan and take images of cross-sections of parts of the body. CT scan can help diagnose broken bones, tumors or lesions in areas of the body, blood clots in the brain, legs, and lung, and lung infections or diseases like pneumonia or emphysema.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a procedure that uses strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency energy to make images of parts of the body, particularly, the organs and soft tissues like tendons and cartilage.
Both CT and MRI are painless, however, MRI can be more bothersome to some individuals who are claustrophobic, or suffer from anxiety or panic disorders due to the enclosed space and noise, the machine makes.
MRI costs more than CT, while CT is a quicker and more comfortable test for the patient.
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