Sinuses: What Are They, Why Do You Have Them, and How Can You Take Care of Them?

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Many people suffer from sinus infections, but you may have questions about what sinuses are and why you have them. Most importantly, how do you take care of them to keep those infections at bay?  

What Are Sinuses?

Your sinuses are hollowed-out cavities in your skull that are all interconnected. You have four sinus cavities: 

  • The maxillary sinuses, which are located in your cheekbones 
  • The ethmoid sinuses, which are found between your eyes 
  • The sphenoid sinuses, which rest behind your nose 
  • The frontal sinuses, which are found behind the bridges of your brows 

  
Each of these sinuses is lined with soft tissue called mucosa. According to Advil, your sinuses drain through the “middle meatus,” a small pathway that leads from your sinus cavities to your nose. When your sinuses are working as intended, they will be filled only with air and a small amount of mucus. 

What Roles Do They Play?

Not much is known about why we have sinuses, but experts have several theories. As we breathe in, they add humidity to the air. They can also aid in speech. 

The sinuses can also help protect your nose. When they drain into your nasal cavity, the mucus keeps your nose moist and sweeps away bacteria and dust.

While the positive effects of sinuses are not well-known, many people have experienced distressing problems with their sinus cavities. According to Crossroads, sinus infections often cause people to experience a level of misery on par with other chronic conditions, and chronic conditions can severely harm quality of life in many individuals. 

Common Conditions That Affect the Sinuses

Several conditions can affect the sinuses. According to Pacific Neuroscience Institute, conditions such as a deviated septum and turbinate hypertrophy can block airflow to the sinuses by affecting the location and size of the septum. The septum is the cartilage that runs through the center of the nose, separating the nostrils.

Hay fever, an allergic reaction to airborne allergens, like pollen and pet dander, can cause the sinuses to overreact, resulting in itching and sneezing.

The most well-known condition that affects the sinuses is a sinus infection, which can be acute, lasting up to four weeks, or chronic, lasting several weeks or longer. According to Dr. Douglas Dedo, sinus infections, also known as sinusitis, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, environmental pollutants and smoking. 

Analgesic medications and hot towel therapy often provide sinus relief. To prevent sinus infections, promote drainage. Stay hydrated, and keep your nose moist with nasal saline sprays. Breathe in steam throughout the day, and avoid smoke and pollution. 

While sinus problems are distressing, there are ways you can work to prevent infections and find relief when they strike. Properly functioning sinuses drain into your nose, so remember to promote drainage and avoid potential irritants to manage and prevent sinus problems.

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