Paediatric Sinusitis – Part 1 (What is Paediatric Sinusitis?)

What is Paediatric Sinusitis?

tPaeBabies are born with no immune system and it is only though the mothers breast milk that some immunity is acquired. As a baby grows and develops into a child he/she begins to slowly develop his/her immune system.

As ones immune system is not developed before the first several years of one’s life, it makes it easier for viruses, bacteria and other harmful agents to wreak havoc on a child system. Children are most susceptible to developing infections in the sinus cavities, nose and ear regions.

Paediatric sinusitis occurs when a child develops sinusitis after a normal cold or flu. Should this sinusitis persist, it can develop into chronic sinusitis. Physicians and otolaryngologists are often consulted to treat not only sinusitis but also help with associated symptoms. Antibiotics are usually the recommended treatment for paediatric sinusitis.

Children, like adults have 4 paired sinus cavities, the maxillary, sphenoid, ethmoid and frontal sinus cavities. At birth children have their ethmoid and maxillary sinus cavities and as they grow, the sphenoid and frontal sinus cavities develop. This occurs around the ages of 5 and 7. A child’s sinus cavities are smaller in size and have smaller openings through which mucus can drain. It is also more common for children to develop sinusitis in their ethmoid and maxillary sinus cavities.

There are three distinctions that differentiate levels of sinusitis in children:

  1. Acute Sinusitis occurs when one or more of the sinus cavities become infected and inflamed.
  2. Chronic Sinusitis occurs when the condition has persisted for longer than two months.
  3. Recurrent Sinusitis occurs when a child keeps developing sinusitis over a period a time with medical treatment providing only temporary relief.

The development of chronic sinusitis can often be a result of an immunodeficiency in a child, cystic fibrosis, an allergy such as hayfever or allergic rhinitis or even a syndrome whereby the cilia’s functioning is impaired called Immotile Cilia Syndrome.

What makes it so difficult to effectively treat bacterial sinusitis is that if a child is given antibiotics too frequently his or her body can build up a resistance to antibiotics. Frequent antibiotic use can also result in unwanted negative effects on a young child’s development.

Please be aware: Any cold or flu like symptoms that your child has and that persist over a period of 10-14 days are not always caused by a sinus infection as these can also be related to a common cold or flu.

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