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Sinus infections can be a pain in the nose! But, one thing you might be wondering about is how long are sinus infections contagious. It all depends on the type of infection you have and whether or not you have symptoms.

Viral sinus infections are contagious for about 3-7 days, while bacterial sinus infections are generally not contagious. 

Contagiousness of Sinus Infections Depends on the Cause

When it comes to sinus infections, not all of them are created equal. The contagiousness of a sinus infection depends on what’s causing it. Here are the basics about sinus infections and how to know if you have a bacterial or viral sinus infection.

Bacterial Sinusitis

How long is a bacterial sinus infection contagious? Bacterial sinus infections are usually not contagious. Bacteria, unlike viruses, are not easily spread from person to person.

Bacterial sinusitis is caused by bacteria. These infections can develop as a result of a cold or allergies that cause inflammation in your nasal passages. Bacteria then take advantage of this inflammation and cause an infection. Bacterial sinus infections can last anywhere from a week to several weeks. 

The main symptoms of a bacterial sinus infection include facial pain and pressure, thick yellow or green nasal discharge, nasal congestion, and sometimes fever. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat bacterial sinus infections.

Viral Sinusitis

Viral sinus infections, as the name suggests, are caused by viruses. Similar to bacterial infections, they can also develop as a result of viral colds or allergies. However, viral sinusitis tends to resolve on its own within a week or two.

The symptoms of a viral sinus infection are generally the same as a bacterial one – facial pressure and pain, nasal congestion, and nasal discharge. However, the nasal discharge is usually clear or white. Since viral sinus infections don’t respond to antibiotics, the best way to treat them is by relieving symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers, nasal decongestants, and saline nasal sprays.

How long is a viral sinus infection contagious? Viral sinusitis can be contagious for about 3-7 days. Viruses can spread easily from person to person through coughing or sneezing, and their contagiousness is at its peak when the symptoms are evident. So, if you have a viral sinus infection, take precautions to prevent spreading it to others.

How Do Sinus Infections Spread?

Sinus infections can spread in different ways. When someone with a sinus infection coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets called respiratory particles are released into the air. These droplets can contain the virus or bacteria that causes the infection.

Respiratory Particles

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If you’re close to someone who coughs or sneezes, you might breathe in those respiratory particles and get infected too. That’s why it’s important to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or your elbow. This helps to trap the droplets and prevent them from spreading.

Contaminated Surfaces

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Image Source: Marcus Aurelius // How Long Are Sinus Infections Contagious? 

Another way sinus infections can spread is through touching contaminated surfaces. If someone with a sinus infection touches their nose or face and then touches something like a doorknob or a toy, the virus or bacteria can be left behind. Then, when you touch that same object and then touch your own nose or face, you can get infected.

It’s worth mentioning that while sinus infections are contagious, they are not as easily transmitted as some other respiratory infections, like the common cold. Nonetheless, taking these preventative measures can help reduce the risk of spreading or catching chronic or acute sinusitis.

How Long Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

Both acute and chronic sinusitis can be a real nuisance, causing symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, facial pain or pressure, and even a sore throat. If your sinusitis is caused by a virus, you are typically contagious for about three to seven days.

During this time, you can spread the virus to others through coughing, sneezing, or even just talking. So stay away from others as much as possible and practice good hygiene, like covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

But here’s the thing – it can be difficult to tell if your sinus infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. With severe symptoms, a bacterial infection may develop as a complication of a viral infection.

Bacterial sinus infections can be more serious and may require medical treatment. The contagious period for a bacterial infection may be longer than just a few days, as the bacteria can linger in your nasal passages for a longer time. 

In cases like this, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider to help you identify the type of sinus infection you have.

Are You Still Contagious While Treating a Sinus Infection?

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While treating your sinus infection, it’s still possible to be contagious. So, until you start feeling better and your symptoms go away, it’s best to avoid close contact with others.

To help relieve your symptoms and speed up your recovery, there are some supportive treatments you can try.

