Pediatric Sinusitis

In children, sinusitis most commonly develops from a common cold or viral infection. However, a foreign body such as a peanut, raisin or bead pushed into the nose may cause a nasal or sinus infection as well.

When an infection begins, the lining of the sinuses may become swollen and block the passage where normal sinus mucus drains. When this mucous remains in the sinus too long, it can become infected.

Symptoms of Sinusitis in Children

Many symptoms of pediatric sinusitis match those of the common cold but persist longer. When symptoms have been present for longer than 7-8 days, they could be a sign of a sinus infection.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Yellow or green nasal drainage
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Headache
  • Swelling below and between the eyes

To properly diagnose sinusitis in a child, a Rhinologist or an ENT needs a good description of the problem from a parent. The physician needs to know what symptoms the child shows and how long they have been present. In older children, a nasal endoscopy can reveal the anatomy of the nose and the degree of swelling. It can also detect the presence of nasal polyps or foreign bodies and help the ENT collect infected secretions for analysis. This allows for more precise treatment with antibiotics when necessary. Additional studies such as a CT scan of the sinuses may be necessary for more persistent or severe problems.

Treatment for Pediatric Sinusitis

Antibiotics are the primary medication for treating sinusitis. Other medications include:

  • Decongestants to help open the nose and sinus drainage pathways
  • Mucolytics to thin the mucus and promote normal drainage
  • Steroid nasal sprays to reduce nasal swelling

Even if the infection’s symptoms seem to have gone away, it is important to finish all of the medication. Infections that do not clear up with medications may require a follow-up visit.

If your child continues to have sinus infections despite medical management, your physician will consider obtaining a CT scan to evaluate the sinuses and adenoids. Depending on the CT scan’s findings, your physician may recommend surgery. Your doctor may perform additional tests as well to rule out other possible problems such as allergy, cystic fibrosis, ciliary dyskinesia, and immunodeficiency.