Sinusitis in Children

Posted in Sinusitis

Children, like adults, can also get sinusitis. But unlike in adults, sinusitis in children is not that easy to be diagnosed. Children have difficulties in describing what they really feel. In spite of this, the symptoms of sinusitis in children are slightly different from adults. These factors can lead to the misdiagnosing of this disease.

The sinus cavities existed since we were born. So, even a baby has sinuses. These cavities are not fully developed, though. The formation of sinuses reaches to completeness when a person reaches the age of 20. Unlike the well-developed sinuses, the sinuses in children are much smaller. The nasal tubes that connect sinuses with the nose are even tinier. This, obviously, will make the children even more prone to respiratory problems such as sinusitis. The immature immune system in children also leads to the higher-risk of infections.

The symptoms of sinusitis in children are basically the same with adult’s sinusitis. Sinus infection is mainly caused by bacterial infections and allergic reactions. Children may show flu-like symptoms such as excess mucus production, runny nose, cough, and fever. However, these symptoms are general in almost every type of respiratory diseases. Therefore, experts suggest that we don’t rush ourselves in diagnosing the symptoms. Many other respiratory diseases that are caused by viral infection show similar symptoms. If we over-diagnose them and treat the illnesses with sinusitis treatments like antibiotics, the illness wouldn’t get any better. Instead, the misuse of antibiotics might lead to antibiotic-resistance. To differentiate the common respiratory infections by viruses from bacterial sinus infection, people used to wait until 5-7days after the onset. Viral infections don’t need any cures. As long as the body is fit and the immune system is in the good shape, the infections may naturally disappear after a week. But if the symptoms persist longer, there may be indication of sinusitis. Other symptoms that may occur during sinus infection are fatigue, yellowish-green nasal drops, swollen eyes, and headaches in children of older ages.

Treatments of sinusitis in children are more or less the same with the ones applied to adults. Since most cases of sinusitis in children are caused by bacterial infection, antibiotics are often used. The exact dosage of antibiotics should be consulted to a doctor, as improper dosage of antibiotics may result in antibiotic resistance. Nasal irrigation with salt-water may also help thinning the mucus that clogs the sinus passage. Nose drops are often used by adults in an effort of loosening the mucus. However, children don’t usually welcome this method without complaining. This makes nasal drops or sprays not applicable to children.

Bromelain, an enzyme contained in pineapple, has been reported to have anti-inflammatory effect. This enzyme may help to suppress the swelling in the nasal tubes, thus allowing the patients to breathe more freely. Bromelain is a natural substance and cause mild side-effects only. However, this enzyme should be applied carefully because some people may have allergy to it.

In other case, where the sinusitis is caused by allergic reaction, further examinations may be required. Consult the symptoms and the child’s allergic history with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Several tests may be applied to children in order to confirm the type of allergen that causes sinus infection. If the sinusitis persists and often re-occur, the doctor may suggest a surgery. Through surgery, the doctor may change the nasal structure by enlarging the nasal passage. This aims to prevent the sinus passages from being clogged.

In conclusion, sinusitis in children is basically the same with the one that happens in adults. Nevertheless, children are more vulnerable than adults. This suggests that we should be more careful in diagnosing and treating sinusitis in children.

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