Understanding Your Sinus

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The inside of your nose is complex, so in order to better understand the issues that are plaguing you, it is important to learn some basic anatomy and terms. Many people often incorrectly interchange the terms “sinusitis,” “allergy,” and “congestion,” though they are all quite different!

Your septum is the wall that divides the right and left sides of your nose and, if it is crooked, it is referred to as a “deviated septum,” which may cause nasal obstruction or blocked sinuses.

The turbinates are the fleshy shelves inside your nose that may become enlarged if you have a cold or allergy. When swollen, these are what contribute to the sensation of “stuffiness,” known as nasal congestion.

Lastly your sinuses are comprised of four air-filled cavities in the skull and facial bones:

  • Maxillary Sinuses located in your cheeks
  • Ethmoid Sinuses located in the roof of your nose
  • Frontal Sinuses located in your forehead
  • Sphenoid Sinuses located in the back of your nose

The term “Sinusitis” refers to the inflammation of the lining of your sinuses. If you are suffering from “Acute Sinusitis,” you have a short-term (1-2 weeks) condition often caused by a bacterial or viral infection that can often be treated by antibiotics and traditional decongestants. Alternatively, “Chronic or Recurrent Sinusitis” is a long-term or recurring condition that can be caused by a variety of factors and may require a combination of both surgical and medical treatment methods.

Sinusitis causes symptoms such as:

  1. Nasal Congestion
  2. Headaches
  3. Facial Pain or Pressure
  4. Post Nasal Drip
  5. Bad Breath/Bad Odor
  6. Loss of Smell (Anosmia)

Allergies or Allergic Rhinitis is a disorder that occurs when your body detects substances in the air called allergens. When your body’s defense system mistakes harmless allergens, such as pollen, dust, or grass for harmful antigens like bacteria, allergies occur. The symptoms of allergic rhinitis occur when a substance called histamine is released into the blood. Histamine causes common allergy symptoms including:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose and post nasal drip
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Hives

Vasomotor Rhinitis causes allergy-like symptoms such as nasal congestion and a runny nose. Throughout the course of a day, your nose will congest and decongest in a natural cycle, stimulated by triggers like a change in weather, your exercise levels, food, changes in posture, stress levels, perfumes, hormonal imbalances and smoke, plus many others. Vasomotor Rhinitis occurs when you have an overly sensitive nose, which provokes your nose to overreact to everyday triggers, and causes congestion, runny nose, or post-nasal drip.

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