Most often than not, you would remember about your sinuses only when you have an infection such as a stuffy nose or a blocked nose. If not, you tend to forget about this amazing organ which plays various important roles that keep you healthy and illness-free.
The word ‘sinus’ is a Latin word, which means a curve, or a hollow cavity. Your sinuses are air-filled sacs present in your facial bones. They are hollow-spaces located behind your forehead, nose, cheekbones, and in between your eyes.
Sinuses are 4 pairs and are named after the bones they are present in:
Maxillary sinuses are located on each side of your nose, near the cheekbones.
Frontal sinuses are located above the eyes, near your forehead.
Ethmoid sinuses (3 small pairs) are located on either side of the bridge of your nose, near your eyes.
Sphenoid sinuses are behind the eyes, deeper into your skull.
The main function of your sinuses is to produce mucus. Mucus is a normal, slippery, and stringy fluid in the nose that is responsible for warming, moistening and filtering the air in your nasal cavity (a large, air-filled space above and behind the nose). If there is a blockage in the draining of mucus, your sinuses become clogged with it. This leads to inflammation and swelling of sinuses which is known as sinusitis. Sinusitis presents with similar symptoms to that of the common cold - cough, sore throat, loss of smell, eye pain, and headache.
Like mentioned earlier, the sinuses are an important system and much more than something that causes congestion and leads to those uncomfortable, sleepless nights.
In today’s article, we will look at some interesting facts about your sinuses that you are probably not aware of. Read on!
4 Interesting Facts About Sinuses You Should Know
1. Your sinuses act as a personal humidifier and space heater. A humidifier is an electronic device that increases the moisture (humidity) content in the air in a room or a building. A humidifier prevents the air from becoming too dry that often causes irritation in your throat.
Your sinuses moisten the air that you breathe in before it reaches your lungs. It's the mucus produced by your sinuses that does not allow cold air to reach your lungs before adding some heat to it. Breathing in warm, moist air is beneficial for your overall health and cold air can trigger symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
2. Your sinuses play an important role in your sense of taste. Ever wondered why your appetite is low and you cannot taste food properly every time you have a blocked nose? What’s the connection between your blocked nose and the taste of food?
Your taste buds with millions of sensory cells present on your tongue are primarily responsible for detecting taste. Besides the tongue, you also have the ability to detect taste through your nasal cavities. Your nose and sinuses play an important role in picking up various tastes and studies show there is a complex relationship between how you taste and your nose and sinuses. This is the reason why you cannot taste food when your sinuses are blocked during a cold or a sinus infection.
Most times, your ENT specialist will recommend clearing your sinuses to help you taste your food better.
3. Sometimes toothache or dental pain can be caused by your sinuses. If you're down with a sinus infection, you are most likely to show symptoms like a runny nose, congested nasal passages, sinus pressure, and headaches. There are times when you might have severe tooth pain, which seems completely unrelated to your sinuses.
Your dentist might realize it is a sinus toothache when his/her diagnosis reveals a healthy tooth and no other signs of dental infection. His/her doubt will be further cleared if you complain of pain felt in multiple teeth and not just in a single tooth.
Let’s understand this further.
Your maxillary teeth are the upper set of teeth that includes your top incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. The area between the floor of your maxillary sinuses and where the tips of the roots of maxillary teeth embed into the jaw is incredibly narrow. So when there are sinus pressure and a mucus build-up, it can cause your sinus cavity to expand and the pressure can cause pain in the sensitive roots of your maxillary teeth. This sharp pain is referred to as a sinus toothache since it is due to problems arising from your sinuses and not your teeth.
4. Aromatherapy can work wonders for your sinuses. Aromatherapy, also called essential oil therapy, uses aromatic essential oils to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit.
Your sinuses are responsible for draining the mucus into your nose and allowing air into the cavities. Healthy sinuses trap bacteria, viruses, and allergens, which if infected or irritated can cause blockage, congestion, and discomfort. Sinus infections can cause pressure and pain behind your eyes, a running nose, sore throat, and an annoying cough.
Thanks to essential oils that can clear your sinuses and relieve other symptoms. A natural alternative to medicines, aromatherapy finds application in clearing up your nasal passages and relieving your inflamed sinuses.
Recommended essential oils for clearing your sinuses are tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, and oregano. Before using aromatherapy, understand the risks and warnings. Essential oils are usually powerful and can cause skin irritation or damage if not used correctly.
Your sinuses are vital to your health and over well-being. If you have symptoms of a sinus infection and it does not get better in 3 to 4 days, consult your ENT specialist for a correct diagnosis and treatment.
1. Arppress.org. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.arppress.org/v/vspfiles/assets/images/NT%20Fascicle%2011%20Chapter%201.pdf> [Accessed 17 February 2021].
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