Young child playing with toys

Common Sinus and Nasal Conditions in Children

When it comes to the sinuses, there are many different problems that could be occurring—so knowing when to seek care is important. We recommend for children who have nasal congestion consistent with a routine sinus infection to visit their primary care doctor. If they have constant sinus infections, sinus pressure, nasal obstruction, smell loss, or bleeding, it may be necessary for them to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. To make an appointment, you may email Dr. Christopher Hartnick, request one online, or call us at 617-573-3190.

Some of the most common problems we see include:


Sinus disease (rhinosinusitis or commonly known as sinusitis) is caused by inflammation of the sinuses and the nose. It is very common in children, yet managing it can be difficult. Our physicians work closely with the pediatric allergists and pulmonologists at Mass General to develop comprehensive plans for such children. 

Acute rhinosinusitis is typically caused by a virus and lasts 7 to 14 days. In many patients, acute rhinosinusitis recurs one to two times per year. This becomes chronic when symptoms persist throughout and beyond a three-month period. 

Children can develop significant complications from sinusitis such as sub-periosteal abscesses and orbital abscesses. Left untreated, these can lead to vision loss and meningitis. Our service employs the latest technologies such as image guided tracking systems and balloon sinoplasty technology to provide the safest and least invasive surgeries for children with acute/chronic sinusitis.

The best way to avoid chronic sinus disease is to promote good sinus hygiene and we have clear protocols to help with this.

Nasal Masses

For children with encephaloceles, dermoids, and other nasal masses, we work closely with our neurosurgical and skull base colleagues at Mass General to safely care for them and provide the best outcomes possible.

Nasal Tumors

Although rare, pediatric sinonasal and anterior skull base tumors can be life-threatening conditions. Working closely with both the pediatric oncologists and radiation oncologists at Mass General, we care for children afflicted with tumors such as sarcomas, juvenile angiofibromas, and esthesioneuroblastomas. By employing state-of-the-art surgical techniques, such as endoscopic skull base procedures aided by image guided tracking systems, we offer the highest possible quality of care to our patients in order to find them successful treatments for their conditions.

Congenital Anomalies

Specific cohorts of children with underlying conditions such as cystic fibrosis (CF), primary ciliary dyskinesias (PCD), and immunodeficiencies experience sinusitis at a higher rate than other children. Good sinus care is vital to the overall health of these patients as the sinuses can be reservoir of bacteria that can lead to worsening lung infections, especially for CF patients.

Our team works closely with the Cystic Fibrosis Center as well as the pediatric immunologists and infectious disease specialists at Mass General to care for such children. 

We also have ongoing clinical research trials and protocols to care for such affected children and to coordinate their sinus care with their pulmonary and overall care.