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Pediatric Sinus Health

When it comes to your children’s health, you only want the best. At Santa Cruz Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Group, we are proud to offer a variety of treatment plans for your child’s nasal and sinus health. Our professionals are versed in pediatric sinus conditions and can offer parent’s peace of mind when it comes to treating children.


In a world where children are congregated in school and elsewhere, infections spread widely and quickly. Everyone is used to having “a virus going around,” or the same cold everyone else has. While this is often true, many children have allergies, both seasonal and perennial, that exhibit the symptoms of colds and flu. Hay fever is rampant in the U.S. and children can have plant and pollen allergies, food allergies and others.

“Allergies in infants and children are common; in fact, allergy-related disorders are among the leading diagnoses of chronic diseases in children. According to one study, four to six percent of children have food allergies, eight to 10 percent have asthma and 15-25 percent have allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Collectively, children with allergies miss hundreds of thousands of school days every year.” (1)

In young children, the sinuses are not fully developed. The four sinus groups are not well developed until the late teens. Allergies like hay fever can be stronger in children and difficult to diagnose. They can affect the ears and throat, as well as the sinuses and nose. (2) It must also be noted that allergies to food and pets are common and produce many of the same symptoms as viral and bacterial diseases and pollen allergies.

ENTs test for allergies using standard methods. They use blood to initiate tests or use the skin prick method that produces a red swelling area if the child is allergic to a certain substance. This is the same method commonly used in adults.


Sinusitis in children can be more severe than in adults because the sinuses are not fully developed. The ENT will check a wide spectrum of causes that match the symptoms. Sinusitis occurs through contracting a virus or bacteria; through allergies like hay fever, pet dander and foods; chronically through reinfection and debris stored in the nose and sinuses.


One of the most common health problems in young children is pediatric sinusitis. It can be chronic and can disrupt sleep. Symptoms of sinusitis include thick, yellow-green nasal discharge, pain and swelling around the eyes, headache, coughing and sore throat. These are symptoms usually associated with the common cold, and a fever is often present in both conditions.

Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed when symptoms last longer than ten weeks. Patients will seem to get better for a period of time but present with the symptoms again during many weeks.

Secondary symptoms of chronic sinusitis include fatigue, headache without nasal symptoms and bad breath. Infections that can start sinusitis symptoms are bacterial of viral, and allergies also play a large role in adding to symptoms. Allergy tests are recommended for those suspected of having chronic sinusitis.

Since the eyes, throat and ears are all connected to sinus activity, including clogged openings and drainage, earache and sore throat can be symptoms of sinus problems.


The ENT will commonly use antibiotics in children, but may be careful prescribing as many due to the risk of overuse. Many of the solutions for adults are available for children, but the doctor will often begin with treatments that are not medicinal, like saline and steam treatments to relieve symptoms. While decongestant and antihistamine products can help, they are less effective in children (2) and not as widely prescribed as for adults.

Parents are most concerned about chronic sinusitis and the eventual need for surgery. ENTs recommend surgery only for persistent chronic sinusitis that does not respond to other medical procedures. The norm today is endoscopic surgery, in which a thin light/camera wire is inserted through the nostril to view sinuses. The surgeon can open sinus passages and remove obstructive or diseased tissue. In this case, the surgeon may take samples of tissue for cultures.

If there are structural abnormalities in a child’s sinuses or nose, this could be the time to address those. The ENT will discuss all these possibilities with parents while considering treatments.

If you notice chronic sinus and nasal problems with your child, contact our office today to schedule and appointment with one of our caring and qualified professionals!

  1. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergy-treatment/allergy-testing/allergy-testing-children-and-infants
  2. http://www.entnet.org/content/pediatric-sinusitis