What are Sinuses

Sinuses are air cavities within the facial bones. There are four pairs of sinuses that communicate with the nose called the paranasal sinuses. They are named according to their anatomical position, the Frontal, Sphenoid, Ethmoid and Maxillary Sinuses.

The Frontal Sinus is located above the eyes.

The Sphenoid Sinus is behind the bridge of the nose.

The Ethmoid Sinus is in the upper nose.

The Maxillary Sinus is located to either side of the nose in the check bones.

What is the Purpose of the Sinuses?

The sinuses are air filled pockets in the skull. They are connected to the nose and throat by passages. Their purpose is to allow the passage of air and mucous. The mucous membrane lining the sinuses has “cilia” a microscopic hair like projection similar to the lining of the nostrils. The purpose of the cilia is to move mucous that is normally produced by the sinuses towards a tiny opening called the ostium.

When the ostium is blocked, drainage of the sinus is inadequate. Blockage maybe caused by an irritant, allergies, stress or an anatomical problem of the nose, e.g. a deviated septum. This blockage can result in infection of the sinus called sinusitis.


Sinusitis is the most common reason for primary care visits. It affects 30 -50 million Americans at a health care cost of $5.8 billion per year. According to Dr. Raymond G. Slavin, Allergist and Immunologist, Internal Medicine Specialist, St. Louis University School of Medicine,”85% of sinus infections are caused by a virus.” Some are caused by bacteria. Sinusitis may be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis lasts for 2 – 4 weeks. While chronic sinusitis is ongoing. Sinus infections are not contagious.

Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis.



Cranial pressure



Head congestion

Stuffy nose with difficulty breathing through the nose and loss of the sense of smell.

Mucous discharge from the nose

Post nasal drip

Low grade fever

Diagnosis and Treatment

A medical history will be taken and physical examination will be done by your physician. Antibiotics, a decongestant and/or a nasal spray and pain medications will be prescribed.

If the condition does not improve further examination will be done such as, looking in the nose with an endoscope, doing a CT Scan or an MRI.

In some patients with chronic sinusitis that does not respond to the medical treatment, you may be recommended to see an Otolaryngologist (Ear Nose and Throat Specialist)

for surgery. The procedure is called a Caldwell Luc. The purpose of the procedure is to open the natural opening of the ostium from the sinus into the nose to provide adequate drainage.

Tips to help in the Prevention of Sinus Infections.

Hand washing is one of the easiest method of avoiding infections.

Drink plenty of fluids this will help in loosening up the flow of the mucous drainage in the sinuses.

A humidifier is helpful to moisten the dry air in the home.

Use an electrostatic filter in the air-conditioner/heater to remove allergens in the home.

Living a healthy life style and avoiding stress is another away to prevent becoming one of the 30- 50 million people in the USA who gets sinusitis annually.