According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, approximately 31 million Americans experience a sinus infection each year. With such a large number, it may surprise you to learn that the infection itself is not contagious, but the underlying cause may be.
What Is a Sinus Infection?
Your sinuses are hollow passages in your skull behind your cheeks, behind your forehead and between the eyes. The lining of these cavities can swell, making it hard for mucus to properly drain. The stagnant mucus can pool and become infected.
Allergies, asthma or structural damage can cause the sinuses to narrow and increase your risk of developing a sinus infection.
The most common cause of a sinus infection is a cold. Caused by a virus, usually the rhinovirus, a cold can lead to a runny nose and nasal congestion. These symptoms can prevent your sinuses from draining properly, leading to an infection.
In rare cases, a sinus infection can be caused by bacteria. Unlike a virus, a bacterial infection is not contagious.
Sinus infections will usually last for seven to 10 days, and if caused by a virus, you may be contagious for up to two weeks.
Symptoms of a Sinus Infection
Sinus infection symptoms include:
- Nasal drainage
- Cheek and jaw soreness
- Under eye pressure
- Loss of smell
- Bad breath
How Sinus Infections Are Treated
In order to diagnose a sinus infection, your doctor will review your list of symptoms and complete a physical exam.
Sinus infections caused by a virus will usually resolve on their own. Over-the-counter medications can be used to treat the symptoms to make you more comfortable.
- Anti-inflammatory pain relivers help manage your headache and fever
- Nasal sprays help keep your nasal passage moist and decrease congestion and inflammation
- Mucolytics clear a buildup of music and reduce congestion
- Antihistamines block inflammation caused by an allergic reaction
Antibiotics are needed if your sinus infection is caused by bacteria. A course of treatment will usually last 10 days.
How to Prevent Developing a Sinus Infection
Practicing good hand washing hygiene and staying away from those who are sick is the best way to reduce your risk of contracting a virus that can cause a sinus infection.
To learn more about treating your sinus infection or to schedule an appointment with a sinus expert, contact Waco Earn, Nose & Throat today.