“The doctor says it is sinusitis, can you believe it?” My sister said over the phone. Her five year old had been suffering from constant headaches and frequent cough and cold. Attributing the cause to other factors, it had taken a good six months to finally nail the problem. But for us, sinusitis was a condition that adults suffered from, and kids did not. So it came as a surprise to all of us in the family, that even children could suffer from sinusitis. And even more surprising was the sinusitis treatment.
It is important to understand what is sinusitis and how do children develop it.
Sinuses are the air-filled hollows in the skull. They are located behind the eyes, nasal bones, cheeks and forehead. Till the time there are no bacteria or other germs and mucus can drain out, the sinuses are healthy. But when these get blocked with mucus, the air is not able to flow through the sinuses, and the tissue lining inside becomes swollen and inflamed. Sinusitis can be caused by either a bacterial, viral or fungal infection.
Sinusitis is of two types:
1. Acute: When sinusitis symptoms are there for about four weeks or less caused by a bacterial infection in the sinuses.
2. Chronic: The sinusitis symptoms can be seen for a longer time, i.e. more than three months, than it has become a chronic problem. It is caused by either a bacterial or fungal infection.
Dr. Maria Kapasi, the founder of Health N Harmony Positive Health Clinic, says sinusitis is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. So infants generally do not have sinusitis. But in children, recurrent upper respiratory tract infections are very common and their immunity is relatively low. She cites the following reasons for the occurrence of sinusitis in children.
What causes Sinusitis?
1. Recurrent cold and allergies
Children are very much prone to cough and cold and upper respiratory tract infections because of small airway passage, lack of immunity, compromised personal hygiene, underdeveloped eating habits. The recurrent and frequent bouts of cough and cold in children can remain untreatable. So every time there is a cold, the mucus accumulates in the sinus hollows.
2. Small hair in the sinuses
Sometimes the nasal hair can obstruct the proper movement of the mucus to the outside. This could be because of some medical conditions.
3. Nasal conditions
A nasal bone spur, nasal polyps (another common problem in children these days) or a deviated nasal septum can also block the opening of the sinuses, trapping the mucus inside.
So if your child has any or some of the following symptoms, it is better to check for sinusitis. A prolonged cold lasting for more than two weeks.
Symptoms of sinusitis in children:
1. A low-grade fever, sometimes the temperature can be higher as well
2. A thick yellow-green nasal discharge for three days in continuation
4. Swelling around the eyes
7. Bad breath
8. Postnasal drip with sore throat, cough and nausea
When it comes to the treatment of sinusitis, Dr. Charu Kalra says chronic sinusitis cannot be treated with antibiotics. After a culture of the mucus taken from the affected areas is taken, antibiotics can be given to treat acute sinusitis. But if antibiotics are given in resistant cases and the course is not completed properly, it can lead to severe pus collection in the sinuses and will require FESS, surgical draining of the sinuses.
Dr. Maria says the only treatment for sinusitis is emptying the mucus-filled hollows and not letting it get filled up again. And to keep the sinuses mucus free, one needs to be extra cautious. Whenever the child has a cough and cold, don’t take it lightly. Work a lot in developing the child’s immunity. Intake of different types of bitter food helps in controlling cough and cold. Intake of Vitamin C in different forms helps in building immunity towards respiratory illnesses. But if the little one has somehow developed sinusitis, she recommends simple home remedies.
Simple Ayurveda home remedies for a permanent sinus treatment:
1. Steam or a hot shower
The mucus in the sinus hollow dries up. It needs to be converted into a liquid state to empty it through the mouth via the throat. When the sinus has become chronic, there will always be a slight sore throat and dripping, because the cough that has accumulated in the facial sinus, dripples at the back, down the throat.
Steam helps here. Taking direct steam is more effective, but if the child is unable to do so, then a hot shower or a warm towel around the face also helps. But the biggest mistake that parents tend to do is giving steam only for the 4-5 days when the problem is visible. She recommends making steam a part of daily routine to uproot the problem permanently.
2. Inhaling vapors of essential oil
Vapors of certain essential oil help in cleaning and soothing the airway passage. Tulsi, eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor – any of these can be added to the steam. This will not only help in keeping the respiratory tract clean but will also reduce the bacterial and viral load; a must these days due to the Coronavirus pandemic as well. Eucalyptus oil is very good to treat all sorts of stuffiness, not only sinusitis but even in cold. For kids, eucalyptus oil can be taken in a handkerchief and we can let them inhale from it, or dab it around their pillows for them to inhale from.
Nasal wash/nasal irrigation. The sterilized salt water solution is put into the nostril from one side and taken out from the other side, to force out the germs and open the mucus-filled nostrils from the sinus passageway. Though considered the best treatment for sinusitis, most kids find it too uncomfortable.
3. Immunity boosting foods
A healthy varied diet is important for children as the little ones are fussy eaters. They tend to take food in very small quantities, so the food that they eat should be given in the highest concentration. Amla and guavas have the highest concentration of Vitamin C. Greens also works as immunity boosters, so including green leafy vegetables is a must. A glass of warm turmeric milk a day also helps in keeping the body healthy and disease-free.
Sinusitis might feel like a really big problem, but if these small measures at home are taken consistently, sinus will become a bad dream very soon.
by Tasneem Dhinojwala