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Is Sinusitis Contagious?

Sinus infections, also known as sinusitis, are an inflammation of sinus tissue. One of the most common questions regarding this condition is, “is sinusitis contagious?”

In this blog, board-certified Otolaryngologist Dr. David O. Volpi will address this question.

Who Gets Sinusitis?

There are several reasons that someone could contract sinusitis, but in most cases, it follows the common cold. During a cold, the sinuses are blocked by nasal secretions. When the sinuses are unable to drain properly, this leads to swelling and infection.

Exposure to irritants or allergens can also lead to sinusitis, which happens more frequently in people with weakened immune systems, either from illness or medication. Children under the age of two and adults over the age of 65, who are at higher risk of contracting the flu, are also more likely to get a sinus infection.

Is Sinusitis Contagious?

Whether sinusitis is contagious depends greatly on the cause. In some cases, sinusitis can, indeed, spread from person to person, but in most instances, it will not spread. When a sinus infection is caused by bacteria or a virus, these can be passed from person to person, triggering infection.

In the case of bacterial sinusitis, the condition is triggered by a cold or the flu. The blocked sinuses that result become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infection. Both children and adults are commonly affected by bacterial sinusitis. The condition usually lasts more than ten days, and in some cases, it can become severe.

Symptoms of bacterial sinusitis include:

  • High fever
  • Facial pain
  • Thick greenish or yellowish nasal discharge

Viral sinusitis is caused by respiratory infections, such as colds or flu. This is the most contagious form of sinusitis because it is easily transmitted through the air, or by touching unwashed hands, used towels and napkins or other close contact. Simply coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose can cause further infections. For this reason, sinus infections spread quickly in schools, day care centers, health spas and nursing homes.

Persistent sinusitis can become chronic, leading to long-term health problems and seriously impacting the overall quality of life. Fortunately, there are many options for treating and preventing contagious sinusitis.

How Can I Prevent Contagious Sinusitis?

One of the best ways to avoid sinusitis is by practicing good hygiene, especially when it comes to hand washing.

Here are some tips for avoiding contagious sinusitis:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating or after close contact with a person.
  • Avoid situations where you are physically close to an infected person
  • Wear a medical mask in crowded areas
  • Ensure that your vaccinations are current
  • Those with sinusitis should stay home from work or school

Where Can I Find Treatment for My Sinusitis in NYC?

When you’re suffering from sinusitis, it is important to get proper treatment, so that your condition does not worsen and potentially spread to others.

Dr. David O. Volpi is a board certified otolaryngologist with over 25 years of experience. He is well known for his use of the latest, minimally invasive procedures to treat sinusitis. Dr. Volpi is dedicated to providing his patients with the highest standard of medical care, utilizing the most advanced technologies to diagnose and treat those under his care. A wide variety of treatment options are available at his Upper East Side and Upper West Side offices.

Dr. Volpi is on staff at New York City’s finest hospitals, including Lennox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. If you are dealing with sinusitis, schedule your appointment at one of our offices by calling (212) 873-6036 or by contacting us via our secure web form.

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Posted in: ENT doctor, Sinusitis, Uncategorized