Sinusitis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The sinuses

Sinusitis is an infection of the lining of the sinus cavities in your child's head. Sinusitis often follows a cold and causes pain and pressure in the head and face.

In most cases, sinusitis gets better on its own in 1 to 2 weeks. But some mild symptoms may last for several weeks. Sometimes antibiotics are needed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever, pain, or fussiness. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be careful with cough and cold medicines. Don't give them to children younger than 6, because they don't work for children that age and can even be harmful. For children 6 and older, always follow all the instructions carefully. Make sure you know how much medicine to give and how long to use it. And use the dosing device if one is included.
  • Be careful when giving your child over-the-counter cold or flu medicines and Tylenol at the same time. Many of these medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Read the labels to make sure that you are not giving your child more than the recommended dose. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Make sure your child rests. Keep your child home if he or she has a fever.
  • If your child has problems breathing because of a stuffy nose, squirt a few saline (saltwater) nasal drops in one nostril. For older children, have your child blow his or her nose. Repeat for the other nostril. For infants, put a drop or two in one nostril. Using a soft rubber suction bulb, squeeze air out of the bulb, and gently place the tip of the bulb inside the baby's nose. Relax your hand to suck the mucus from the nose. Repeat in the other nostril.
  • Place a humidifier by your child's bed or close to your child. This may make it easier for your child to breathe. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Put a hot, wet towel or a warm gel pack on your child's face 3 or 4 times a day for 5 to 10 minutes each time. Always check the pack to make sure it is not too hot before you place it on your child's face.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house.
  • Ask your doctor about using nasal sprays, decongestants, or antihistamines.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse swelling or redness in the face or around the eyes.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has new or worse facial pain.
  • The mucus from your child's nose becomes thicker (like pus) or has new blood in it.
  • Your child is not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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