How to Survive a Sinus Infection (for Babies, Toddlers, Older Kids, & Adults)
Updated: Mar 5, 2022
Spring is coming, and so is all of the pollen that comes along with it. Here are some tips for surviving and even shortening the duration of an annual sinus infection.
Sinus infections are the absolute worst. We live in the coastal Southeast, so pollen season is quick to arrive and cause plenty of havoc for our family each year. Here are some tips and recommendations (for all age groups in your family) to help lessen the unpleasant symptoms of a sinus infection and reduce the duration as much as possible.
What is a Sinus Infection?
Sinus infections are typically caused by airborne irritants (pollen, secondhand smoke, chemicals, allergens, etc.) or by certain viruses. When these viruses or irritants come into contact with one's sinuses, they cause inflammation that can lead to the following symptoms:
congestion in the nose, face, and eye areas
drainage that may lead to a sore throat and coughing
facial pain and headaches
green mucus (sometimes tinged with blood)
a gross taste in one's mouth
general malaise (fatigue/tiredness)
The average sinus infection will eventually fade away on its own within about 10 to 14 days. However, the discomfort from a sinus infection is usually a huge inconvenience (regardless of age) and can keep you feeling irritable, uncomfortable, and horribly under the weather for the entire duration of the sickness.
Here are a few tips and recommendations for how to manage sinus infections in your family, for everyone from the baby to older kids to parents.
How to Alleviate Symptoms of a Sinus Infection in Young Children
Having a sick baby isn't fun for anyone, and having a baby that can't breathe due to congestion, swallowing drainage and vomiting after it hits their stomach, and constantly being fussy from simply just feeling so poorly for days is the absolute worst.
Parents are very limited with little ones since they're restricted when it comes to medications and even some natural methods of alleviating sinus symptoms, but there are still quite a few ways to help your baby be more comfortable until the infection passes.
Use a humidifier in the room
Use a bulb syringe or other suction device
Ensure proper hydration/increase fluids
Avoid further air contaminants (pollen, smoke, dust, etc.)
For toddlers, you have a few additional options as well to help manage their symptoms:
Warm baths/steamy showers
Nasal saline sprays
OTC pain relievers
Diffused essential oils
It is not recommended to give any types of medications containing decongestants or other similar ingredients (like antihistamines) to children below the age of 2 due to the risk of serious and often life-threatening side effects. If your child is struggling with their symptoms or has a fever of 100.4°F or above, contact your pediatrician for further medical advice on how to safely provide care until the infection passes.
For more information on these methods, check out our post on How to Alleviate Cold and Sinus Symptoms in Toddlers and Babies.
How to Alleviate Symptoms of a Sinus Infection in Older Children
As your children get older, you have a lot more flexibility and options for safely treating symptoms of a sinus infection. You may not be able to go completely wild with OTC medications like desperate and congested adults often do, but you also have the benefit of communication and reasoning on your side, so it should be much easier to help your child find a method that works well for them until the worst of the infection passes.
Here are some of the ways you can help make your older child more comfortable:
Taking a warm/hot shower
Using a humidifier
Diffusing essential oils
Using warm compresses
Nasal saline sprays
OTC nasal sprays
Using a nasal irrigator/neti-pot
Regular nose-blowing (no more sucking up sniffles!)
Avoiding further irritants (pollen/smoke/dust/etc.)
Staying propped up instead of lying down
Using a facial steamer
OTC pain relievers
Again, if a fever is high or persistent or your child's symptoms are concerningly severe, be sure to consult your pediatrician on the best way to proceed regarding treatment.
For more information, please refer to our upcoming in-depth post on How to Alleviate Cold and Sinus Symptoms in Older Children and Teens.
How to Alleviate Symptoms of a Sinus Infection in Adults
As adults, we have enough on our plates during an average day without having to also worry about congestion, pain, and fatigue making everything 10x harder. It's essential that we get back on our feet as quickly as possible so we can continue to manage our jobs, kids, pets, and lives without being so groggy that we miss the fact that the house burned down.
Unless you have any specific health conditions that would restrict you from the use of certain medications, essential oils, or methods as listed above, the adult methods of alleviating sinus infections are the same as those for older children. We also have the added option of consuming herbal teas though, which is a personal favorite of mine. However, many teas that may be perfectly safe for adults to consume without any side effects whatsoever are not safe for growing and developing children, so this is a more natural method that's reserved solely for us older folks.
When to See a Doctor
Sinus infections are a normal part of life, and everyone tends to have one eventually. Although the most common course of action upon getting one is to simply ride it out and try to manage the symptoms to the best of your abilities, there are a few instances in which you should be sure to contact your doctor:
If your symptoms only continue to worsen
If your child has a fever of 100.4°F or higher
If medications and other methods do not alleviate your symptoms at all
If symptoms persist past 10 days with no sign of improvement
If you are getting sinus infections on a regular basis
When any of the above occur, be sure to contact your doctor or pediatrician as soon as possible.
If you do not currently have a doctor or pediatrician, we recommend using ZocDoc to narrow down search results based on insurance, location, and other factors to help you find the perfect match.