The sinuses are 4 pairs of air-filled spaces found in the bones around the nose. The sinuses influence breathing, phonation, the heating and humidification of inspired air and smell. But even more importantly, the sinuses, like the nose, are lined by a mucous membrane containing mucus-secreting cells.
Due to the very small size of the openings that connect the sinuses and the nose, when the mucosa becomes inflamed (for example, by a cold), the drainage of mucus is impossible. In addition, the malfunction of the cilia due to infection makes the drainage more complicated, causing facial pain.
There are 4 pairs of paranasal sinuses:
- The two frontal sinuses are located just above the eyebrows.
- The two maxillary sinuses are located in the cheekbones.
- The two ethmoid sinuses are on each side of the nasal cavity.
- The two sphenoid sinuses are located behind the ethmoid sinuses.
What is the function of the nasal sinuses?
The normal function of the sinuses depends on three essential components:
- clear mucous secretions,
- normal functioning of “microscopic hairs” (cilia) that sweep mucus from the sinuses into the nasopharynx and
- the opening of the narrow holes (ostium) that connect the sinuses with the ducts that conduct mucus to the back of the nose (nasopharynx).
Why does facial pain occur?
When a cold and its symptoms last for more than 10 days, it is called acute sinusitis and other characteristic symptoms of this disease occur: nasal congestion, runny nose (anterior/posterior nasal drip), reduction or loss of smell, and facial pain/pressure.
When facial pain is due to the accumulation of mucus caused by sinusitis, relief will be achieved by draining the mucus. To do this, the functioning of the mucosa of the sinuses must be restored.
Depending on where the mucus accumulates you may feel pain predominantly in:
- The forehead (frontal sinuses)
- On each side of the nose (sphenoid sinuses)
- In the upper jaws and teeth (maxillary sinuses)
- Between the eyes (ethmoid sinuses)