Sinuses are hollow air cavities in the skull connecting the nasal passages. They are connected via a narrow passageway called the ostium. The purpose of the sinuses is to humidify the air to the lungs, as well as create mucus secretion to eliminate unwanted particles from the body. They are a vital part of the respiratory process to bring the proper air, warm temperature and humidity into the lungs, providing life to the body. Think of the sinuses as your body’s air filter.
There are four pairs of sinus cavities, which are described as one functioning unit called paranasal sinuses. They are:
1. Frontal sinus (in the forehead)
2. Maxillary sinus (behind the cheeks)
3. Ethmoid sinus (between the eyes)
4. Sphenoid sinus (deep behind the ethmoids).
Each cell in the inner lining of the sinuses secretes mucus. Epithelial cells and others are a part of the immune system: lymphocytes, eosinophils and macrophages.
The sinuses are lined with a mucous membrane, which is one continuous tissue extending from the tip of the nose to the smallest airway in the lungs. This provides a strong, protective shield that allows you to breathe while protecting you from the elements. Because it connects all three parts of the respiratory tract, when there is infection in the nose, it can easily affect the sinuses and lungs. This is why the common cold often results in a sinus infection, or in people with higher susceptibility, bronchitis or even an asthma attack.
The ostia tube is a small passage that links the sinuses and is the diameter of the point of a pencil. Due to its size, it does not take much to restrict the proper function of the mucous membrane. Any inflammatory response from dry air, pollutants like pollens, dust and dander, or reactions from food sensitivities can cause blockage in the ostia tube. This usually results in a dry sinus headache, sinus pain and sinus pressure. Without any proactive measures, blocked sinuses can lead to infection.
Lining the mucous membrane are millions of tiny hair-like strands called cilia, whose role is to flush out pollutants and unwanted particles from the sinuses. Their wave-like action is like a cleaning crew of the mucus membrane (sinuses) and rinses these pollutants down the drain to the stomach, which has powerful acids to neutralize these particles. The cilia can become impaired with heavy mucus, a cold or a sinus infection. I recommend using a Sinupulse unit at the first sign of sinus blockage, heavy mucus drainage and other symptoms. This unit has been proven to restore the ciliary function.
By learning proper sinus hygiene and the proactive steps to good sinus health, you’ll create the optimum environment for your sinuses to thrive.