Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Kids
Uh-oh. You’re sneezing, coughing, and you have a bright red nose. You figure it’s just another cold, but this one sticks around way too long. Is it really a cold? Maybe not. It could be a problem with your sinuses.
The sinuses (say: SY-nih-siz) are air-filled spaces found in the bones of the head and face. There are four pairs of sinuses, or eight in all. They’re on either side of the nose in your cheeks, behind and between the eyes, in the forehead, and at the back of the nasal cavity.
Like the inside of the nose, the sinuses are lined with a moist, thin layer of tissue called a mucous membrane (say: MYOO-kus MEM-brayne). These help moisten the air you breathe it in. They also makes mucus, that sticky stuff in your nose you might call snot. The mucus traps dust and germs that are in the air. On the surface of the cells of the mucous membrane are microscopic hairs called cilia (say: SIL-ee-uh).
The cilia beat back and forth in waves to clear mucus from the sinuses through a narrow opening in the nose and then move the mucus toward the back of the nose to be swallowed. Gross, huh? If you have a cold or allergies, the membrane gets irritated and swollen and makes even more mucus.
What about that cold that won’t go away? A cold virus can:
When the tiny openings that drain the sinuses get blocked, mucus gets trapped in them. This makes a good home for bacteria, viruses, or fungi to grow.
If a cold lasts for more than 10 to 14 days (sometimes you may have a low-grade fever), you may have sinusitis (say: syne-yuh-SY-tis). This means an infection of the sinuses. Sinusitis is a pretty common infection; in fact, millions of people in the United States have sinusitis each year.
Doctors call sinusitis
when a cold lasts more than 10 to 14 days. It’s called
sinusitis when a person has symptoms for more than 3 months.
In either case, a kid might have:
Less often, a kid could have headache or pain behind the eyes, forehead, and cheeks.
If you might have a sinus infection, your doctor will probably check your ears and throat and take a look in your nose. The doctor may also check your sinuses by tapping or pressing on your forehead and cheeks.
If you have a sinus infection, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. If bacteria are causing the problem, an antibiotic will help by killing the bacteria. If it’s a virus, antibiotic medicine won’t work.
In the case of a bacterial infection, the antibiotic should help you feel better in a few days. A decongestant or nasal spray might also be prescribed to help you feel better. If the sinus infection is chronic, the doctor may have you take medicine for a couple of weeks, just to be sure all the bacteria are knocked out.
Sometimes, if a sinus infection is not getting better, comes back even after you take all your medicine, or if the doctor is thinking about doing surgery, he or she might send you to have a CT scan of the sinuses. The CT scan is a special X-ray that takes a picture of your insides. It doesn’t hurt, and it makes it much easier for the doctor to see what’s going on. Your doctor can clearly see what the sinuses look like and then decide what kind of treatment will help you get better faster.
The good news about sinusitis is that it’s not
. So if you feel well enough, you can go to school or go outside and play. In no time, you’ll be over your infection — and you’ll be saying so long to sinusitis!
Just what are adenoids? And why do kids sometimes have to get their adenoids removed? Get the answers here.
During an allergic reaction, your body’s immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.
If you just sneezed, something was probably irritating or tickling the inside of your nose. Learn more about why you sneeze in this article for kids.
Are you a kid who snores? Find out why some people are such noisy sleepers in this article for kids.
When you go to the doctor for a checkup, it’s because your parents and your doctor want to see that you’re growing just the way you should. Read all about what happens at the doctor’s office.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.