Children’s sinuses aren’t fully developed until they are teenagers, making them more prone to sinus infections than adults. These may be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms of sinusitis are identical to those found in other conditions such as colds and allergies.

Differentiating Sinusitis from other Conditions

Sinusitis occurs when the tissues lining the sinuses become swollen and inflamed, interfering with the drainage of mucus. It is usually caused by a cold or allergies, but can also occur as the result of structural abnormalities like nasal polyps or a deviated septum, injuries to the face, or immune system disorders.

Symptoms of sinusitis in children mimic those of the common cold and include irritability, runny nose, congestion, sore throat, cough, postnasal drip, facial pressure and swelling, headache, fever, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, and a thick yellow-green nasal discharge. When sinusitis is the culprit, symptoms usually persist longer than a week to ten days, the typical duration of a cold.

Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke, suffer from allergies, attend daycare or preschool, and experience acid reflux are more prone to developing sinusitis.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your child’s doctor or an ENT specialist will examine the ears, nose, and throat, and may order a CT scan to look for physical obstructions of the sinuses, to confirm a diagnoses of sinusitis.

Treatment depends on whether the condition is acute (short-term) or chronic (lasting 12 weeks or longer). Acute cases can be treated with antibiotics and nasal decongestant or saline sprays or drops. Symptoms should improve after a few days of treatment, but the full course of antibiotics (if prescribed) must be taken in order to prevent the sinus infection from returning. Chronic sinusitis is more serious, and requires a long-term medical or surgical solution. An appointment with an otolaryngologist should be made in order to determine the best option for treatment.