Millions of people suffer from sinus problems, but few really understand sinus disease, its causes and the treatment options that are available today. Learn more below so you can understand what may be causing your pain.

What are Sinuses?

The sinuses are basically hollow spaces in your head. There are 4 pairs of sinuses:

  • Frontal
  • Maxillary
  • Ethmoid
  • Sphenoid

These four pairs of spaces are lined with mucosa, which produce mucus to help keep the nose clean. Normal sinuses drain this mucus through narrow channels into the nose and back of the throat. This constant clearing of mucus from our nose and sinuses is what helps protect us from molds, pollen, dust, pollutants and germs in the air we breathe.

Specific Sinus Problems

Sinus Headaches

“Sinus Headaches” mean a lot of things to different people. Most patients refer to any facial pain or pressure as a sinus headache. In their truest definition sinus headaches are headaches or facial pain/pressure brought on by changes in barometric pressure. There are many things that can cause facial pressure and pain that are not sinus related.

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Sinus Infections & Sinusitis

Sinus infections are not only uncomfortable, they can also be a symptom of Sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses that prevents mucus from draining properly. If you are experiencing recurring or chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion, headaches, or facial pain, you may have Sinusitis. We’re sinusitis experts.

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Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint syndrome or Temporomandibular disorders are commonly referred to as TMJ. TMJ refers to problems in the jaw joint that lead to inflammation and pain. Since the jaw joint is located near the sinuses problem with this joint can cause pain to be radiated into the ears or sinuses. This pain is frequently confused with sinus problems.

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Allergies

Allergies affect the sinuses when airborne allergens come into contact with the mucus lining in the nose and sinuses. When the body comes into contact with something to which it is allergic, it produces histamine, a chemical that causes swelling and inflammation. If allergies are severe and persistent enough, chronic conditions such as rhinitis, sinusitis, or asthma can result.

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Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) refers to the backflow of stomach acid into the larynx (the voice box) or the pharynx (the throat). LPR can occur day or night, but is most common at night when lying down. Because the tissues of the voice box and throat are very sensitive to injury and irritation from stomach acid, problems can occur if even small amounts of refluxed material reach into the throat.

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Sinus Polyps

Sinus polyps are grape-like growths of the sinus membranes that protrude into the sinuses or into the nasal passages. What causes polyps is not well understood, but some experts believe that allergies and infections can contribute to their growth. When polyps block nasal passages, they make it difficult for the sinuses to drain and for air to pass through the nose. When the sinuses are unable to drain, bacteria can build up and sinusitis can result.

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Immune Problems

A very specific type of immune deficiency can be a cause of recurrent sinus infections.

Hemophilus influenza type B and Streptococcus pneumonia are two bacteria that cause about 50% of acute sinus infections. It became standard to require vaccinations against both these bacteria for school aged children about 20 years ago.

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Septal Deviation

The nasal septum is the partition that runs down the inside of the nose and separates the right side of the nose from the left side. It is made up of cartilage in the front and bone in the back. Ideally, it should sit in the middle of the nose so that there is an equal air passage on both sides. However, trauma or anatomical deformities can push the septum to one side.

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Inferior Turbinate Hypertrophy

Turbinates are bony structures inside your nose covered by mucous membranes. They act as radiators in your nose by adding warm moist heat to the air that passes as we breathe. The turbinates are very susceptible to allergy and dust irritation.

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