I am often surprised by the number of patients who come to me armed with troves of knowledge about various sinus treatments, and almost no knowledge about what sinuses actually are. Even the most well-read patients get confused when it comes to the physical reality of these structures. Are they located in the face? Are your sinuses filled with air, fluid, or are they solid tissue? And why do they hurt so much when things go wrong?
Let’s start with a simple illustration:
Your sinuses are hollow spaces, filled with air, and lined with mucus. They are located behind your face and forehead, and they come in four pairs: maxillary, ethmoid, frontal, and sphenoid. They have bilateral symmetry like your eyes and ears, and they are all connected to your nasal cavity through little openings called ostium.
Okay, but what are they doing there? The primary function of sinuses is to scrub and warm the air you breathe, catching pathogens, allergens, and particulates in their mucosa linings. Other possible uses include making your voice more resonant, lightening your skull, and acting as a sort of “crumple zone” for frontal head traumas.
Problems arise when your sinuses become blocked, either by infection or an anatomical occlusion. When those openings are obstructed, your sinuses can build up more and more mucus, leading to the possibility of a serious bacterial infection. Colds, allergies, polyps, and other illnesses can disrupt the natural drainage of your sinuses in this way. In serious cases of sinusitis, the infection can then amplify the original blockage, leading to a spreading bacterial population which can be dangerous if left untreated.
Proper sinus care often requires the help of a sinus doctor. If your sinuses are blocked, painful, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it is time to contact a sinus expert. Feel free to get in touch with my Los Angeles sinus surgery center today for a consultation.