Page header image

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 hay fever. Your child may feel fullness, pressure, or pain in the face around the nose. The pain may also be above the eyebrow, behind the eye, 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 in your child's nose. (You can get saline nose drops at the drug store. Never use a glass dropper for nose drops.) Use a rounded suction bulb. Gently suction out mucus from your child's nose.

    Suction mucus at least 4 times a day or whenever your child cannot breathe through the nose.

  • 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 6 unless your doctor tells you to. If your child is age 6 or over, use 1 drop or spray per side. Do the drops two times a day. 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 an ice pack on the sinus for 20 minutes may also help with pain.

    Keep giving the medicine when there is pain until your child's nose clears up.

  • 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 and discharge gets yellow or green and stays that way for more than 3 days with sinus pain.
  • Nose discharge of any kind persists for more than 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2005-03-17
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
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 healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
Page footer image