Sinuses and Sinusitis

What is Paranasal Sinusitis?

Paranasal Sinus is hollow cavity embedded inside the Skull bones and is covered from inside by a layer of special type of cells called Sinus Mucosa.

Paranasal Sinuses are named so, because they are situated around the nose.

Two of the larger paranasal sinus pairs are:

  • Maxillary Sinus : Situated below Orbits (container of eyeball) and outwards to nose.
  • Frontal Sinus : Situated above the Orbits.

There are other small groups of sinuses, situated behind root of nose and around it. They are:

  • Ethmoid Sinuses
  • Sphenoidal Sinus

What are Sinuses for?

The primary functions of the sinuses are:

  • Air Conditioning of the air that is taken in nose during inspiration. This is the most important function of sinuses.
  • Resonance of Voice.
  • Making the skull light in weight.
  • Enhancing growth of face after birth.

What is Sinusitis?

An inflammation of paranasal sinus mucosa is called sinusitis. On the basis of Type of Onset, Duration, Severity and other factors, Sinusitis may be classified into Acute Sinusitis and Chronic Sinusitis.

Acute Sinusitis

Typical Symptoms are:

  • Pain over infected sinus ( usually increased by bending the head down ).
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Nasal block
  • Sensation of Persisting Unpleasant taste.
  • Heaviness in head or headache.
  • Fever, if the infection is severe.
  • Specifically, In Maxillary Sinusitis, there is Pain and tenderness over cheek, pain radiating into eye, sense of fullness below the eye on affected side(s), and often severe headache.
  • In Frontal Sinusitis, there is Frontal Headache ( Headache above the orbits) and tenderness above the orbits, More in the morning and day, gradually decreasing by evening.
  • In Ethmoiditis, there is Pain, between and behind the eyes and loss of sense of smell.
  • In Sphenoiditis, there is deep seated headache, pain often radiated to temporal region ( above the ears ) and towards the Orbits.

Some of the common causes of Acute Sinusitis are:

  • Superimposed infection over Common Cold
  • Spreading Dental Infection
  • Direct injury to face resulting in blood clot formation inside the sinuses.
  • Swimming in infected waters.

Chronic Sinusitis

Typical Symptoms are:

  • Nasal Obstruction
  • Dull ache over the affected sinus (pain in not severe)
  • Morning Headache.
  • Periodic clearing of throat.
  • General feeling of tiredness, low grade fever.

Some causes of Chronic Sinusitis are:

  • Air Pollution: In the current scenario, this is one of the major causes of Chronic Sinusitis.
  • Repeated attacks of Acute Sinusitis.
  • Persistent Nasal Obstruction.
  • Persistent allergic cold.
  • Prolonged dental infection

What can be done to prevent Chronic Sinusitis?

It can be appreciated that Prevention of a Disease is always better than cure. If we can prevent some disease then we can be spared of the suffering, the cost of treatment, the time wasted in sickness and complications of diseases.

To prevent Chronic Sinusitis, we can:

  • Take timely and complete treatment of all infections, particularly nasal and throat infections.
  • Maintain Nasal and Oral Hygiene.
  • Protect ourselves against air pollution.
  • At the personal level, we can use helmets and pollution masks while driving.


Dr. Nitin Bhoraskar
Dr. Pankaj Tripathi