Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses near the nose. These infections usually occur after a cold or after an allergic inflammation. There are three types of sinusitis:

  • Acute sinusitis occurs quickly and improves with the appropriate treatment
  • Subacute sinusitis does not improve with treatment initially and lasts less than three months
  • Chronic sinusitis occurs with repeated acute infections or with previous infections that were inadequately treated. The symptoms last longer than three months.

Sometimes, a sinus infection happens after an upper respiratory infection (URI) or a common cold. The URI causes inflammation of the nasal passages that can block the opening of the paranasal sinuses. When the flow of secretions from the sinuses is blocked, bacteria may begin to grow. This leads to a sinus infection, or sinusitis. Allergies can also lead to sinusitis because of the swelling of the nasal tissue and increased production of mucus. Other possible conditions that can block the normal flow of secretions out of the sinuses and can lead to sinusitis are:

  • Abnormalities in the structure of the nose
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Diving and swimming
  • Infections from a tooth
  • Trauma to the nose
  • Foreign objects stuck in the nose
  • Cleft palate

What Are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?

The symptoms of sinusitis depend greatly on the age of the child.

In younger children:

  • A runny nose that lasts longer than seven to 10 days
  • Discharge is usually thick green or yellow, but can be clear
  • Nighttime cough
  • Occasional daytime cough
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Usually no headaches younger than 5 years of age

In older children and adults:

  • A runny nose or cold symptoms lasting longer than seven to 10 days
  • A drip in the throat from the nose
  • Headaches
  • Facial discomfort
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling around the eyes, often worse in the morning

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for sinusitis may include the following:

  • Cultures from the nose or sinus fluid
  • Sinus x-rays to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs
  • Computerized tomography (Also called CT or CAT scan) to produce detailed images to aid in diagnosis
  • Blood tests

How Is Sinusitis Treated?

Specific treatment for sinusitis will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of the infection
  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the infection
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment of sinusitis may include the following:

  • Antibiotics, as determined by your child's physician
  • Acetaminophen (for pain or discomfort)
  • Use of a cool mist humidifier in your child's room
  • Nasal drops

Decongestants and antihistamines may not help the symptoms of sinusitis.

Play video

Make an Appointment

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®).