Physician (ENT) discussing the paranasal sinuses with their patient

What are paranasal sinuses?

Your body is an extremely complex system. When one part of your body stops working, it can cause severe health problems.

In your head, there is a connected system of pockets that allow air to flow through your skull. These spaces are called your sinuses, and they connect to your nose. When the tissue lining your sinuses becomes inflamed or swollen, sinusitis is present. Sinusitis is the inflammation of your sinuses, which wreaks havoc on your ability to breathe out of your nose.

Your sinuses form in your nasal cavity during your childhood. Surrounding your nasal cavity are air-filled spaces, which are your paranasal sinuses. Paranasal sinuses explained in detail below, get their name from the bones that contain them. When one or several of your paranasal sinuses are blocked, bacteria collects, which may cause a sinus infection and lead to chronic or recurrent sinusitis.

Your body was designed to allow the air to flow through the channels without any barriers, but when swelling occurs from sinusitis, airflow and the natural draining processes are prohibited.

Restore healthy airflow and experience relief from sinus pain with North Texas Sinus Center.

What is the function and purpose of the four paranasal sinuses?

The four paranasal sinuses include the:

  • Maxillary Sinus: The largest of your sinuses, your maxillary sinuses are located at your cheekbone, underneath your eyes on both sides of your nose. This cavity begins on each side of your nose near the middle and extends to the outer edge of your eye.
  • Sphenoid Sinus: The sphenoid sinuses are found behind your eyes. They are positioned back behind the top of your nose.
  • Ethmoid Sinus: Ethmoid sinuses are located in several small spaces between your eyes in front of your sphenoid sinuses. The ethmoidal sinuses consist of three sinuses, including the anterior (hiatus semilunaris), middle (ethmoid bulla), and posterior (superior meatus).
  • Frontal Sinus: Near your eyebrows, frontal sinuses are located above the eyes. They extend from the inner edge of your eyebrows up towards your forehead and then out towards the outer edges of your eyebrows.

How Your Sinuses Work

Your sinuses are connected, air-filled pockets that form a system of cavities. The cavities are covered by tissue called mucosa.

Mucus keeps your nose damp and moisturized and helps your nose remain free of an excess of allergens, germs, dust, or other pollutants. In other words, mucus assists in the drainage process.

Your nose is divided into dual cavities by a nasal septum and connects to your sinuses through the ostium. There are turbinates (superior, middle, and inferior) that are placed alongside the naval cavity next to your nose. In between the turbinates is a space called the meatus. Draining occurs from the sinuses through the ostium to the meatus areas.

Blockages can occur in any of the four paranasal sinuses, causing issues to your health. Do you have blocked sinuses?