Child blowing nose

The sinuses are hollow cavities located in your cheekbones, forehead, nasal passages, and between and behind the eyes. The tissues that line them are similar to the mucous membranes inside the nose and mouth.

The three main types of pediatric sinusitis are viral, allergic, and bacterial. Viral sinusitis usually results from the common cold. Allergic sinusitis accompanies hay fever and other nasal allergies. In these situations, your child’s sinus tissues produce more mucus than normal, causing the sinuses to swell and become blocked.

Bacterial sinusitis is a little different. It occurs when bacteria gets trapped in the sinuses during a cold and causes an infection.

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Pediatric Sinusitis Symptoms

Symptoms of sinus problems in children can vary depending on age. In younger kids, these symptoms can include:

  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Coughing during the day or at night
  • A slight fever

In addition to these sinusitis symptoms, older kids may have:

  • Postnasal drip
  • Bad breath
  • Head or facial pain
  • Sore throat

Children with bacterial sinusitis also may have thick yellow or green nasal discharge, although it can sometimes be clear.

Treatment of Sinus Problems in Children

The best treatment for your child’s sinusitis depends on its cause. Consider calling your pediatrician if your child has a cold that lasts longer than seven to 10 days or seems to be getting worse. You also should consult the doctor if your child has multiple symptoms of sinusitis.

If your child’s doctor thinks bacterial sinusitis is to blame, a course of antibiotics may be necessary. Be sure your child takes the entire prescription, even after symptoms clear up.

For allergic sinusitis, antihistamines or decongestants may help. Viral sinusitis doesn’t require antibiotics or special medicine. Instead, you can treat it with over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Home remedies for sinusitis, such as warm compresses, can help ease pressure and congestion. An over-the-counter nasal saline solution also can help relieve symptoms and clear out bacteria and allergens.

Have more questions about sinus problems in children? Contact your child’s pediatrician. To find a UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh pediatrician, call 412-692-7337.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.