What is Acute Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is swelling and inflammation of the lining of the nose and sinuses. The condition is sometimes known as a sinus infection.
Sinuses are air-filled spaces located in different areas of the face. Usually they’re empty.
When a child gets a cold, the lining of these spaces becomes irritated and starts making fluid. Most of the time this process gets better on its own and the discomfort is short-term.
But if the fluid in these spaces sits there long enough or can’t drain, they can become infected with bacteria. This process usually takes 7 to 10 days.
Signs and symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
- At least 10 days of cold symptoms that don’t improve
- Headache or sinus pressure
- Thick nasal discharge
- Dark circles/bags under the eyes
How to Treat Acute Sinusitis
Sinus pain with a cold is common. It gets better on its own. If symptoms last for 10 days or more, then a bacterial sinus infection becomes more likely.
Bacterial sinus infections are treated with antibiotics and symptoms usually begin to improve within 2 to 3 days.
Other supportive care you can offer your child includes:
- Tylenol or ibuprofen
- Warm compresses over the sinuses as often as your child likes
- Drink plenty of fluids to thin the congestion
- Use saline (salt water) nose drops or spray to loosen up the dried mucus. If you don’t have saline, you can use a few drops of bottled water or clean tap water.
- Run a hot shower to create a steam-filled bathroom where your child can sit to help clear stuffiness
- For children 8 years of age and older, saline sinus irrigation can provide better relief of congestion.
- Cool-mist humidifier. Make sure to clean daily to avoid bacteria and mold growth. Warm-mist humidifier not recommended.
Check in with K if…
- You have general questions about your child’s condition
- You’d like some suggestions about supportive care
- You want general followup for your child
See a doctor in person if…
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child develops a worsening headache especially if it’s in one specific area
- Swelling redness around the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Your child is not drinking well
- Your child develops unusual lethargy/tiredness
- Your child’s symptoms don’t improve or worsen after 48-72 hours on antibiotics