Children’s sinuses continue to develop and grow well into their teen years. Not surprisingly, they are susceptible to allergy and sinus conditions even at a young age. Their symptoms are similar, and resemble those associated with the common cold, so diagnosis can be tricky.
Symptoms & Causes
Allergy and sinus conditions are associated with a variety of similar symptoms that may include runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose, coughing, sore throat, wheezing, headaches and itchy (or watery) eyes. These are the result of inflamed airways, which are caused by viruses or bacteria when sinus conditions are to blame, and an overactive immune system flooding the bloodstream with histamines when allergies are the cause.
Sinus infections in children (sinusitis) are typically caused by cold viruses or aggravated by allergies. This condition may be acute or chronic. Allergies are triggered by substances that the body perceives as a threat, but would otherwise be harmless, and include pollen from grasses, trees and weeds; pet dander; smoke; dust mites; chemicals; and medications. Determining whether your child’s symptoms are related to a sinus condition or allergies can be tricky, but is the best way to develop a successful treatment plan.
Diagnosis & Treatment
A complete physical examination is the first step in diagnosing the source of your child’s symptoms. This includes an inspection of the ears, nose and throat for any signs of infection. Skin and/or blood tests are used to test for allergies.
Sinus conditions may be treated with home remedies such as rest, fluids, warm compresses, humidifiers and medications. Certain chronic problems benefit best from surgery.
Allergies may be controlled medically through the use of antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroid sprays, eye drops and other prescription drugs. Immunotherapy – allergy shots – is a popular alternative for severe cases, and promises long-term relief once the body builds up a tolerance and immunity to the allergen trigger.