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What are the Most Common Symptoms of Sinusitis in Children?

By M.R. Anglin
Updated May 17, 2024
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Though a viral infection, like a cold, can cause sinus irritation and discharge, the term “sinusitis” often denotes sinuses infected by bacteria. Often, these bacterial infections necessitate a visit to the doctor so antibiotics or other treatments can be prescribed. Some common symptoms of sinusitis in children include nasal discharge, cough, fever, and sore throat, among other symptoms. The exact symptoms a child develops may differ, depending on his age. Treating sinusitis is important, as the infection can rarely but possibly spread to different parts of the body.

Sinusitis is the term given to an inflammation of the sinuses. Often, that inflammation is often caused by an infection. In children, this infection often occurs in the ethmoid sinuses — the sinuses between the eyes. Since other sinuses, like the frontal sinuses found in the forehead, don’t develop until a child is a teenager, a headache isn’t likely a symptom of sinusitis in young children. Older children and teens with sinusities, however, may experience a headache or tenderness and pain in different parts of the face. Children may also develop dental or ear pain as a symptom.

A more common symptom of sinusitis in children is nasal discharge. Should a child experience discharge for 10 days or more, he may have sinusitis. In this instance, the color of the discharge doesn’t matter, but is often accompanied by coughing during the day. This coughing may be due to a postnasal drip, a phenomenon resulting from mucus moving to the back of the throat or nose. A child may also develop a sore throat because of the postnasal drip.

Greenish discharge accompanied by severe symptoms that last for three or four days is also a symptom of a more severe form sinusitis in children. This form of sinusitis in children is often accompanied by a fever of 102°F (about 39°C) or more. A child may also experience double sickening as a symptom of sinusitis. Double sickening refers to a phenomenon in which a child may seem to get better after a cold only to get worse. Persistent symptoms that get worse after about a week is also another indication of sinusitis in children.

A child with sinusitis may also experience symptoms such as excess mucus, a stuffy or runny nose, or a mild fever. Sinusitis may also bring about halitosis, or bad breath, as well as earaches or pain in other areas of the body. In older children, a sinus infection may also be accompanied by an upset stomach and vomiting.

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