Sinuses play essential roles in our wellness, affecting your senses while helping your immune system protect you from illnesses. We’ve put together a quick guide all about the importance of your sinuses and how you can take care of them.
What Are Sinuses?
The sinuses are systems of air-filled spaces in the skull located behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheekbones, and eyes. The lower center of your forehead is the home of the frontal sinuses, and between your eyes are the ethmoid sinuses. Your cheekbones hold your most significant sinus, the maxillary sinus. Lastly, behind your nose, you have your sphenoid sinuses.
Your sinuses are lined with a soft tissue called mucosa, and when healthy, they’re empty, with only a thin layer of mucus. The inside of your nose has ridges, or turbinates, that filter the air you breathe; a thin wall, or septum, to divide your nose; and a small drainage pathway, the middle meatus.
Not all sinuses are present at birth; the frontal and sphenoid sinuses do not develop until after you’re born. Therefore, sinus conditions are less common in children.
The sinuses’ important job is to keep your body healthy and free of bacteria by creating a thin layer of mucus. The mucus continuously drains invaders such as dust, germs, and dirt out of your sinuses and throat. Your sinuses can also influence your voice quality and protect your skull from injury.
Common Sinus Conditions
Several conditions can cause sinus-related issues. Here are a few of the most common sinus conditions:
Sinus infections, or sinusitis, occurs when a virus or bacteria enter your sinuses and cause nasal congestion, a runny nose, headaches, or nasal drip. Sinus infections are much different from your regular cold because these symptoms can last over 10 days.
Most patients recover from sinusitis after 4 weeks. For some people, however, sinus infections can linger around and take a while to heal. When your sinuses are inflamed for over 12 weeks, you have a case of chronic sinusitis.
Sometimes, chronic infections happen because of a structural issue in the nose, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps, which make it difficult for your sinuses to heal and drain properly. Another reason for a chronic sinus infection is that an abnormal microorganism has infiltrated your nose.
When you have chronic sinusitis, you may have green or yellow nasal discharge, headaches, dental pain, and difficulty breathing out of one or both nostrils.
A deviated septum is a condition in which the nasal septum is off center or crooked, making it difficult for you to gain proper airflow. Some people are born with deviated septa or develop them after an injury to the nose. The most common symptoms of a deviated septum are snoring, headaches, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and facial pressure.
Usually, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) will recommend medications to relieve symptoms, but if medicine doesn’t offer remarkable results, the patient could get a septoplasty procedure. Septoplasty involves making a small incision in the septum to remove excess cartilage and even out the nostrils.
Allergens such as dust, pet hair, or pollen can trigger your sinuses and cause inflammation. Allergic sinusitis can cause itchy eyes, nose, and throat; nasal congestion; headaches; reduced sense of smell and taste; and a runny nose. Taking allergy medications and nasal sprays can quickly reduce your symptoms, which can otherwise last a couple of weeks.
How To Take Care of Your Sinuses
Your sinuses work with your immune system to ensure your body is free of bacteria and viruses. Keeping your body healthy and taking steps to preventing future discomfort are essential. Here are a few ways you can take care of your sinuses:
Drink Lots of Water
Stay hydrated to keep your sinuses moist and happy. If you’re sick or experiencing a sinus infection, drink plenty of water to loosen the mucus and relieve congestion. If you live in a drier climate or if your home has dry air due to seasonal changes, add moisture into the air with a humidifier to prevent dry skin and reduce snoring and feelings of congestion.
Use Nasal Sprays or Irrigation
When you’re experiencing nasal blockage or if you have been around triggering allergens, consider using a nasal spray to relieve your symptoms. Run the solution from one nostril to the other, draining both of your nasal passageways.
To create your own solution, use distilled or sterile water and follow the specific directions of your irrigation device. If you use the device wrong or use tap water, you can get a serious infection.
Stay Away From Smoke
Smoking cigarettes or being around heavy smoke can induce sinus problems, irritating your sinuses, increasing risk of infection, and harming your immune system. The best way to reduce your sinus issues is to quit smoking if you smoke. If you’re around someone who’s smoking, remove yourself from the area.
How To Learn More About Your Sinuses
If you suspect you have a problem with your sinuses, contact your local primary care provider, who will be able to diagnose and manage some sinus conditions. However, if you don’t feel any relief from primary care, it’s best to see an ENT specialist. ENTs specialize in identifying and managing a wide range of sinus conditions. They can also use special tools to look inside your nose to find a solution to your problem and, if medical treatment is not working, even perform minor sinus surgeries to drain your nasal congestion.
We hope our guide to the importance of your sinuses has helped you understand why sinuses are such essential parts of the body and why ensuring clear nasal passages is important. The health of your sinuses is important to us at Allergy & ENT Associates. We are here to help you on your journey to an overall healthier life by tackling any sinus problems that may be interfering with your way of life. Contact us today for sinus treatments in Houston.