Childhood allergies aren't just uncomfortable; they can also lead to a variety of health complications. If your child frequently has a stuffed up nose due to allergies, they may develop complications like sinusitis. Here are four things parents need to know about allergies and sinusitis.
What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis refers to either inflammation or infection of the sinuses, which are the air-filled spaces within the skull that surround the nose. Some of the symptoms of sinusitis are similar to the symptoms of allergies, like a stuffed-up nose, sore throat or cough.
However, additional symptoms can help you distinguish these two conditions. If your child has sinusitis, they may complain that their face hurts or that they feel pressure in their ears or around their teeth. You may also notice that their face is swollen.
How do allergies cause it?
When your child is exposed to allergens like pollen or pet dander, the mucous membranes inside their nose become inflamed. This inflammation, known as allergic rhinitis, is why they develop a stuffy nose. However, this inflammation does more than just block their nose and lead to discomfort. The inflammation can also block the sinuses and prevent them from draining.
When the sinuses are blocked, the mucus that is produced within the sinuses has nowhere to go. This trapped mucus can then get infected, resulting in sinusitis. This is why it's important to make sure your child's allergic rhinitis is under control. It doesn't just make it easier for them to breathe through their nose; it helps to prevent complications like sinusitis.
How is sinusitis treated?
Your child's allergist will perform a sinus culture to determine which bacteria, if any, are responsible for the sinusitis. If bacteria are present, antibiotics can be used to get rid of them. If your child's case of sinusitis is determined to be non-infectious, antibiotics won't help and won't be given.
Symptomatic treatments like topical decongestants can be used to help the sinuses drain. Steroids can also be used to get the inflammation under control.
It's also important to control your child's allergies to prevent further episodes of sinusitis. Their allergist may prescribe medications like antihistamines or cromolyn to keep their nasal membranes from becoming inflamed. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may also be recommended for long-term relief.
If your child suffers from allergies, they could be at risk of sinusitis. Take your child to an allergist right away to get their allergies under control. An allergist like those at the Asthma and Allergy Clinic may be able to help.