One of the most common sinus drainage questions I receive seems simple: “Is a sinus infection contagious?” Yet, while the question seems simple, the answer is a bit more complex.
Is a Sinus Infection Contagious? – The Short, Simple Answer
Is a sinus infection contagious? The short answer to this question is a resounding “no.” A sinus infection is an ongoing inflammation of the sinuses caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Since swelling and inflammation aren’t contagious, neither is a sinus infection.
Are Sinus Infections Contagious? – The Longer, Better Answer
The real answer is a bit more complex, however. Viruses and and bacteria are often contagious, both through direct contact as well as indirect methods like coughing and sneezing. Viruses are often very contagious. Bacterial infections that cause sinusitis are usually less-so. If somebody you come into contact with has a viral or bacterial infection, she may transfer that virus or bacteria to you.
This mere act of transfer may or may not cause a sinus infection, however. Since each person’s body is different, the mere act of “contracting” a virus may not lead to any infection at all. If you don’t have frequent sinus problems, your body will probably overcome the virus or bacteria without causing any noticeable symptoms whatsoever.
Therefore, if you suffer from frequent sinus issues and somebody in your household or at work gets a sinus infection, it may be best to avoid direct contact. If you’ve never had sinus problems before, it’s unlikely that you’ll also get a sinus infection, particularly if that person’s infection is bacterial rather than viral. I’ve found that when somebody I interact with gets a sinus infection, I often get one, too. But none of my family members have chronic sinus problems, and they don’t ever seem to get sinus infections when I have one. So, is a sinus infection contagious? Apparently, it depends.
As with any other possible infection, the best thing to do is wash your hands frequently and ensure that the infected person does the same.