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Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection In A Toddler

Sore Throat Bad Breath And/or Nausea And Vomiting

Chapter 3: Nasal and Sinus Problems and Solutions

A few non specific symptoms such as sore throat, bad breath or nausea and vomiting could indicate sinusitis. However, these may be caused by a number of other reasons as well, so parents need to understand that these symptoms along with the other listed symptoms is more characteristic of sinusitis, and not in isolation.

Schedule An Appointment With Our Pediatric Ent Specialists In Birmingham

Is your child suffering from the symptoms of chronic sinusitis? Our expert team of physicians can help diagnose and provide customized treatment plans for your child. Through our teams use of the Childrens of Alabama Hospital and the use of an outpatient center near the central Birmingham hospital, patients are given the top of the line, easy-to-access medical care for their needs. To learn more about sinusitis or to schedule an appointment, contact our Birmingham office today.

For your convenience, please fill out the form below to schedule an appointment.

A member of our team will contact you to confirm your desired day and time or offer an alternative day and time that accommodates your schedule.

Does My Child Need Antibiotics For Sinusitis

Antibiotics are seldom needed to treat sinusitis because sinusitis is mostly caused by viruses . Antibiotics only work against bacteria but not viruses.

Antibiotic resistance
Using antibiotics when they are not needed can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is when overuse of antibiotics encourages the growth of bacteria that cant be controlled easily with medicines. That makes your child more at risk of antibiotic-resistant infections in the future and makes antibiotics less effective for everyone.
  • Antibiotics are considered when symptoms last longer than 10 days, start to improve but then worsen again, or are very severe such as a fever over 39°C, extreme pain and tenderness over your sinuses, or signs of a skin infection, such as a hot, red rash that spreads quickly.
  • If your child is given antibiotics, its important that they finish the full course, even if they feel better after a few days.

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What Complications Might Children With Acute Sinusitis Experience

The most common complication is chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis causes similar symptoms to acute sinusitis but lasts longer.

Other complications are rare but can be serious. This can include infections spreading from the sinuses to around an eye or into bones, blood or brain. Children are more prone than adults are to such complications. See your doctor urgently if you child with sinusitis has swelling or redness of an eyelid or cheek.

Signs Your Toddler Has A Sinus Infection Not Just A Common Cold

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When a toddler is sick, even a very verbal one may not have the language to tell you exactly what’s wrong. What looks like a common cold could really be something more serious and possibly something that warrants a doctor’s visit and antibiotics. The hard part is knowing when you’ve hit that point, so it’s helpful to know the signs your toddler has a sinus infection and not just a common cold.

A sinus infection, or sinusitis , “occurs when the fluid that accumulates in the sinuses during a cold or allergy doesn’t drain sufficiently through the nose and the back of the throat and eventually becomes infected,” according to Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician who has written 22 books on childcare. He cautioned that if your child’s cold has lasted for 10 days, if they seem sicker than usual and have lost their energy, it could be a good idea to see a doctor.

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Untreated Sinus Infection Risks

Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.

If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.

While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.

Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:

Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.

If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.

An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.

Conditions causing your chronic infections may include:

How Can A Cold Or Allergy Become Sinusitis

With a little anatomy lesson, you’ll see how easy it is for a sinus infection to begin.

The sinuses are air-filled cavities above and below your eyes and on either side of your nose. When you have a cold or allergies, the normally thin lining of the sinuses swells.

Sometimes the swelling blocks the passages between the sinuses and the nose, and that’s when problems arise. Mucus gets trapped in the sinuses, and the warm, wet, dark environment is the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.

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Nasal Discharge And Facial Swelling

Your sinuses are located near your eyes and nose. As a result, inflammation from infection could cause your childs face to swell, usually accompanied by tenderness and pain. Additionally, your child may have purulent nasal discharge, secretions that are thickened and may be discolored, Also, your child may also have a headache or show discomfort if they are not able to tell you. A warm compress can be a gentle way to treat this symptom for your child and give them comfort.

What Causes Acute Sinusitis In Children

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Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a viral infection, such as a cold. If your child has symptoms longer than the usual week to 10 days that a cold lasts, then they may have an acute sinus infection. Young children are more prone to infections in their sinuses, especially in their first few years. These infections may be made worse if your child has any allergies.

