Is Sinus Infection Contagious?
Everything You Need To Know

Nasal congestion that just won’t go away? You might have a Sinus infection!
Sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is a condition that occurs when the tissues lining the sinuses become inflamed or infected. The sinuses are small, air-filled cavities located in the bones around the nose and eyes, and they help to warm, moisten, and filter the air we breathe.
When the sinuses become inflamed or infected, they can become blocked, causing pressure and pain in the face, forehead, or behind the eyes.
But the primary concern is if Sinus infection contagious. The answer lies here.

What Are Sinuses?

Sinuses are spaces in the nasal cavity which connect by passageways. The mucus produced by the sinuses drips out of the nasal airways and keeps the nostrils free of bacteria, allergens, and other germs.

Demographics Of Sinus Infection

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention survey of 2018 shows 28.9 million adults get infected with sinusitis. People, on average, spend approximately $1 billion yearly on over-the-counter medicines to treat sinusitis. People who have underlying diseases are at the most risk of contracting sinusitis.

Is Sinus Infection Contagious? Types Of Sinusitis

Types of sinusitis are described based on the longevity of the condition and its causes.

Is Sinus Infection Contagious? Bacterial VS Viral Sinusitis

doctor holding patient's hand dealing with sinus infection contagious

Most cases of sinusitis are viruses, similar to those that cause the common cold. Bacteria may infiltrate you after contracting a viral sinus infection or cause sinusitis themselves. You may have bacterial sinusitis if your runny nose, stuffy nose, facial discomfort, or sinus infection ear pain persist for longer than ten days. Your symptoms might appear to get better, but they later come back worse than before. For bacterial sinusitis, decongestants and antibiotics typically work well.
A bacterial sinus infection isn’t contagious though a viral sinus infection is contagious.

Fungal Sinusitis

Fungal-induced sinusitis is a life-threatening and complicated infection. Usually, it affects people with weaker immunity. Fungal-induced sinus infection isn’t contagious.

Sinus Infection VS Allergies

Your sinuses swell when you get allergies or sinusitis, but for different causes.
If you have allergies, your sinuses and nasal passageways will swell as they attempt to flush out “allergens.” Allergens is a term referring to anything that can cause an allergic reaction. 

Allergies or a cold are the most common causes of sinusitis to occur. Bacteria can occasionally, but not frequently, be the source of this illness. Your nostrils and sinuses swell up when you have allergies or a cold. The swelling prevents mucus from clearing out, which causes infection. Sinus issues are more likely to occur if you have allergies because your sinuses become swollen due to allergens.

How To Differentiate Sinusitis, Cold, and COVID-19 ?

Allergies, COVID-19, colds, and sinus infection share many of the same symptoms. Sinus infection is contagious similar to the other two conditions. Thus, it becomes challenging to distinguish between them.
The typical cold progresses, swells, and then gradually subsides, lasting from a few days to a week. Sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, congestion, and postnasal drips are symptoms of nasal allergies. (mucus in your throat). They typically don’t result in the same amount of facial pain as sinus infections.

Fever and shortness of breath are additional signs that COVID-19 can produce.
One of the differentiating factors among these is a clogged ear sinus infection. The ear gets clogged due to the clogged sinuses and causes muffled sensations.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sinus Infection

Is Sinus Infection Contagious? Causes

A bacteria, virus, or just common cold leads to sinusitis. Where viral Sinus Infection is contagious, some allergens and irritants trigger recurrent acute sinusitis. More specific triggers include:

Is Sinus Infection Contagious Or Cause Dizziness?

woman wearing scarf holding nose with the sinus infection contagious pain

Yes. Dizziness is one potential adverse effect of sinus infections. A sinus infection can affect your perception of equilibrium and balance. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand that your ear canals and nasal airways are connected. Hence, problems with the nose may also impact the ears and vice versa.

The fluid build-up in the sinuses blocks the passage for this fluid to drain. This fluid then collects in the ear canal and Eustachian tubes leading to dizziness.

How Is Sinus Infection Contagious?

A bacterial Sinus Infection isn’t contagious. However, a viral sinus infection is contagious and can affect a healthy person through airborne droplets. It is, therefore, advised to frequently wash your hands and sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow.

What Happens If Sinus Infection Is Left Untreated?

Sinus infection does not always require treatment. Doctors treat the illness symptomatically. However, fungal-induced sinusitis requires immediate treatment because it may infect the brain.

Diagnosis Of Sinusitis

A physician may inspect your nose for blockages. To examine swelling and blockages, he might use an endoscope to give a thorough examination. He may also refer you to an ENT specialist. Your doctor may perform the following procedures to identify a sinus infection:

Nasal Endoscopy:

An endoscope is a small device that goes into the nose for imaging purposes.
Nose Wipes
Your physician might take a fluid sample from your nostril using a soft-tipped stick. They’ll examine it for viruses or other microorganisms that could be the source of your symptoms.

CT Scan:

In certain circumstances, physicians advise a CT scan to examine the sinuses thoroughly.

Allergy Screening:

The physician advises an allergy screening test to rule out the possibility of an allergic reaction.


Rarely, a doctor might remove a tissue sample from your nose for analysis.

Risk Factors For Sinus Infection

Sinusitis is more prone to affect some people than others. Risk factors include:
Septum is a tissue lining that divides the nostrils. The passage on one side of your nostril constricts by a deviated septum, which is not straight, resulting in obstruction.

Saline Washes:

Best Sinus Medicine


Antibiotics are preferred to treat Bacterial sinusitis. Typically, antibiotics are considered the best sinus medicine for bacterial sinusitis. A doctor may prescribe the regimen for 14-28 days, based on the type of bacteria. Long-term treatment is required in patients with more severe or persistent cases because the sinuses are embedded deep in the bones, and their blood flow is constrained.

Decongesting Nasal Sprays:

Nasal decongestants are only effective for 3-4 days. They constrict the nasal passages and allow the blocked fluids to drain through them. Prolonged use of nasal decongestants can cause a rebound effect where nasal passages swell shut.

Steroids For Sinus Infection:

A physician prescribes oral steroids, like prednisolone, for 5-7 days. Steroids help in reducing nasal inflammation. The doctor may prescribe oral steroids post-operatively.

Saline Washes:

Saline washes containing different sodium chloride percentages tend to clear up nasal passages.


A deviated septum may require surgery. Surgeries also become an option when the medication stops working. The surgeon may remove nasal polyps through the procedure.

Ways To Prevent Sinus Infections

A viral sinus infection is contagious and contracted from the environment. There are a few methods to lessen your risk of getting sinus infections depending on the cause, such as:

Is Sinus Infection Contagious? Bottom-Line

In conclusion, sinusitis is a prevailing infection and affects older people more than children. Sinusitis can be bacterial or viral. However, a sinus infection is contagious when caused by viruses and spreads if the infected person sneezes or coughs. Some preventive measures help reduce the risk of getting sinus infections, like wearing masks, maintaining proper hand hygiene, etc. Sinus infections, however, do not require treatment every time. Although if your doctor may diagnose a bacterial infection, he will prescribe some antibiotics.