Chronic Sinusitis in Children

What is chronic sinusitis in children?

Chronic sinusitis presentation in children is very different from that in adults. Chronic sinusitis is sinusitis persisting for more than 12 weeks, i.e. three months. These patients should be under the care of an ENT surgeon. They get temporary relief from using prescribed medicines or complete relief, but symptoms recur once the medication is stopped.

The sinuses are air pockets in the skull around the nose and eyes. There are five pairs of sinuses – Maxillary (behind cheeks), Frontal (behind the forehead), Anterior and posterior ethmoids (between eyes in the front and back), Sphenoids (back part of the head just above the pharynx). The sinuses below the eyes (Maxillary sinuses) and the sinuses between the eyes (ethmoid sinuses) develop as early as birth. They slowly enlarge and reach the adult size by mid to late teens.

These sinuses produce a thin slimy fluid called mucus 24×7, and this keeps getting cleared to the back of the nose. Mucus can get trapped within the sinuses because of various reasons we will discuss a little later. This trapped mucus that cannot drain out of the sinuses forms a suitable nutritional medium for the bacteria to grow in. Once the bacteria starts growing in the mucus, the mucus turns into pus, producing chronic sinusitis symptoms.

What Causes Chronic Sinusitis in Children?

Chronic sinusitis in child, in general, are susceptible to common cold and sinusitis. The most common causes of sinusitis are infections with bacteria, viruses and allergies. The infections and allergies cause inflammation and swelling of the mucosal skin lining of the nose and sinuses. This mucosal lining swelling blocks the sinus drainage openings and sinus drainage pathways, causing accumulation of mucus, a thin slimy fluid produced 24×7 inside the sinuses. This accumulated mucus forms a suitable nutritional medium for the bacteria to grow in. Once bacteria grow, the mucus turns into pus producing chronic sinusitis symptoms. This mechanism of chronic sinusitis occurs similar to that in adults, but the symptom presentation is different in children.