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Q: How can I tell if my child has sinusitis and not a cold?

Posted January 15, 2014 in Advice Column, Ankeny

A: A child’s cold often leads to sinusitis which is an inflammation of the lining of the nose and sinuses. Sinusitis is either viral or bacterial. Viral sinusitis usually accompanies a cold, while bacterial sinusitis can occur after a cold due to bacteria being trapped in the sinuses.

Signs of a cold and viral sinusitis include: The cold lasts between five and 10 days. At the start of the cold, nasal secretions are clear and watery, but turn thicker and white, yellow or green and back to clear and watery.  Your child has a cough which gets worse at night. A low grade fever is present during the first couple of days. Symptoms peak at around day four and are gone within 10 days.

These signs indicate bacterial sinusitis: Symptoms last more than 10 days without improvement. Nasal secretions are thicker and yellower with a fever that lasts three to four consecutive days. Your child complains of a severe headache. You see swelling and dark circles around your child’s eyes in the morning. Your child’s breath may smell bad for no explainable reason.

If you child shows any of the following signs you should call your child’s doctor: swelling or redness around the eyes that lasts all day, severe headaches and/or pain in the back of the neck, persistent vomiting or light sensitivity.

Be sure to call your child’s pediatrician whenever you have questions about your child’s health.

Information provided by Jennifer Meurer, PharmD, Medicap Pharmacy, 107 N.E. Delaware, Suite 6, Ankeny, (515) 964-8550.

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