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Pediatric Asthma: Sinusitis


Sinuses are part of the upper respiratory system. Very young children have sinus passages rather than fully formed sinuses. Older children have four groups of sinus cavities located within the bone of the skull.

Many children with asthma also have chronic sinusitis. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucus membranes that line the sinus cavities. This can interfere with normal sinus drainage and cause increased mucus production. The drainage from the nose and sinuses is known as postnasal drip. Sinusitis can make asthma worse, especially at night. A sinus infection can also significantly worsen your child’s asthma. This is one type of upper respiratory infection that may need treatment with an antibiotic.

Actions You Can Take

  • Sinus care is an important part of an overall management plan for many children with asthma. Treating the inflammation and decreasing the post-nasal drip can reduce cough and throat irritation, decreasing asthma symptoms.
  • Sinus Care Often Includes
  • Nasal wash — A salt water or nasal saline wash helps remove mucus and bacteria from the nose and sinuses. When done routinely, this can also decrease post-nasal drip. The nasal wash should be done before using a steroid nasal spray.
  • Steroid nasal spray — This helps to decrease irritation and inflammation in the nasal and sinus passages, so mucus production and swelling decrease.
  • Antibiotics — An antibiotic may be recommended if a bacterial infection is present. You will see an increased amount of thick, colored mucus (yellow, green or brown) with either a viral or bacterial infection. A long course of antibiotics (two to three weeks) is usually required if your doctor determines a bacterial infection is present.
More Sinusitis Information
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At National Jewish Health, we offer a range of treatment programs to meet the specific needs of patients with mild to severe asthma.

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