Allergy and sinus conditions are common in children, whose sinuses continue to develop well into the teen years. Pediatric allergy and sinus symptoms are similar, making a proper diagnosis a bit challenging. Symptoms of allergy and sinus conditions include runny nose, sneezing, stuffiness, coughing, sore throat, wheezing, headaches, snoring and itchy eyes and nose.
When are allergies to blame?
When allergies are to blame, the immune system responds to a perceived threat by flooding the bloodstream with chemicals called histamines, which attack the offending substance but cause inflammation and swelling of the airways in the process. Common allergy triggers include pollen, mold, animal dander, dust mites, chemicals, medications and certain foods.
Pediatric sinusitis is usually the result of cold viruses and may be aggravated by allergies. It can be either acute or chronic (lasting longer than 12 weeks and/or recurring frequently). Distinguishing whether your child’s symptoms are the result of allergies or a sinus condition is the key to successful treatment.
In addition to a physical examination, your child’s doctor will carefully inspect the ears, nose and throat for signs of infection. Skin and blood tests will likely be administered to determine whether an allergen trigger is responsible.
What happens next?
When your child is diagnosed with allergies and avoiding the allergen trigger isn’t possible, treatment consists of a variety of medications. These include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroid sprays, eye drops and prescription drugs. Severe cases that don’t respond to medical treatment may require immunotherapy, usually delivered through weekly shots or drops. This enables the body to build up a tolerance to the allergen over time, bringing long-term symptom relief.
Sinusitis can be treated with home remedies (e.g. warm compresses, drinking lots of liquids, using a humidifier to moisten dry air, etc.) and medications to relieve symptoms. Chronic cases may require surgery.