Sinus Infection Symptoms
Does your child frequently have blocked or runny nose, and cough?
These symptoms are usually caused by common colds. If they do not settle within 5-10 days, it may mean your child has a sinus infection (sinusitis).
How do I know if my child has a sinus infection?
- A cold does not go away after 10-14 days
- Your child’s nose is persistently stuffy
- There is thick nasal discharge (often yellow or green)
- Cough, sore throat, bad breath or vomiting occur because of nasal back-drip
- Your child complains of headache or facial pain
- There are symptoms like irritability, fatigue, swelling round the eyes, and low grade fever
Does coughing mean a sinus infection?
Cough is a frequent complaint in sinus infection, especially when other symptoms are also present. However other causes of cough may need to be excluded.
Sinus Infection Treatment
What can I do if my child has a sinus infection?
Saline nose-drops or gentle nasal rinses can help clear secretions. Nose sprays, mucous thinners, and decongestants, and certain herbal-based preparations can also be used. Antibiotics are usually not needed except for severe or persistent symptoms. Sometimes prolonged courses for several weeks are needed.
Conditions contributing to sinus infections such as allergy, gastroesophageal reflux, and certain immune system disorders may require investigation and treatment.
Sometimes examination of the nose with a telescope, or a CT scan is recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
Sinus Infection Surgery Options
Will my child need surgery for his or her sinus infection?
If infections recur frequently, are persistent, or are particularly severe, despite medication, then surgery may help. Three types of operations are usually considered:
- Adenoidectomy refers to removal of adenoid tissue at the back of the nose.
- The adenoids are not part of the sinuses but can harbor infection and contribute to persistent symptoms. Studies show that removing the adenoids can help clear the sinuses. Adenoid removal is performed safely with minimal or no bleeding using devices such as the Coblator® which Dr. Lau is experienced with. The procedure is a day surgery or with an overnight stay.
- Sinus washout is a simple procedure often combined with adenoidectomy for recurrent or persistent sinus infection. It involves puncturing the sinus through the nose with a special cannula. In adults this can be carried out under local anesthetic but in children general anesthetic is needed. The procedure has an advantage of allowing collection of infected secretions to determine the cause of infection. Sinus washout can be combined with balloon sinuplasty which uses a balloon to widen the sinus drainage opening.
- Endoscopic sinus surgery is another surgical option usually reserved for if adenoidectomy and sinus washout do not resolve the problem (which can happen!). Endoscopic sinus surgery is a minimally invasive camera-directed technique to clean out the sinuses through the nose. There is a potential for affecting facial growth so this surgery is usually reserved for very severe cases.
Dr. Lau is experienced in each of the above techniques and would be happy to discuss them with you as well as alternatives to surgery in more detail.