Nasal decongestants, like those you can find at the pharmacy, warm compresses, steam inhalations, and using neti pots for nasal irrigation can help clear your stuffy nose and make breathing easier. Pain relievers can also be helpful if you’re feeling any facial pain or pressure.

Also, wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid close contact with others until you’re feeling better.

How long is a sinus infection contagious after starting antibiotics?

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If you have a sinus infection and your healthcare professional prescribes prescription antibiotics, you may be wondering how long you will remain contagious. While antibiotics can help treat bacterial sinus infections, they do not immediately make the infection non-contagious. Continue taking the antibiotics as prescribed, even if your symptoms start to improve.

The duration of contagiousness for sinus infections after starting antibiotics can vary. It generally takes a few days for the antibiotics to start working and for you to begin feeling better.

However, during this time, you may still be contagious and able to spread the infection to others. Take precautions to avoid close contact with others, especially if they have a weakened immune system or are vulnerable to infections.

Should you quarantine with a sinus infection?

Sinus infections can be contagious, especially if they are caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria can spread from person to person through the air when you cough or sneeze. 

Some people are at higher risk of getting infections, like sinus infections, from others. This includes people with weakened immune systems or those who are vulnerable to infections. If you have close contact with someone who falls into these higher-risk categories, limit your contact with them while you have sinus symptoms.

While quarantining may not always be necessary with common symptoms of sinus infections, you still have to take preventive measures to limit the spread of the infection, especially around higher-risk populations.

Staying home when you’re sick, practicing good hygiene, taking a hot shower, and following the advice of medical providers are all important steps to help protect yourself and others from contagious sinus infections.

How to Keep Yourself and Others from Getting a Sinus Infection

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Image Source: Polina Tankilevitch // How Long Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

If you don’t want to get a sinus infection or spread it to others, there are some easy things you can do.

– Wash your hands regularly. Frequent handwashing is a big step in preventing them. Use soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. This will help get rid of any germs on your hands that could make you sick.

– Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Sinus infections are contagious, so if you touch your nose or eyes with dirty hands, you could let those germs inside your body. It’s a good idea to avoid touching your face altogether if you can. And definitely don’t share food or drinks with other people. You don’t want to pass along those germs!

– Avoid smoking. Cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke can irritate your sinuses and make you more susceptible to infections. So if you’re a smoker, it’s a good idea to quit. Not only will it help your sinuses, but it will also improve your overall health.

– Eat healthy foods that boost your immune system. This includes fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.

– Stay up to date on your vaccinations and minimize your contact with people who are sick. If you do need to be around sick people, keep your distance as much as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you stay away from others if you have a contagious sinus infection?

It’s best to be on the side of caution and avoid close contact with others until you have been symptom-free for at least 24 to 48 hours, especially if you have a viral sinus infection. This ensures that you are no longer spreading the infection to others. Along with this, practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, to minimize the risk of spreading the infection.

Are sinus infections contagious through kissing?

Sinus infections can be contagious through kissing. Acute sinusitis is often caused by viruses, and these tiny viruses can be transmitted from one person to another through close contact like kissing. When you kiss someone who has sinus pressure, you come into contact with their respiratory droplets, which can contain the virus causing the infection. These droplets can find their way into your sinus passages, leading to an infection.

Are sinus infections from allergies contagious?

Sinus infections caused by allergies, also known as allergy-induced sinusitis, are not contagious. Unlike sinus symptoms caused by viruses, which can be passed on from one person to another, allergic sinusitis is not spread through close contact or respiratory droplets.

When you have allergy symptoms, your immune system overreacts to certain substances called allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. These allergens can trigger an immune system response in your body, which can lead to inflammation and swelling in your sinuses, causing sinusitis.


We hope that we were able to answer your question, ‘How long are sinus infections contagious?’ As you exercise caution during your contagious days along with natural home remedies, you get to relieve sinus infection symptoms naturally. Pair this with an online naturopathic practitioner for medical care, and you’ll be on your way to a cleaner sinusitis treatment!

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