What Are Sinuses? (Sinus Anatomy)

What Are Sinuses? (Sinus Anatomy)

You’ve probably heard the term “sinuses” before, and you’re probably aware of their location, as well as some of their basic functions. Nevertheless, the team at AOC Physicians wants to take this opportunity to go over the anatomy and purpose of a person’s sinuses. Especially since many patients have come into our offices complaining of headaches, pressure, and pain in the middle of their face, jaw, and temples.

These symptoms could indicate a number of conditions, but they’re also common with sinusitis, an ailment that causes inflammation to the sinuses. Sinusitis can develop from seasonal and chronic allergies, colds, the flu, smoking, a deviated septum, and much, much more. Having said that, it’s important patients understand what the sinuses are, how they work, and what to do if they ever become inflamed or infected. First, let’s start with their anatomy.

Sinus Anatomy

Sinuses are hollow air cavities in your skull and facial bones that are lined with a soft tissue called mucosa. Experts are still unsure of the exact function of sinuses, but many speculate they help humidify and filter the air we breathe. Other theories involve our voices and sense of smell. Regardless, most people are equipped with eight total sinus cavities in their face:

  • Forehead (two sinus cavities)
  • Cheekbones (two sinus cavities behind each cheekbone)
  • Between the eyes (two sinus cavities between the eyes)
  • Behind the eyes (two sinus cavities behind each eye)

We say “most” people because about 10% of the world’s population has an extra sinus. It’s also possible for patients to have narrower sinuses, resulting in improper nasal drainage. An extra sinus, narrow sinuses, and sinus sensitivity can all increase a person’s risk of developing sinusitis. If you develop the condition, there are a few symptoms you may experience, including:

  • Headache
  • Pressure/fullness in the middle of the face
  • Pain behind the eyes, around the jaw, and near the ears
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose, loss of smell
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat

More often than not, sinusitis will go away on its own. If symptoms last for more than 7 days, it is recommended that patients see their ENT doctor to receive medical care, especially if this is the third or fourth time this condition has occurred. Chronic sinusitis, while unpleasant, can have a major impact on your immune system, so it’s important patients get this condition remedied as soon as possible. In addition to sinusitis, patients may also suffer from other sinus-related conditions, such as:

  • Allergic rhinitis (Hay fever)
  • Nasal polyps
  • Turbinate hypertrophy
  • And more

Schedule an appointment with the team at AOC Physicians today if you begin to experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms or conditions.

Arizona Otolaryngology Consultants (AOC) is a comprehensive ENT clinic that provides care for all diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and sinuses. The physicians at AOC have the highest level of training and expertise in ENT care and ENT subspecialty care, which includes the management of pediatric airway, cancer, skull base surgery, advanced head and neck surgical and reconstructive procedures, craniofacial surgery and more. Call 602-264-4834 to request an appointment today!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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