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Sinusitis can be agonizing. The pain, pressure, and feelings of suffocation make it hard to function, let alone sleep and heal. It can occur because of illness or allergies, and roughly 35 million Americans struggle with it at least once a year– but how young can you get sinusitis?
Sinusitis In Children
It’s often joked that very young children are like petri dishes when it comes to getting illnesses. They explore the world partially by handling objects and putting them in their mouths, and their still-developing immune systems haven’t had as much practice as an adult’s has at warding off sickness. Though a person’s sinuses aren’t fully developed until they reach their teens, babies are born with small maxilliary and ethmoid sinuses.
While the size of these sinuses makes acute sinusitis relatively uncommon for very young children, it’s still possible. As a rule, if cold symptoms haven’t subsided after a period of a week or so, the child may have acute sinusitis. If the symptoms last longer than 3 weeks, they likely have chronic sinusitis.
Between 5-10% of children with an upper respiratory tract infection will develop acute sinusitis. Even fewer will then progress to chronic sinusitis.
Sinusitis In Adults
Sinusitis is much more common for people over the age of eighteen, since they have larger, fully-developed sinuses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12% of adults are diagnosed with sinusitis. In adults, symptoms usually consist of post nasal drip, headache, stuffy or runny nose, cough, or toothache. Facial redness, swelling, or puffy eyes may also be present.
Sinusitis By Gender
Both men and women are equally likely to develop sinusitis, but the odds go up for people who have nasal polyps, structural abnormalities, or an impaired ability to fight off infections.
Sinusitis is painful and annoying, and can sometimes signal a dangerous bacterial infection that shouldn’t go untreated. The symptoms often vague and difficult to pinpoint in young children and non-verbal adults. Fortunately, medications to reduce swelling in the nasal passages, calm allergies, and kill bacterial infections make the condition treatable for adults and children alike. If medication doesn’t work, sugery is frequently the only cure.