Does Your Child Just Have a Cold or is it Sinusitis?

Colds and coughs can often be a source of anxiety for parents, especially in the winter months. If your child has cold symptoms with a cough and fever that seems to be sticking around a little too long, it may be sinusitis (an infection and inflammation of the sinuses). Parents often mistake cold-related headaches in young children for sinus infections; however this is not always the case, as your child’s sinuses are not fully developed until late in the teen years.  The symptoms of the common cold and sinusitis can be very similar and include nasal congestion, cough, sore throat and/or fever. Watch for the following symptoms to determine if your child may be suffering from sinusitis:

  • Thick yellow-green nasal discharge
  • Pain in the jaw or behind the forehead or nose
  • Nasal congestion that persists for ten days or more
  • Swelling around the nose and eyes
  • Headache, usually in children 6 or older
  • Post-nasal-drip: exhibited as a sore throat, cough, bad breath, nausea and/or vomiting

Home care measures for sinus symptoms should focus on relieving nasal congestion, sinus pain and fever. Moisture alleviates nasal congestion, so 20 minutes in a steamy shower, and a cool mist humidifier in the room where your child sleeps will help keep the air moist. Sinus pain and pressure can be relieved with a cold compress and a pain reducing medication (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen).  Antihistamines and decongestants should be avoided as their effect is thickening of the nasal mucus. Because sinus infections are usually secondary to colds, prevention techniques should focus on the reduction of colds.  Good hand-washing should be the first line of defense in reducing your child’s exposure to viral infections.
If you are unsure about the severity of your child’s ongoing symptoms or if evaluation is necessary, it is better to err on the side of caution.  Call us for a consultation, and we’ll get your little one feeling better in no time.

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