Sinus Infection: Brief Version

What is a sinus infection?

Bacteria cause sinus infections. Your child may have a sinus infection when there is:

  • Swelling of the skin on the face.
  • Fever that lasts more than 3 days or starts several days after your child gets a cold.
  • Face pain.
  • Yellow/green discharge from the nose that lasts more than 14 days.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Your child needs an antibiotic.

    Give your child the medicine ordered by your doctor. This medicine will kill the germs that cause the infection.

  • Give your child nasal washes.

    Put several drops of warm water or saline nose drops or spray in your child's nose. You can get saline nose drops at the drug store. You can use a suction bulb to gently suction out mucus from your child's nose. Suction mucus at least 4 times a day or any time your child cannot breathe through the nose. If your child is old enough, he can blow his nose instead of using a suction bulb.

  • You can use decongestant nose drops or spray.

    If your child's sinuses are still blocked, use decongestant nose drops or sprays. Do not use such nose drops with children under age 12 unless your doctor tells you to do so.

    Have your child use the nose drops for the first 2 or 3 days. Do not use these drops or sprays for more than 5 days. When you use these drops longer than 5 days, it can cause more problems.

  • Give pain medicine.

    Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for fever over 102°F (39°C) or to stop pain. No aspirin.

  • Use antihistamines.

    If your child also has hay fever, give him allergy medicine.

  • Fluids

    Make sure your child drinks a lot. This helps thin the mucus.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child's cheeks, eyelids, or forehead are red or swollen.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The fever or pain is not gone 48 hours after your child starts to take the medicine.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick”, American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-06-07
Last reviewed: 2011-06-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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