A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is an inflammation of the sinuses that can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The sinuses are air-filled cavities located in the skull that help to moisten, warm, and filter the air that we breathe. When the sinuses become blocked or infected, it can lead to a build-up of mucus and pressure, causing symptoms such as nasal congestion, headache, and facial pain. Sinus infections are common in children, especially during the winter months when colds and flu are more prevalent.
The symptoms of a sinus infection in children can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the age of the child. Common symptoms include nasal congestion, sinus pressure or pain, headache, fever, cough, and fatigue. Children may also experience a loss of smell or taste, yellow or green nasal discharge, and bad breath. In some cases, the infection can spread to the eyes, causing redness, swelling, and pain. Children with a sinus infection may also be more prone to ear infections, as the Eustachian tubes that connect the sinuses to the middle ear can become blocked.
Sinus infections in children can be caused by a variety of factors, including a viral infection, such as the common cold or flu, or a bacterial infection. Allergies, environmental irritants, and structural abnormalities in the sinuses, such as a deviated septum, can also contribute to sinus infections. Children with a weakened immune system, such as those with asthma or cystic fibrosis, may be more prone to sinus infections.
The treatment of a sinus infection in children will depend on the severity of the infection and the underlying cause. Mild sinus infections may resolve on their own within a week or two, and can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and decongestants to relieve symptoms. More severe infections may require antibiotic treatment to clear the infection. In some cases, nasal irrigation or the use of a humidifier may also be helpful in relieving congestion and improving breathing. If the infection is caused by structural abnormalities or allergies, surgery or allergy treatment may be necessary.
There are several steps that parents can take to help prevent sinus infections in children. These include:
- Encouraging good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water
- Reducing exposure to environmental irritants, such as smoke and pollution
- Keeping the home well-ventilated and humidified to help reduce the risk of respiratory infections
- Treating allergies promptly to reduce inflammation and congestion in the sinuses
- Getting vaccinated against the flu and other respiratory infections
- Gwaltney, J. M. (2015). Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis: progress and prospects. Journal of medical microbiology, 64(Pt 6), 509-514.
- Kaur, J., & Demehri, S. (2017). Chronic rhinosinusitis: diagnosis and medical management. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, 31(2), 101-108.
- Hadley, J. A. (Ed.). (2015). Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. Vol. 3 (pp. 1520-1522). Elsevier.
- Lanza, D. C., & Kennedy, D. W. (2017). Chronic rhinosinusitis: pathophysiology and current medical management. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, 31(2), 93-100.
- Scadding, G. K. (Ed.). (2016). Rhinology and skull base surgery. CRC Press.