The four sinuses in our body are the hollow, air-filled cavities around our nose. When we develop a cold or an allergy, we start to accumulate mucus that blocks both our nasal passage and our sinuses. And when our sinuses are unable to drain that mucus out, it results in the growth of germs, leading to sinusitis. Sinus infections are usually caused due to a virus or bacteria, and are usually either “viral sinusitis” or “bacterial sinusitis”. That said, allergic sinusitis is also a possibility

Causes of sinusitis

Sinusitis is caused by viruses, bacteria or allergies. Viral sinusitis usually lasts less than 10 days and can be easily treated by taking medicines for the symptoms alone. In case of a bacterial sinusitis, the symptoms last for more than 10 days, and the doctor usually prescribes antibiotics to get your sinuses back to normal. Allergic sinusitis might happen from seasonal allergies like hay fever. Children who have allergies in their family’s medical history are more likely to develop sinusitis.

Why is sinusitis different in kids and teens?

Sinus infection in kids and teens is often regarded as “paediatric sinusitis” as it has different causes and symptoms from the sinusitis that happens in adults. In children, the sinuses are not fully developed until they reach their early teens (around the age of 9 to 12 years). Hence, the sinusitis might make its presence felt through other symptoms closer to a common cold. Although adults and older children are more likely to develop sinusitis, sinusitis in children and teens is more difficult to diagnose because of its symptoms.

Symptoms in younger kids

Sinusitis symptoms in younger kids are simpler in comparison to those in teens. Young kids are less likely to develop sinusitis because sinuses don’t develop fully inside them unless they are 9-12 years of age. So, in case your kid only has a slight cold and runny nose, it’s probably not sinusitis.

However, if there is fever after a few days of the cold-like symptoms (like headache, runny or stuffy nose), and the cold symptoms keep persisting, you should consult a doctor and check for sinusitis.

Some of the sinusitis symptoms in younger kids could be:

  • Cold lasting for more than 7 to 10 days with prominent symptoms (like cough, headache, sore throat etc.)
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Slight or heavy fever lasting for more than three days
  • Post-nasal drip; that is, when the mucus runs down from your nose to the back of your throat
  • Thick yellow-green nasal drainage
  • Bad breath
  • Crankiness or irritability in young children is also an important symptom to consider, and you should take your child to the doctor

Symptoms in older kids and teens

As you might have found out by now, the sinuses in our body start fully developing around the age of 9 to 12 years. So symptoms of sinusitis in older children are usually more prominent and distinct.

A viral or not-so-severe bacterial sinusitis might have the following symptoms:

  • A persistent daytime cough that does not get better even after 5 to 7 days of the cold
  • Severe headache around the eyes that gets worse when you try to bow or bend (usually in kids above the age of six)
  • Swelling of eyes, especially after waking up in the morning
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Post-nasal drip at the back of the throat
  • Redness of eyes in the morning
  • Thick yellow-green discharge from the nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Bad breath
  • Slight or heavy fever
  • Irritability or fatigue
  • Nausea with occasional vomiting

Although, in case of a severe bacterial sinusitis, the symptoms can get worse. Some of them include:

  • Redness in the eye and swelling around it persisting all day
  • Severe headache and pain in the neck
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Persistent vomiting

In such cases, a CT scan or an X-ray scan of the face should be done to diagnose it.

Sinusitis after RCT treatment

Sometimes when the pain post a root canal treatment keeps getting more intense and lasts for more than a week, there are high chances of discovering sinusitis. Such sinusitis is often known as ‘sinusitis of dental origin’. While getting your tooth cleaned, sometimes bacteria infiltrates to your inner tooth and finally to your sinuses, causing sinusitis.

Symptoms of this include:

  • Feeling air pass through the socket of your canaled tooth when you inhale
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Congestion
  • Headache or pain at the back of your neck

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