The common cold is a natural part of everyone’s childhood, and while unpleasant for a day or two, typically come and go as quickly as they start. But when the uncomfortable signs and symptoms of a cold, such as a runny nose, coughing, and a headache, linger for more than a few days, it may be time to schedule a visit with your pediatrician to determine whether it is a more severe infection called sinusitis.
The Common Cold vs. Sinusitis
Sinusitis occurs when the nasal passageways become infected, often as a result of a cold or allergic inflammation in which the sinuses are so swollen and inflamed that bacteria is blocked in the sinus cavities. Therefore, a sinus infection may start out as a cold, seasonal allergies, or other upper respiratory infection, only to become an additional infection.
Unlike the common cold, sinusitis will cause the following symptoms:
- Runny nose, cough, and/or mild fever that last more than 10 days without improvement
- Thick nasal discharge that is yellow or green
- Nighttime cough
- Swelling around the eyes and face
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Postnasal drip
In many cases, even a sinus infection will clear up with over-the-counter medications to help alleviate the symptoms. However, it is important to consult with your son or daughter’s pediatrician to diagnose whether more treatment is necessary.
Younger vs. Older
It is important to note that the symptoms may vary depending on your child’s age. Younger children do not have fully developed sinuses. For example, the ethimoid and mexillary sinuses are present at birth, however, the frontal sinus is not fully developed until seven years of age, and the sphenoid sinus does not develop until adolescence. Children younger than five typically do not experience headaches as a symptom of sinusitis.
Is it Chronic Sinusitis?
Recurrent infections of the sinuses may be an indication of another condition that may need medical attention, such as
- Foreign object stuck in the nose
- Enlarged adenoids
- Abnormal structure of the nose
- Tooth infection
- Cleft palate
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Depending on the cause, chronic sinusitis may be treated with a functional endoscopic sinus surgery, a sinus culture, adenoidectomy, or other procedure. If the nasal pathways are blocked, minimally-invasive surgery may be necessary to open up the passageways while also leaving the developing bone structure of the child’s face untouched.
Preventing Sinusitis at Home
In order to help prevent infections, it is strongly suggested that you teach your child to wash his or her hands regularly, as well as use a cool home humidifier to help keep the nasal passages from becoming irritated by dry weather.
Contact a Pediatrician in Birmingham Today!
If your child is suffering from sinusitis or another ear, nose, or throat condition, contact Pediatric ENT Associates at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama at (205) 831-0101 to schedule a consultation today!
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