Sinus Infection – Is Sinusitis Contagious? Risk & Treatment

sinus infection

Sinus infection or sinusitis generally caused by allergies and pollution that generated irritations around nasal passages. It may further cause inflammation of air cavities.

Generally, it does not spread to one person to another. But if the infection caused by the viruses, there may be chances of spread. In some cases, bacteria and fungus may cause sinusitis.

It is generally diagnosed based on the patient’s background, genetics, and exposure. Bacterial sinusitis can be treated with antibiotics.

The OTC medication is available for taking care of the sinus infection. The medications are including acetaminophen, mucolytics, and decongestants are available.

The severe sinus infection may cause other complications such as meningitis, brain abscess, osteomyelitis, and cellulitis.

What is Sinus Infection/ Sinusitis?

What is Sinus Infection/ Sinusitis?
fig 1- What is Sinus infection?

A sinus is an air-filled cavity that is present in the skull and connected with a nasal airway through a cavity. A person has four pairs of these cavities.

  • frontal sinus presents in the forehead
  • maxillary sinus present behind cheeks
  • ethmoid sinus present between eyes
  • sphenoid sinus

These four pairs of sinuses have made of mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells, and immune cells.

Sinus infection is nasal congestion filled with germs, the fluid that further block the air passage. This blockage leads to further infection. It is an inflammation or swelling of the nasal passage.

It is also known as rhinosinusitis. This infection generally takes place in the upper respiratory tract. There are several conditions for the sinusitis.

  •  The common cold can cause the sinusitis
  • Allergic rhinitis can cause inflammation of the lining of the nose
  • A deviated septum is the condition of the bone and cartilage that divides the nasal cavity.

Types of Sinusitis

Sinus infection may be classified based on duration and inflammation.

Based on duration, it may be classified as: –

Acute Sinus Infection

Acute sinus infection is a short term inflammation of the nasal airway and lining around the sinus also known as acute rhinosinusitis. It usually lasts less than 3-5 days.

Subacute Sinus Infection

It is the temporal progression of sinus infection. It usually lasts one to three months.

Chronic Sinus Infection

A chronic sinus infection that usually lasts for more than 12 weeks. It does not cause by the bacterial infection. This generally happens when the tissue inside the sinus becomes swallowed and lasts for a prolonged period.

On the Basis of Infection & Allergies

Infected Sinus

It is caused by viruses and bacteria. Sometimes the fungal infection is also the main reason. Chronic sinus occurs due to the absence of proper treatment of acute sinus.

Allergies Based Sinus

This is caused by allergic dust or irritant particles. Initially, acute infection occurs. It is important to take medication when acute infection happens otherwise, it may further lead to chronic.

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Sign & Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms of this infection. Here is the following list of sinus infection give below. Most of the patients have experienced many symptoms at the time of infection occurs.

  • Headache is the most common symptoms amount the patient of sinusitis. This may cause blockage of sinus tissues.
  • Nasal tissue inflammation due to blockage of the open sinus. Along with nasal inflammation, facial swelling occurs around the facial areas over the sinus point.
  • Unwanted pressure around the swelling or inflammation of the tissues present in the sinus.
  • Nasal obstruction is also a main symptom in both infected and non-infected sinus.
  • Recurrent fever due to the swelling and pain of sinus.
  • Bad breath and cloudy discharge through the nose, it generally occurs in bacterial and fungal infection.
  • Overproduction of mucous inside the throat.
  • Sore throat
  • Tooth pain caused by the swelling around nerve and tissue.
  • Ear pain due to the pressure of inflamed tissues
  • Cough
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue

Causes of Sinus Infection

Types of Sinus and Infection
FIg-2 Types of Sinus Infection

This is generally caused by infectious microorganisms blocks the sinus airflow and due to the dust particles blocks usually enter through the passages of a nasal sinus. Moreover, these infectious particles and microorganisms cause drainage of mucous out of the sinus. Opening of sinus blocks due to the inflammation of tissues.

Common cold, allergic particles, and infectious microorganisms irritate the tissues of the sinus. Apart from these, nasal spray and smoking can trigger the infection.

Sometimes, tumors around the sinus tissues can also a reason for this infection.

Few of nasal disease, dehydration, tissue irritants, and OTC nasal sprays can decrease the humidity that may further cause the sinus.

Other medical conditions including cystic fibrosis, HIV, and other immune systems can lead to sinus infection.  Hay fever

Respiratory tract infections can inflame your sinus membranes and block mucus drainage. These infections can be caused by bacterial, viral, and fungi.

Deviated nasal sputum may obstruct the nasal passage making the symptoms of infection worst.

Diagnosis of Sinus Infection

Infection is generally diagnosed on the basis of symptoms of the patient and the history of the disease. Sometimes, it is diagnosed with the help of a CT scan and MRI. But this facility is not available in most of the clinics. The doctor generally diagnosed it on the basis of physical examination including.

