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Sinus Infections in Children

Types of Sinusitis in Children

There are a couple of different types of sinusitis. Each type is based on how long symptoms last and what has caused the condition.
Different types of sinusitis include:
  • Acute sinusitis: Diagnosed when symptoms have lasted for fewer than four weeks. There are two different subtypes:
    • Acute viral sinusitis, which is caused by a virus
    • Acute bacterial sinusitis, which is caused by bacteria.
  • Subacute sinusitis: Symptoms lasting for 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic sinusitis: Symptoms lasting 12 weeks or longer, despite medical treatment.
  • Recurrent sinusitis: More than three episodes of acute sinusitis separated by at least 10 days of no symptoms in a six-month period; or more than four episodes of acute sinusitis separated by at least 10 days of no symptoms in a 12-month period.

Risk Factors for Sinus Infections in Children

Because the nose and sinuses are connected, anything that causes swelling in the nose -- an infection, an allergic reaction, or another type of immune reaction -- can also affect the sinuses. This increases the risk for sinusitis.
A viral upper respiratory infection is the most common reason why a child gets a sinus infection. Other things that increase the risk for sinus infections in children include:
  • Allergies (hay fever, seasonal allergies, year-round allergies)
  • An obstruction in the nose, such as a polyp or deviated septum
  • Infection of the ear or throat
  • Irritants such as dry air, tobacco smoke, or chlorine
  • Certain medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and HIV/AIDS
  • Sudden changes in pressure, such as a descent in an airplane.
Children in daycare are also more likely to get sinus infections.
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