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Sinus Congestion: Brief Version


What is sinus congestion?

Your child may have a runny nose that is blocked with mucus. This is sinus congestion. Most of the time it comes with colds or nasal allergies. Your child may feel fullness, pressure, or pain in the face around the nose. The pain may also be above the eyebrow, between the eyes, or over the check bone.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Give 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.

  • Use decongestant nose drops or spray.

    If your child's sinuses are still blocked, use decongestant nose drops or sprays. Do not use decongestant nose drops for children under age 12 unless your doctor tells you to. If your child is age 12 or over, use 2 drops or sprays per side. Do this two times a day.

    Have your child use the nose drops for the first 2 or 3 days.

    Do not use decongestant drops or sprays for more than 5 days. When you use the drops longer than that, it can cause more problems.

  • Give pain medicine.

    Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to stop pain. No aspirin. Putting a cold pack on the sinus for 20 minutes may also help with pain.

  • Use antihistamines.

    If your child also has hay fever, give the allergy medicines your doctor thinks best.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

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

Call your doctor during office hours if:

  • The pain lasts more than 1 day after your child gets treated.
  • The sinus congestion and fullness goes on for more than 1 week.
  • Your child has a fever for more than 3 days.
  • Nose mucus gets yellow or green and stays that way for more than 3 days with sinus pain.
  • Nose discharge of any kind lasts for more than 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-08-13
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

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 health care professional.

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