Sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is a common childhood problem that causes the lining of a child's sinuses to become at least partially filled with mucus and/or pus, causing the sinus to become blocked and sinus linings to become red, tender and swollen. Sinus infections in children are a result of a cold virus, but the infection is caused from bacteria in the sinuses as a result of the cold virus symptoms. Sinus infections in children are not contagious, but the cold viruses that cause the infection can be extremely contagious.
According to Dr. Alan Greene, signs and symptoms of sinus infections in children are similar to that of a prolonged cold that has lasted from 10 to 14 days. Sinus Infection symptoms in children may include: clear or colored mucus discharge, a cough that persists during the day but worsens during nap time and at night, a sore throat due to post-nasal drip from the infection, bad breath and or fever. Dr. Greene also states that about half of all children who are suffering from a sinus infection will also have an ear infection.
You can make your child more comfortable while experiencing a sinus infection by creating a steam room in your bathroom. Turn the hot water on in your shower, shut the door and sit in the bathroom with your child and allow her to breath the steam vapors for at least 15 minutes to loosen congestion. Increasing humidity levels within your home will also help your child's sinus infection symptoms. Place a vaporizer or humidifier in your child's room to increase humidity levels and retain moisture in your child's sinuses while they are sleeping. Add a few drops of essential oils such as eucalyptus, rosemary or peppermint to the vaporizer water to create soothing vapors.
Sinus infections in children can last a week or a few months if not treated. Your pediatrician is likely to prescribe a round of antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection causing the sinus infections. Your child may also be prescribed nose drops to thin mucus and speed healing. Decongestants may also be recommended but do not promote healing. According to Dr. Greene, antihistamines are not an effective treatment for sinus infections in children because they will thicken mucus and can slow healing.
Preventing sinus infections is possible by teaching your child to wash his hands regularly. Because cold viruses progress into sinus infections, preventing a cold is the first strategy against developing a sinus infection. Changing your child's swimming habits may also prevent sinus infections. Older children should hold their nose or wear a nose plug before jumping, diving and/or swimming underwater. Immunizations can also play a key role in preventing sinus infections in children. Be sure your child has up-to-date immunizations.
Occasionally children will develop acute bacterial sinusitis that develops in less than 10 days and produces colored nasal discharge, high fever, headaches and facial tenderness. Chronic or recurrent sinus infections are often not as severe as a general sinus infection but cause ongoing nasal discharge and coughing in children.