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Dont Give Your Child A Decongestant Drug Either

Reaching for drugstore products to relieve your young childs discomfort should also be avoided, researchers now say. A study published in October 2018 in the British Medical Journal found there is no evidence that commonly used decongestants do anything to help nasal symptoms in children. The authors say kids under age 6 should never be given these medicines, while those 6 to 12 should take them with caution because any benefit might be outweighed by side effects like upset stomach or drowsiness.

So what actually does work? Not much has been proved scientifically, the BMJ study found. But pediatricians say their experience shows home remedies often ease your childs discomfort until the immune system clears it up.

Sinus Pain Comes From What Kinds Of Sinusitis

Medical specialists agree that the primary criteria for sinusitis include facial pain, unusual and thick nasal discharge and congestion. Many sinus infection symptoms are common to both acute and chronic forms of sinusitis.

Acute sinusitis may last a short time, specifically less than four weeks, as defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Such an acute infection normally accompany a cold or other respiratory illness. Chronic sinus infections continue twelve or more weeks or recur multiple times.

Having a physician check you is the best method of knowing whether you have an infection, discover the cause and receive effective treatment.

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Which Children Are At Risk For Sinus Infection

A sinus infection sometimes happens after an upper respiratory infection or common cold. The cold causes swelling that can block the opening of the sinuses. This can cause a sinus infection. Allergies can also lead to sinusitis because of swelling and increased mucus. Other possible conditions that can lead to sinusitis include:

  • Abnormal shape of the nose.
  • Infection from a tooth.
  • Foreign object in the nose.
  • Birth defect with abnormality of the roof of the mouth .
  • Problem with stomach acids .

What Causes Pediatric Sinusitis

Pediatric Sinusitis

Young children are more prone to infections of the nose, sinus, and ears, especially in the first several years of life. Viruses, allergies, or bacteria usually cause sinusitis. Acute viral sinusitis is likely if your child has been sick for less than 10 days and is not getting worse. Acute bacterial sinusitis is likely when the sinusitis symptoms do not improve at all within 10 days of getting sick, or if your child gets worse within 10 days after beginning to get better.

Chronic sinusitis lasts 12 weeks or longer, and is usually caused by prolonged inflammation, instead of a long infection. Infection can be a part of chronic sinusitis, especially when it worsens from time to time, but is not usually the main cause.

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Sinus Infections In Children Symptoms And Treatments

Its not unusual for small children to have runny noses, which is why parents find it helpful to always have a pack of pocket tissues on hand. The runny nose could be a sign of allergies, a head cold, or even playing outside in the cold weather.

But when a runny nose is paired with other symptoms, it could indicate that you need to schedule an appointment with an ENT.

Consult A Doctor If Home Remedies Dont Help Sinus Symptoms

If symptoms persist without improvement for more than 10 days, you should consult your pediatrician.

You should also call the doctor before that time if your childs sinus pain is accompanied and a discharge for several days, or if their symptoms significantly worsen. In these cases, antibiotics may be appropriate.

Important Notice: This article was originally published at by Meryl Davids Landau where all credits are due. Medically Reviewed by Justin Laube, MD

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When To See A Doctor For Sinus Pain

If your sinus symptoms are not getting better with at-home treatments, and if your sinus symptoms last longer than seven to 10 days, you should see a doctor for treatment. Allina Health has many convenient care options for care, from online visits to walk-in care, to help you get better fast.

If you have frequent or reoccurring sinus infections, you may want to see an ear, nose and throat for your treatment options.

How Is Acute Sinusitis In Children Diagnosed

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Your doctor will examine your childs ears, nose and throat. The doctor may look for things that make your child more likely to get a sinus infection, such as the structure of their airways, any allergies or conditions that affect their immune system.

In some cases, the doctor may also get a CT scan may to work out how fully your child’s sinuses are developed, where any blockage has occurred and to confirm the diagnosis of sinusitis.

