It’s not news that sinus infections are no fun. If your child is suffering from one, he or she may be experiencing congestion, drainage down the throat, swelling around the eyes, ear pain, a sore throat, nausea, fatigue, aching in the upper jaw and teeth and more. If your child has suffered from inflamed and swollen sinuses for at least 12 weeks, despite treatment, he or she has chronic sinusitis.
But what do chronic sinus infections mean?
- Nasal Polyps: Tissues that grow inside the nasal passage can block the sinuses from working correctly, causing an infection.
- Deviated septum: If the wall between your child’s nostrils is crooked, it could block the sinus passages and create chronic sinusitis.
- Allergies: Colds and other infections in your child’s respiratory tract can inflame and thicken the sinus membranes, blocking the drainage of mucus.
- Respiratory Tract Infections: If your child has an infection in his or her respiratory tract, it can thicken the sinus membranes and block mucus drainage.
- Other medical conditions: Any immune system-related diseases can cause chronic sinusitis for your child.
Is My Child At Risk Of Chronic Sinusitis?
Although anyone can develop chronic sinusitis, some people are more susceptible to it. If your child has ant of the following, he or she is at a heightened risk of getting chronic or recurrent sinusitis:
- A sensitivity to aspirin
- An immune system disorder
- Regular exposure to pollutants
- An abnormality of the nasal passages
- Hay fever or another allergic condition
Diagnosing Chronic Sinusitis
To diagnose your child’s sinus problems, a doctor will feel his or her nose and face, then likely look inside their nose. A nasal endoscopy—a thin tube inserted through the nose to see inside the sinuses—is sometimes needed. Other ways to diagnose include CT or MRI scans, nasal cultures and allergy tests.
Do You Need To See A Doctor For Chronic Sinusitis?
It is possible to experience several acute sinusitis flare-ups, typically lasting less than a month, before developing full-on chronic sinusitis. While sinus infections will normally heal on their own, there are situations where you may want to take your child to see a doctor.
- If your child has suffered from a sinus infection multiple times without responding to medication or treatment
- If your child’s sinusitis symptoms last more than a full week (seven days)
- If your child’s symptoms do not improve after seeking medical care
It is also possible for your child’s sinusitis to turn into a serious infection. If this happens, you need to seek medical care immediately. Signs of a serious infection include:
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- Swelling or redness surrounding the eyes
- Double vision or other changes to the vision of your child
- Severe headache
Treating Chronic Sinusitis
Any doctor will likely treat your child’s chronic sinus issues in the same way: saline nasal irrigation or antibiotics. The nasal spray will help reduce drainage and rinse out irritants, while an antibiotic can help with any bacteria. Other treatments include nasal corticosteroids and oral corticosteroids. In very rare cases, endoscopic sinus surgery may be needed to fully treat the chronic sinusitis.
Can You Prevent Chronic Sinusitis?
While it can be difficult to completely prevent chronic sinusitis, there are a number of ways you can reduce your child’s risk of getting it.
- Work with your child’s doctor to manage his or her allergies to keep symptoms under control.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke and polluted air when possible. These air contaminants can cause irritation to your child’s lungs and nasal passages, making them inflamed.
- Encourage your child to wash his or her hands regularly to avoid upper respiratory infections. This includes minimizing contact with other children who may be suffering from a cold.
- Place a humidifier in your child’s room to add moisture to the air. Make sure to clean the humidifier regularly to keep it free of mold.
Are There Complications From Chronic Sinusitis?
Although rare, there are complications that can result from chronic sinusitis. These complications include:
- Meningitis: This severe infection causes the membranes and fluid around the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed.
- Partial or complete loss of smell: Inflammation of the nerve for smell along with nasal obstruction can create a temporary or permanent loss of smell.
- Problems with vision: If infection spreads to your child’s eye socket, it can cause vision problems that include reduced vision or even permanent blindness.
- Other infections: Very rarely, chronic sinusitis can cause infection to spread to the bones or skin.
How To Alleviate Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms At Home
If your child is suffering from chronic sinusitis and is experiencing symptoms that are making him or her miserable, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate pain:
- Make sure your child is getting sufficient rest so his or her body can fight inflammation and recover quickly.
- Apply a warm compress, such as a damp towel, to your child’s face focusing on the nose, cheeks and eyes to ease facial pain.
- Keep your child hydrated with fluids like water or juice to dilute mucus and promote draining. Try to keep your child away from caffeinated beverage as they can be dehydrating.
- Keep your child’s head elevated when he or she sleeps by stacking a few pillows. Doing this will help your child’s sinuses drain and reduce congestion.
- For older children, consider a nasal irrigation product that uses a saline solution. This can typically be purchased at your local drugstore. If you prefer to make your own saline solution at home, simply combine 8 ounces of boiled water with 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt.
- Keep your home dusted as much as possible to keep irritants from bothering your child’s sinuses.
If your child is suffering from chronic sinus infections, Medical City Children’s Urgent Care can help. We have kid-friendly physicians that are board-eligible in pediatric medicine so you can get quick, convenient urgent care for your kid.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.