My daughter gets chronic sinus infections. Anytime she gets a cold, it turns into an infection and she has to take antibiotics. How can I keep her from getting these so often?
There is a lot of confusion about colds, sinus infections and treatments for both. Most viral upper respiratory infections (colds) resolve over a period of 7-10 days and require no specific treatment. Fever is not uncommon at the outset of a cold. Typically, the nasal discharge looks clear at first, then becomes cloudy or yellow-green, then clear again and then disappears. The color of the nasal secretions alone does not define or indicate a sinus infection.
Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. Some practitioners overuse antibiotics, inappropriately prescribing them for viral respiratory infections because of yellow-green nasal secretions.
What symptoms and signs suggest that a child has a sinus infection rather than just a cold?
A child who appears very ill with a “cold,” has a high fever, a large amount of yellow-green discharge from the nose, eye swelling and eye pain or headache probably has an acute sinus infection. More often, a child with a sinus infection has cold symptoms that last longer than 10 days without any improvement. The child has nasal discharge (clear or cloudy), cough (day and night but often worse at night) and may have eye swelling or bad breath or both. In the first case the child is much sicker than expected; in the second, the symptoms last longer.
Why do children get sinus infections?
The most common predisposing factor is a cold. The sinuses are lined by the very same layer of mucus-producing tissue that lines the inside of the nose and upper respiratory tract. When that lining is inflamed and swollen, the sinuses’ exit passages cannot drain properly. Bacteria can set up shop and create an infection for which antibiotic treatment is necessary. Allergies are another reason why some children get sinus infections, because they too have swollen and inflamed upper respiratory tracts. In addition to treatment with antibiotics, allergic children need treatment of their allergies.