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Bacterial Sinus Infections: When To Suspect

  • Yellow or green nasal discharge is seen with both viral and bacterial sinus infections. Suspect a bacterial infection if the discharge becomes thick . But, it also needs one or more of these symptoms:
  • Sinus Pain, not just normal sinus congestion. Pain occurs mainly behind the cheekbone or eye or
  • Swelling or redness of the skin over any sinus or
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days or
  • Fever returns after it’s been gone for over 24 hours or
  • Nasal discharge and post-nasal drip lasts over 14 days without improvement

Consider Nose Strips To Ease Breathing In Older Kids

Although Rolnick says even older children typically pull off those drugstore nose strips as soon as you place them on, when they do stay on they open the passageways enough to help your child breathe easier.

If you have an older child you think might allow the strips to remain, especially when they are sleeping, this could be worth a try.

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How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed In A Child

The diagnosis of sinusitis in a child is made by observing the symptoms. Its important to note that sinusitis can be differentiated from other conditions, such as bacterial or viral infections, on physical exam. CT scans and X-Rays may also be used to get a more detailed assessment of the problem. For example, if a child complains of feelings of pressure and fullness in their head, they likely have sinusitis.

Some other common symptoms include headaches ear pain sensitive ears facial pain fever congestion red or swollen eyes and neck pain.

Signs That Antibiotics Might Be Necessary For A Sinus Infection


Because of the concerns about antibiotic resistance, many primary care physicians and ENTs are selective about when they prescribe antibiotics.

If the sinus infection is bacterial, then an antibiotic can be a great way to clear up the infection. But we avoid using these prescription medications for viral infections.

Specific criteria need to be met before we consider using antibiotics for a sinus infection treatment:

  • Symptoms Are Not Improving: The child has had nasal congestion, facial pressure/pain, coughing, and a sinus headache for 10 days. These symptoms arent improving.
  • Symptoms Improved, Then Worsened: Sometimes, the head cold symptoms will start to go away after 5 or 6 days. However, if symptoms start up again and get worse, it could be due to a new infection in the sinuses.
  • Fever for Several Days: The presence of fever could be an indication of an underlying infection. Watch for a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts for several days in a row.
  • If antibiotics are recommended for children, the treatment typically lasts for 10 14 days. After that, your pediatrician or ENT will prescribe the ideal treatment plan to address your childs unique needs.

    The childs symptoms will begin to improve within a few days of starting the medication. As with any type of antibiotic treatment, its crucial to continue doses consistently until the prescription is finished even if the symptoms are gone.

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    Is It A Cold Sinus Infection Or Allergies

    Your child has a runny nose. Is it a cold, sinus infection or allergies? And what can you do to help? CHOC experts offer advice.

    March 28, 2017 November 11, 2022


    By Fionna Lam and Tran Nguyen, clinical pharmacists at CHOC and Dr. Jonathan Auth, CHOC pediatrician

    With the winter season nearing the end and spring season already here, many of us are experiencing nasal symptoms related to the common cold, a sinus infection, or seasonal allergies. Since all these conditions share overlapping signs such as sneezing, nasal discharge and congestion, distinguishing between them may be the first step to selecting the proper over-the-counter remedy for symptomatic relief.

    The common cold usually peaks during cold weather and is caused by a viral infection. While children may feel crummy for a few days, most cold symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medications. Sinus infections, on the other hand, can bring about headaches and facial pain. It can happen after a prolonged common cold when the body is more vulnerable to bacterial or viral infections. Some children may be more susceptible to sinus infections than others due to structural abnormalities in the nose.

    Featured article

    The following table compares some common signs and symptoms of common cold, sinus infections and seasonal allergies:

    +/- may or may not be present

    Active ingredient

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    What Is Sinusitis In Children

    Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses. These infections often happen after a cold or with allergies. There are 3 types of sinusitis:

    • Short-term . Symptoms of this type of infection last less than 12 weeks and get better with the correct treatment.

    • Long-term . These symptoms last longer than 12 weeks.

    • Recurrent. This means the infection comes back again and again. It means 3 or more episodes of acute sinusitis in a year.

    The sinuses are air-filled spaces near the nose. They are lined with mucous membranes. There are 4 different sinuses:

    • Ethmoid sinus. Located around the bridge of the nose. This sinus is present at birth and continues to grow.

    • Maxillary sinus. Located around the cheeks. This sinus is also present at birth and continues to grow.

    • Frontal sinus. Located in the area of the forehead. This sinus does not develop until around age 7.

    • Sphenoid sinus. Located deep behind the nose. This sinus does not develop until the teen years.

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