Sinusitis is a common ailment among children in which the lining of the sinuses swells due to irritation. This condition can be caused by a virus, as in the case of a typical cold, or a bacterial infection, which occurs when mucous gets trapped in the swollen sinuses and encourages germ growth. Sinusitis is usually accompanied by colds and allergies like hay fever, which initially makes it difficult to distinguish from viral rhinitis or the common cold. But if a child develops headaches and persistent bad breath along with their rhinitis and common cold symptoms, and if their nasal discharge eventually becomes thicker and takes on either a greenish or yellowish colour, that may be indicative of sinusitis.
Some signs of sinusitis to watch out for in your child include colds that last more than 10 days, increased irritability, headaches, cough, and vomiting. If these symptoms persist beyond 12 weeks, your child may be suffering from long-term sinusitis, a condition that requires more comprehensive medical attention, and it is a good idea to see an ENT (otorhinolaryngologist) specialist known as a rhinologist. If left untreated, sinusitis can also lead to more serious medical conditions like meningitis.
As with other childhood illnesses, the best approaches to curbing the effects of sinusitis involve the prevention of infections and timely medical treatment.
With regard to the former, here are some ways to keep your child from developing sinus infections. These precautions will keep sinusitis at bay and ensure that your children and the rest of your family members stay safe and healthy.
Ensure Sufficient Hydration and Nutrient Intake
Regular water intake is one of the simplest ways to alleviate any imminent symptoms of sinusitis, as it helps with congestion and allows mucus to flow. Consumption of healthy fluids like water also decreases a child’s chances of getting sick, as they keep a child’s mucous membranes moist enough to expel viruses and bacteria when they’re coughing and sneezing and make it easier for the child’s gastrointestinal system to absorb key nutrients. Knowing that, make sure that your child is always properly hydrated by having them drink around 8 ounces of water within two-hour intervals.
It’s also best to boost your child’s immunity by adding plenty of fruits and vegetables to their diet. Make sure that they eat foods with antibacterial properties such as ginger, garlic, and citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. A healthy immune system is one of the best safeguards against sinusitis as well as other childhood diseases.
Add Humidity to Your Living Space
Dry indoor environments prevent nasal congestions from easing up, as these also cause a child’s mucous membranes in their lower respiratory systems to dry up. This, in turn, may exacerbate the child’s cold symptoms and put them at risk of developing a bad case of sinusitis.
To prevent sinus irritation, you can increase the levels of moisture inside your home to healthy amounts by placing a humidifier in each room. These appliances can balance out excessive dryness in the air and prevent the irritation of your child’s airways, as well as their susceptibility to allergens like mould. You may also want to let your child sleep with a humidifier in the bedroom to prevent them from experiencing nasal blockages while they sleep.
Use Steam and Nasal Sprays
It’s also possible to use nasal sprays to keep your child’s nose moist enough, and therefore capable enough of mitigating mucous buildup. If your child has a cold, you can use saline sprays several times a day to ease nasal congestion. Nasal sprays are available in most drugstores and should be included in any home’s medicine cabinet.
In addition to saline sprays, you can also use steam to unclog nasal passages. If your child is experiencing a cold, have them take hot showers and inhale the damp air from the steam. You can also try the home remedy of filling a bowl with hot water and having your child lean over it with a thick towel over their head for about 10 minutes to eliminate mucous. Make sure that they are a safe distance away from the hot water so that they don’t accidentally incur burns or scalds.
Keep Your Child Away from Cigarette Smoke
In itself, cigarette smoking is already a bad habit that can harm both the smoker and those around them. But when your child inhales irritants from the smoke, mucous can get clogged in their nasal cavities, thus making them more vulnerable to sicknesses like sinusitis. If you happen to be a smoker or have a family member who smokes in your household, avoid smoking around your child. In the long run, for the sake of your child’s health as well as your own, you may want to kick the habit altogether.
Clean Off or Eliminate Allergens
Keeping allergens away from your child is a good practice, especially if your child has a history of allergic reactions. As such, you need to be mindful of allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and mould that might trigger a reaction in your child. Make sure to clean your home regularly and do some dusting or vacuuming to ward off potential triggers.
It would also be a good idea to teach your child to be aware of their allergies so that they can be proactive about protecting themselves from rhinitis, as well as the sinusitis that their allergic rhinitis can evolve into. Apart from teaching them to be more aware of their allergies, you may want to consider more thorough allergy treatments such as nasal steroid therapy and immunotherapy or allergy shots.
Practise Good Hand Hygiene
Because people touch their eyes, mouth, and nose frequently, harmful microorganisms can enter the respiratory system through these cavities. Proper handwashing with soap removes these from the skin and prevents them from contaminating the body as well as the person’s food and belongings. Good hand hygiene also protects other people from getting infected by germs—which is a good principle for a child to learn even at an early age.
To prevent your child from getting sinusitis and other infectious diseases—and to help them become considerate of others’ health—you should teach them proper handwashing techniques and good hand hygiene. Enjoin them to wash their hands before and after using the bathroom, as well as before they eat. In general, experts recommend handwashing for at least 20 seconds for optimal disinfection.
Limit Time in Chlorine Pools
Chlorine in swimming pools is known to irritate the sinuses when it enters the nose and ears. In addition, pool water may contain bacteria that have not been killed by chlorine, which could cause a sinus infection. Consider limiting your child’s time swimming in chlorine pools to avoid symptoms of sinusitis from setting in, and discourage them from swimming if they don’t feel like they’re in tip-top shape.
Minimise Contact with Sick People and Update Your Child’s Immunisation Records
Sinusitis can also be acquired through viral infection, which is why your child should not be exposed to sick individuals—especially those with colds and upper respiratory infections. If you don’t know whether they’ll come into contact with someone sick and don’t want to take any chances, add another layer of protection by staying up to date on immunisation measures for your child and the rest of your family. Consider making time for periodic vaccinations to ensure the safety of your family, as well as those around you.
Conclusion: Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure
Sinusitis in children is easily treated, especially if the child is healthy and has access to timely medical care. That said, there are several steps you can take to nip this illness in the bud. While it’s good to know all the treatment options available for sinusitis and its complications, it’s always better to be aware of the changes you can make in your life to keep your family safe and protected.