Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideSinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms & Treatment

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms & Treatment

What is a sinus?

A sinus is a hollow, air-filled cavity. For the purposes of this article, a sinus will refer to those hollow cavities that are in the skull and connected to the nasal airway by a narrow hole in the bone (ostium). Normally all sinuses are open to the nasal airway through an ostium. Humans have four pair of these cavities each referred to as the:

  1. frontal sinus (in forehead),
  2. maxillary sinus (behind cheeks),
  3. ethmoid sinuses (between the eyes), and
  4. sphenoid sinus (deep behind the ethmoids).

The four pair of sinuses are often described as a unit and termed the "paranasal sinuses." The cells of the inner lining of each sinus are mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells and some cells that are part of the immune system (macrophages, lymphocytes, and eosinophils).

Functions of the sinuses include humidifying and warming inspired air, insulation of surrounding structures (eyes, nerves), increasing voice resonance, and as buffers against facial trauma. The sinuses decrease the weight of the skull. If the inflammation hinders the clearance of mucous or blocks the natural ostium, the inflammation may progress into a bacterial infection.

Reviewed on 5/18/2016
References
REFERENCES:

US Federal Drug Administration. "Is Rinsing Your Sinuses Safe?"
<http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm>

Brook, I. MD. "Acute Sinusitis." Medscape. Jul 29, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/232670-overview>

Brook, I. MD. "Chronic Sinusitis." Medscape. July 19, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/232791-overview>

NeilMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. NeilMed Sinusrinse Video.
<http://www.neilmed.com/usa/video.php>

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