How Common are Contagious Sinus Infections?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Contagious sinus infections do not actually exist, although the virus or bacterial infection which caused it in the first place can often be spread. The most common causes of sinus infection, or sinusitis, are the common cold and allergies. While the cold virus itself is contagious, the sinus infection is considered a separate condition which results from chronic irritation of the nasal passages, and it cannot be spread to others.

Sinus infections generally occur when drainage from the nasal passages due to a cold or allergies causes inflammation of the sinuses. Most infections clear up on their own within a few days, although those caused by allergies may become long-term and require allergy treatments. If caused by a virus, nasal discharge or drainage may spread the viral infection to others, however those who catch it will not necessarily get a sinus infection. Only the cold itself is considered contagious, although sinus-related symptoms may be present. The infection comes as the result of the virus, but is not the same entity.

Since there are no contagious sinus infections, those with symptoms can be around others without worry of spreading it. It should be kept in mind, though, that underlying illnesses can be spread to others, so contact should still be limited until all other symptoms of illness have subsided. This is especially true with regards to the elderly or young infants whose immune systems may be compromised.


Many people believe that there are contagious sinus infections because they are so common. Thousands of individuals are treated for sinusitis every year, most which are due to seasonal allergies. To avoid developing an infection, it is important to practice proper hygiene to avoid getting a cold or flu virus, and to take medications to treat allergy symptoms. Avoiding allergens and environmental irritants for the sinuses is another good tactic, although it is often not possible to avoid all allergens at all times.

Some individuals are especially prone to sinusitis due to structural issues in the nasal cavity. This can lead them to believe that they frequently contract contagious sinus infections, especially if they occur after illnesses which are communicable, such as viruses or bacterial infections. Surgery can sometimes be done to correct these issues, and infections may become less frequent with time.


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Post 2

Drentel - That's correct, sinus infections are not contagious, but who's to say your friend didn't catch the cold virus from you or some other virus? He might read the article and still not let you off the hook.

Seriously, many people do think sinus infections are contagious because the symptoms sometimes resemble the symptoms of the common cold, and sinus infections often stem from a cold. The two can be so closely relate that it gets confusing. Sinus mucus, blocked sinus passages and general congestion can accompany colds and sinus infections.

Post 1

Finally the answer I was looking for. My friend and I have had this discussion about whether you can catch someone else's sinus infection so many times. It started when I had a sinus infection one time and a week or so later he had one.

He said that was the first one he ever had and he was convinced he got it from me. He has continued to have sinus problems since so whenever something flares up I get the blame. He needs to read this article.

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