What are the Sinuses?

The nasal sinuses are air spaces lined with a mucous membrane and surrounded by bone. The nasal sinuses drain through small passageways into the nasal cavity. Although patients normally do not notice it, some patients with severe allergies may feel this sinus drainage as post-nasal drip. Also called the paranasal sinuses, they are believed to help humidify, clean, and moisten the air we breathe. There are four main sinuses that come in pairs: maxillary, frontal, ethmoid, and sphenoid. The nasal sinuses are in a relatively small area and are very close to the brain, eyes, and teeth.

Chronic sinusitis may contribute to the following symptoms:

  • Sinus headaches
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Nasal congestion
  • Post-nasal drip and drainage
  • Decreased breathing through the nose
  • Recurrent infections
  • Decreased or altered sense of smell

Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) opens the natural drainage passages of the sinuses for appropriate patients and may help alleviate sinus symptoms. FESS is an outpatient procedure that is generally performed with a small camera via the nostrils.

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