Pediatric Sinusitis

Children’s sinuses are not fully developed until age 20. Although small, the maxillary (behind the cheek) and ethmoid (between the eyes) sinuses are present at birth. Unlike adults, pediatric sinusitis is difficult to diagnose because symptoms can be subtle and the causes more complex.

The following may indicate a sinus infection in your child:

  • A “cold” lasting more that 10-14 days, sometimes with a low grade (101 degrees or lower)
  • Thick yellow to green nasal drainage
  • Post nasal drip. This could lead to complaints of sore throat, cough, and bad breath
  • Headache, usually seen in children ages 6 and older
  • Irritability or fatigue
  • Swelling around the eyes

Young children have immature immune symptoms and are more prone to infections of the nose, sinuses, and ears during the first years of life. These are frequently caused by a viral infection or cold and may be triggered by allergies. However, if your child remains ill beyond the usual week to ten days, a sinus infection is likely.

You can reduce the risk of sinus infections for your child by reducing exposure to known allergens such as cigarette smoke and reducing his or her time at daycare.

There are two distinct types of sinusitis. Acute sinusitis is when symptoms improve within the first few days. Nasal decongestants or topical nose sprays may be prescribed for short term relief of stuffiness. Your child may also be prescribed antibiotics. Even if you child’s symptoms improve drastically within the first week of treatment, it is important that you continue antibiotics until they are completed. Our physicians may also decide to treat your child with additional medications if he/she ahs allergies or other conditions that may be causing the sinus infection to worsen.

Chronis sinusitis is when your child suffers from one or more symptoms of sinusitis for at least 12 weeks or has more than four to six episodes of sinusitis per year. The ENT may then recommend medical or surgical treatment of the sinuses.

When your child sees one of our physicians, the doctor will examine his/her ears, nose, and throat. A thorough history will be taken. Special instruments known as “scopes” will be used to look into the nose during the office visit. This is a long, rigid piece of equipment that has telescopes which allows the physician to better visualize the nasal and sinus passages. An x-ray, known as a CT scan may help to determine how your child’s sinuses are formed, where the blockage has occurred, and the reliability of a sinusitis diagnosis.

Children with severe or persistent sinusitis may require surgery to relieve symptoms that do not respond to medical therapy. Using an instrument called an endoscope, the ENT surgeon opens the natural drainage pathways of your child’s sinuses and makes the narrow passages wider. This can be accomplished by removing diseased tissue or by using an instrument known as a balloon. Opening up the sinuses and allowing air to better circulate usually results in a reduction in the number and severity of sinus infections. Our physicians may also recommend a procedure called an antral lavage. This allows our physician to gently wash the sinuses passages out, thus ridding the pt of infected mucus.

If you would like to further discuss these procedures or your child’s symptoms, please contact our office for an appointment at 601-709-7700.