Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses around the nose and forehead.
Sinusitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It can also be caused by allergy. Children with a family history of allergy are more likely to develop sinusitis.
Sinusitis is more common in older children and adults than in babies and younger children.
The sinuses are the little spaces or hollows between the bones of your skull and face. The sinuses are connected to each other. They’re also connected by small tubes to the passages inside your nose.
If your child has sinusitis, they’ll have thick, green mucus coming out of their nose. There might be nasal fluid running down the back of their throat. This is called ‘post-nasal drip’. It might cause irritation and coughing.
Your child might feel pressure or congestion over the area of an infected sinus.
Pain and swelling are common symptoms too, especially under the eyes. Pain is usually worse on one side of the face.
Medical help: when to get it for children with sinusitis
You should take your child to your GP if your child has:
- symptoms of sinusitis
- fever or is generally unwell with no apparent cause
- a cough
- eye swelling during or after a bad cold.
If your child has sinusitis for a long time or keeps getting it, they should also see the GP.
If your child shows symptoms of sinusitis and also complains of a headache, it’s best to see a medical professional as soon as possible.
Tests for sinusitis
Most children don’t usually need any tests to diagnose sinusitis.
If your child suffers from regular sinusitis, your GP might send them for an X-ray or a CT scan of their face to see how severe the sinusitis is and whether there are any problems with the structure of the sinuses.
Saline nasal drops or washes can help clear congestion.
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for sinusitis caused by bacterial infection. They’re also used when sinusitis is caused by a viral infection and the symptoms haven’t cleared after 10 days or are getting worse despite treatment.
If sinusitis is caused by allergies, nasal steroid sprays can reduce the swelling in the lining of the sinuses, which can help with mucus drainage.
Prevention of sinusitis
The best way to prevent sinusitis caused by a viral infection is to protect yourself from getting a cold or the flu. Regular hand-washing and not sharing drink bottles, cups or utensils are simple ways to do this.
If sinusitis is caused by allergy, taking regular antihistamines and using nasal steroid sprays can help prevent it.