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School tends to be a breeding ground for infections, particularly during cold, flu and allergy seasons. Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose what ails your child due to shared symptoms among the conditions. If your child appears to be dealing with breathing issues or seems to be enduring frequent head-colds, you should find the root cause of the problem in order to address the illness appropriately. A sinus infection could be the cause.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases defines sinus infections as “an inflammation of the membranes lining the paranasal sinuses—small air-filled spaces located within the skull or bones of the head surrounding the nose.” Because the condition relates to inflammation, there isn’t a specific cause of sinus infections. There are a number of problems that occur within the nasal passage that can lead to this type of inflammation.
Sometimes, the cause of the sinusitis is a cold that floods the nose with mucus that doesn’t drain properly, leading to inflammation of the sinuses. Other times, the cause of the blockage has to do with a bacterial infection the body has difficulty fighting off. It’s important to make a distinction between the two, because antibiotics will not improve your child’s condition if the cause of their infection is a cold.
In some cases, there’s a specific type of bacteria that migrate to the nasal area, such as “streptococcus pneumoniae or haemophilus influenzae, which don’t affect people with healthy immune systems. However, when the immune system is compromised, these bacteria end up multiplying and causing a sinus infection. If this is the cause of the infection, it merits seeking further opinions about the immune health of your child.
Any medical condition that results in an abnormal amount of mucus created in the nose and throat, like cystic fibrosis, will increase the chances of your child having sinus issues. New causes of sinus infections are currently being studied as well, such as aspiring-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), which creates issues for those with nasal polyps while they take NIAID medications.
Because there are so many different ways to develop a sinus infection, it’s difficult to say for sure whether or not your child is dealing with a sinus infection that was initiated primarily due to contact with other school kids. If there was a cold, flu or infection making the rounds at school, there’s a chance that the sinus infection was triggered by the spread of common disease.
If your child has nasal congestion, pressure or pain around the sinuses, a headache, and/or difficulty breathing; there’s a good chance this is related to the sinuses. If the inflammation lasts for eight weeks or more and nasal passages don’t respond to treatment, the infection is referred to as chronic sinusitis.
While the infection may occur because of contact at the schoolyard, the sinuses can be an indicator of the overall health of your child. Frequent problems with sinusitis need to be addressed by a doctor who is able to pinpoint the cause and provide treatment.
Houston Sinus & Allergy specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions and providing allergy care. Our practice is committed to helping you find long-term relief from your symptoms. Dr. Nguyen is a Board Certified ENT – Head and Neck Surgeon with extensive training & experience in diseases of the ears, nose & throat.
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