How My sinuses Work



The nose is made of two nasal passages which are separated by the septum, made of bone and cartilage. The inside of the nose is lined by mucosa which has tiny hair like structures called cilia. The cilia filter the air we breathe in trapping unwanted particles such as dust and dirt. On the inside of the outer nasal wall there are three bony projections called turbinates. These structures are covered by a mucous membrane that contains numerous vascular channels. When we breathe air in it is prepared for the lungs by the nose and sinuses. The nose and sinuses produce mucous that adds moisture and warmth to the air before it gets to the lungs. If the septum is deviated it may result in obstruction of one or both nasal passages. Under certain conditions, such as infection, allergy or inflammation the turbinates become swollen also blocking the nasal passage.




Sinuses are air-filled pockets within the bones of the face. They are found on both sides of the nasal cavity and connect to the nose through small channels. These openings allow air to flow into the sinuses and mucus made by the lining of the sinus to drain out into the nose. The sinuses clean the air breathed through the nose and lighten the bones of the face.

There are four pairs of sinuses. The frontal sinuses are above the eyes in the forehead area. The ethmoids are honeycomb shaped and located between the eyes and the sphenoid sinuses are located behind the nose and below the brain. The maxillary sinuses are located beneath the eyes in the cheek area. The opening that leads to the nose from each sinus is called an ostium. The lining of the sinuses is similar to the lining of the nose and makes mucus daily. If the sinus ostium becomes blocked by inflammation or swelling, the mucus becomes trapped in the sinus and may serve as a medium for viruses, fungi and bacteria to live in.

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