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Kids Are Affected By Sinusitis

Sinusitis, one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S., affects a large population of children each year. The problem is that many cases of sinusitis in children may be mistaken for a common cold. It is important to recognize sinusitis as a disease that can not only affect adults but also children and pay attention to your child’s symptoms when they have what might normally mistaken for a cold.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), sinuses in children are, on average, not fully developed until they are 20 years old. When a child is born the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses, although small, are already present, but the frontal sinuses are not. The sinuses grow when as the child ages and compete development as a person enters adulthood.

Because sinusitis and cold symptoms can be similar, it is important to fully understand both so that you can recognize a possible sinus infection when it occurs in your child. Symptoms of sinusitis for children are often less specific than those in adults. Adults often experience symptoms that include unusual discharge from the nose, swelling or dull pain and tenderness around the cheek and eye area, and pressure or pain in the head, but a child may just have a stuffy nose, runny nose, and low fever.

The most important thing to pay attention to when it comes to your child’s symptoms is the duration of symptoms. If a child has symptoms that seem like a cold for more than 10 days, they most likely have acute sinusitis. If a child has symptoms that occur for more than a few months the common diagnosis may be chronic sinusitis.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases offers the following information on sinusitis symptoms:

“Most people with sinusitis, however, have pain or tenderness in several locations, and their symptoms usually do not clearly indicate which sinuses are inflamed.

Other symptoms of sinusitis can include
> Fever
> Weakness
> Tiredness
> A cough that may be more severe at night
> Runny nose (rhinitis) or nasal congestion

In addition, the drainage of mucus from the sphenoids or other sinuses down the back of your throat (postnasal drip) can cause you to have a sore throat. Mucus drainage also can irritate the membranes lining your larynx (upper windpipe).”

The symptoms, while usually identifiable by adults, may not be as easy to identify in young children. Also, children may not be able to affectively articulate their symptoms and may just say they have a “stuffy nose” or that their “head hurts”.

The most common treatment for both acute and chronic sinusitis is antibiotics, often accompanied by nasal rinsing. Nebulized antibiotics may also be available to treat your child’s sinus infection. If allergies are triggering in the inflammation, antihistamines or other allergy medications may also be used.

Because a child’s sinuses are not fully developed, sinus surgery is usually not necessary as a sinusitis treatment for young children. It is only used in rare cases where other medications fail.

If your child seems to have a cold that is lasting a while, remember to pay close attention to his or her symptoms and think about taking your child to the doctor for a more accurate diagnosis. Ask their pediatrician to check for a sinus infection because early diagnosis can help relive painful sinusitis symptoms and fight off a sinus infection more quickly.


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