Are Sinus Infections Contagious?
Sinus infection affects millions of people worldwide. Find out if it is
Causes of sinus infection
Sinus infection can occur after we have suffered a bout of the common cold, viral influenza and
hay fever. This is because nasal congestion is the main reason why sinus infection happens.
Nasal congestion results when the mucous membranes lining the nose become swollen from blood
When we breathe, air which contains irritants, pollutants and pathogens, must first enter our
nose. Being one of the most sensitive organs, it will trigger our body's natural immune response when it finds
allergens entering our body by releasing a chemical called histamine.
Histamine causes the mucosal lining to become inflamed and starts to swell. The swelling
stimulates the nasal membranes to produce excessive amounts of mucus. When too much mucus is produced, problems to
the drainage of the mucus produced in the paranasal sinuses results.
The surface of nasal membranes is densely populated with microscopic hair-like cilia. The cilia
act like oars to drain the mucus produced naturally by the body. Some viruses can paralyze and even destroy cilia.
When cilia function is impaired, the excess mucus remains trapped in the sinuses leading to sinus infection
symptoms such as sinus pain and headaches.
What is a sinus infection?
A sinus infection refers to the condition whereby the nasal passages and sinuses are constantly
inflamed. This results in the production of thick, glue-like mucus which remains clogged up in the paranasal
sinuses resulting in uncomfortable, painful and debilitating symptoms.
Are sinus infections contagious?
From the definition of sinus infection, we can see that it is not really an illness which can
spread from one person to another. It is the name given to a condition whereby inflammation of the paranasal
sinuses do not heal after a certain time period.
However, we must also bear in mind that the clogged up sinuses can provide an ideal environment
for bacteria to breed.
If these bacteria are allowed to multiply in numbers, a bacterial infection results.
When this happens, the sinus infection then becomes known as a bacterial sinus infection which
may require the prescription of antibiotics to treat it.
Many people today suffer from on and off sinus infection. These are people who are constantly
having nasal congestion caused by enlarged inferior turbinates. They are classified as chronic sinus infection
More information on treatment options for people with enlarged turbinates can be found at
"Sinus Infection and Nasal Congestion".