  • Redness and inflammation of eyes and nasal tissues
  • Pus-like mucous drainage from the nose and sore throat
  • Fever and tenderness around the eye and cheeks

If the infection is not cured with the initial treatment of medication, then a CT scan and MRI are the second stages of examination of the infection. But in the pregnant woman, this examination is not approved and followed by the ultrasound.

Endoscopy procedure is performed in a few patients for the confirmation of infection. Both rigid and flexible endoscopy has been performed to find the cause of sinus infection.

Sometimes, it is essential to perform needle puncture of the sinus to get the cause of sinus. Culter test is helpful in finding what bacteria or fungus causing sinus.

A biopsy procedure is another way to find out the fungal infection that can cause sinus.

Risk Factors & Complications


Meningitis. A severe infection of sinus can cause life-threatening condition meningitis. In addition to this, it can affect the structural problem.

Vision Problem. Once the sinus infection reaches the eye socket, it can create a vision problem by changing the structure of the eye.

Suppressed Immune System. This is the most susceptible individual complication in a patient who experiences sinus infection including diabetes.

Risk Factors

  • Asthma
  • Aspirin sensitivity
  • Autoimmune disease including HIV and cystic fibroids
  • Allergic conditions
  • Regular exposure to smoke and pollutants.

Treatment of Sinus Infection

Symptoms of Sinus Infection
Fig 3- Symptoms of Sinus Infection

Oral or injected corticosteroids. These medications help to cure swelling of the infection, especially if you also have nasal polyps. Oral corticosteroids can lead to serious side effects when it is used for prolonged periods. It is usually recommended for severe infection.

Nasal corticosteroids. These nasal sprays used to prevent and cure the swelling around the nasal passage. If the sprays do not work properly, your doctor might recommend other medications for the relief. Few examples of nasal corticosteroids are given below.

  • fluticasone
  • triamcinolone
  • budesonide
  • mometasone
  • beclomethasone

Aspirin desensitization treatment. In this process, you are given a large dose of aspirin that might increase your tolerance towards the aspirin, if you experience the infection by aspirin reaction.

Saline nasal irrigation. This is the process of removing irritants and pollutants of sinus through nasal drainage.

Antibiotics. This is necessary for the bacterial infection if your doctor doesn’t examine the proper cause, he may recommend the antibiotic with other medication.

Amoxycillin is prescribed for acute infection. However, this is the first-line medication for sinus infection. This is effective against many strains of bacteria. Example of other antibiotics that might prescribe by your doctor.

  • Cefaclor
  • Zithromax
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Sulfamethaoxole
  • Clarithromycin

If you don’t find improvement in the symptoms in five days, talk to your doctor for the alternative treatment. 1-14 days of treatment is required for a better response.

Immunotherapy. If allergies such as pollutants and other irritants are participating in your sinusitis, the immunotherapy help to remove dust particles from the nasal passage.

Surgery. For the severe sinusitis, the doctor may perform the endoscopy for the clear out the passage. This is generally preferred when an infection is resistant to other medications. For this procedure, a flexible tube with an attached light is required.

The doctor uses various instruments to remove extra tissue that causes the blockage around the nasal passage. Another way is to enlarge the nasal passage to remove extra pollutants.

Is the Sinus Infection Contagious?

As per the majority of medical experts, this infection does not transmit to one person to another person. It generally starts with a common cold and starts the symptom with pain around the nasal cavities.
Further symptoms include
Yellowish pus-like discharge.
A bad breath
Swallowing around eyes.

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Sinus Problem?

You can use a vaporizer to open the air passage and clean out the pollutant.
You can purchase OTC nasal drainage spray and nasal saline.
Take a shower of warm water over the head.
Use a warm towel over the head, thin can help to clean the excess mucous from the nasal cavity.
Drink plenty of warm water to clean the passage.
Avoid smoking and exposure to dust.

How bad is a Sinus Infection?

Severe sinus leads to many complications including meningitis and vision defects. However, it is important to take precautions and treatments on an initial basis. It can block the nasal cavities and cause a troubled breath.

Is Amoxycillin good for Sinus Infection?

Amoxycillin is the first-line treatment of this infection. It is the most effective against many strains of bacteria. However, if you have exposure to bacterial infection, it can be first-line therapy.

What Happens if You let a Sinus Infection go Untreated?

In this case, especially if you have a bacterial infection, it can harm the body. Antibiotics help to treat the bacterial infection of the sinus.

Can I beat a Bacterial Sinus without Antibiotics?

It depends on how strong your immune response against the infection. In acute condition, it has been found most of the symptoms have been disappeared within 7 days without using antibiotics.

What is the Strongest Antibiotic?

Oregano essential oil is the most powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal that is used to treat the sinus.

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