Because the sinuses aren’t fully developed until the teen years, children are susceptible to sinus and allergy conditions. Unfortunately, these are often difficult to diagnose, since the symptoms can be caused by a number of other conditions. When your child is experiencing cold-like symptoms that don’t respond well to medical treatment, a visit to an ENT specialist can help determine if allergies or sinus conditions are the cause.
How to Tell When Allergies or Sinus Conditions are to Blame
Allergy and sinus symptoms are very similar to those associated with the common cold and other viral infections. One key distinguishing characteristic is that symptoms tend to linger instead of disappearing after the usual 10 to 14 days. Look for runny nose, sneezing, congestion, cough, sore throat, wheezing, headaches, nasal discharge, irritability, fatigue, swelling under the eyes, bad breath, nausea, and vomiting. Itchy eyes, nose, and throat are a telltale sign of allergies, which may be triggered by pollen, dust, dander, and other environmental irritants. They are often seasonal in nature.
Pediatric sinusitis can be acute (short term) or chronic (persisting for 12 weeks or more and/or recurring frequently). Allergies may contribute to, or even worsen, the symptoms.
Treating Allergy & Sinus Conditions
It takes a through examination in order to diagnose whether your child’s symptoms are the result of allergy or sinus conditions. A physical exam, in conjunction with a close inspection of the ears, nose, and throat, are crucial first steps. Additional diagnostic tests, such as skin and blood tests to identify allergies, will likely be given.
Medications can help treat many allergy and sinus symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroid sprays, and eye drops may be prescribed. When drugs are ineffective, long-term solutions such as immunotherapy shots or drops often do the trick, though it takes several years in most cases for your body to build up a tolerance. Additional steps you can take at home include drinking lots of fluids, using a humidifier or vaporizer to moisten the air, and a warm compress to ease sinus discomfort. Surgery may be a possibility for those who find other methods ineffective.