Home » Services & Specialties » Ear, Nose and Throat Services (Otolaryngology) » Conditions & Treatments » Frequently Asked Questions » Sinusitis FAQs

Sinusitis FAQs

What are the sinuses and where are they?

The sinuses are empty pockets in the facial bones, filled with air. They have different names, depending on their location: ethmoid, frontal, maxillary and sphenoid sinuses.

  • Ethmoid: between the eyes
  • Frontal: in the forehead
  • Maxillary: behind the cheekbones
  • Sphenoid: behind the nose

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis happens when one or more of your child's sinuses are inflamed or infected. At birth, babies have ethmoid and maxillary sinuses. Frontal and sphenoid sinuses only develop as children get older.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

It can be hard to tell the difference between a common cold and a sinus infection. One guideline is that a cold will usually get worse after a few days but improve by about 10 to 14 days. Sinusitis usually continues to worsen even after a week or so.

What causes sinusitis?

Anything that blocks natural drainage openings in the sinuses can lead to infection, which ultimately leads to sinusitis. That means that allergies, ful, the common cold or a bacterial infection can cause siniusitis. Blockage may also happen when small projections called polyps are present in the sinus. Polyps can be caused by allergies or chronic infection.

When the natural route of drainage is blocked, mucus builds up, many times leading to inflammation and infection of the trapped mucus.

How many kinds of sinusitis exist?

Several. Most kids get acute sinusitis, when mucus is trapped in the sinus cavity and becomes infected. This usually improves after several weeks on antibiotics.

Chronic sinusitis is another kind of sinus infection, which lasts longer but feels less painful. Chronic sinusitis can last for more than three months. Allergies or unrelated, longstanding illness can aggravate chronic sinusitis.

How will my doctor diagnose sinusitis?

A doctor will look at the history of your child's symptoms, including the following:

  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Cough
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Bad breath
  • Headache
  • Swelling aroundthe eyes
  • Behaviour changes
  • Length of symptoms

What kind of checkup will my child receive?

After noting your child's symptoms, your doctor will examine the ears, nose and throat. A special scope may be used to look farther into the nose, and if a deeper look into the sinuses is necessary, an x-ray or CAT scan (computed tomography scan) may be taken to allow a better look at the sinuses.

How is sinusitis treated?

Acute sinusitis: doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic for a few weeks to clear the sinus infection, along with nasal sprays to help your child get rid of mucus from the sinuses. Your child should improve within a few days, but be sure to take all the antibiotics your doctor gives you, otherwise the infection may return and eventually become harder to treat. If your doctor suspects an allergy may be triggering or worsening your child's sinusitis, you may be referred to an allergist to see if allergy treatment can help resolve the situation.

Chronic sinusitis: When a child has recurring acute sinus infections within a few years, or a longstanding chronic sinusitis which does not improve completely with antibiotics, surgery or other procedures may help. These alternate treatments include:

  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Sinus culture
  • Adenoidectomy

Can sinusitis lead to any serious health issues?

Serious complications from sinusitis are rare, but include:

  • Infection in the bones (osteomyelitis)
  • Orbital cellulites (infection in the tissues around the eyes)
  • Meningitis (infection in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
  • Brain abscess.

What kind of appointment would you like?