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Pediatric Sinusitis: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatments

Mother Consoling Her Daughter

Sinusitis is a medical condition involving the sinuses that drain into the nose. But in children, the sinuses that are most affected are the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses. This is because the sphenoid and frontal sinuses are still developing during childhood.

Pediatric sinusitis can be very uncomfortable and painful for a child; however, it can often be managed and treated with over-the-counter medications.

Here is what parents should know about pediatric sinusitis and how to identify and treat this condition in a child.

Who is Affected by Pediatric Sinusitis?

Children who have recently suffered from a viral infection or the common cold are most susceptible to sinusitis. A nasal infection caused by a foreign object accidentally inserted into the nose can cause sinusitis as well.

Very young children are most susceptible to infections of the sinuses and ears. Common sicknesses in young children may be further aggravated by allergies. To prevent the risk of sinusitis, it may help to limit a child’s exposure to household and environmental pollutants.

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However, some children experience frequent and recurrent sinusitis, which can be painful and frustrating for children and their families. Chronic sinusitis is defined as having symptoms for at least 12 weeks or for at least four to six months per year.

Symptoms of Pediatric Sinusitis

Mucous needs a clear pathway to drain out, but when this pathway becomes infected, the passage becomes blocked and the sinuses swell. Initially, it can be difficult to know whether a child has sinusitis or just a common cold since many of the symptoms are similar. Typical symptoms of pediatric sinusitis are green or yellow mucous, headache, fever, couch, congestion, and facial swelling.

Parents are advised to consult a doctor if symptoms of a common cold do not subside within seven to 10 days. This may indicate that a sinus infection is present. Some cases of pediatric sinusitis are fairly obvious to experienced physicians and can be diagnosed with a simple description of the symptoms. However, other children may need a CT scan of the sinuses to diagnose the condition.

Children with frequent and recurrent sinusitis may be prescribed antibiotic therapy. In very rare and severe cases, surgical approaches like an adenoidectomy, balloon sinuplasty, or endoscopic sinus surgery may be considered.

Treatments for Pediatric Sinusitis

There are a few different ways that doctors treat pediatric sinusitis in children. For example, decongestants are often recommended to decrease the amount of mucous in the sinuses. Nasal swelling can sometimes be remedied by using nasal sprays. And mucolytic medications can help thin out the existing mucous in the sinuses so that it flows out properly. Gentle pain medication may be recommended for sinus headaches in children.

Consult a pediatrician for treatment recommendations before giving adult-strength decongestants or headache medications like Vanquish to children under 12. A primary care physician may be able to diagnose pediatric sinusitis and recommend proper treatment. However, an ENT specialist may be required in cases where sinusitis is more severe, recurrent, or prolonged. Once diagnosed, physicians can investigate the underlying causes of the pediatric sinusitis and determine whether another immune system disorder, structural changes, or allergies, are causing the infections.

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