Sinus Anatomy: The Cliff Notes

You may have fallen asleep while reading my post on Nasal and Sinus Anatomy yesterday.  Or more likely, you just clicked away somewhere else.  That’s understandable – that was a little too wordy (nearly 1,000 words), and a little too technical.  Lot’s of new vocabulary.  I was kinda hoping the pretty pictures might keep you interested.  But there really WERE a couple important points to help you keep your child’s sinuses healthy.  Here’s how the anatomy affects their health.

Here are the Cliff Notes:

  • Keep those cilia happy!
    Achieving – and maintaining – sinus health depends on muco-ciliary clearance.  To achieve a life without sinusitis, keep those cilia happy.
    What does that take?
    Well, it means you MUST avoid anything that is toxic to your child’s cilia.Like tobacco smoke.  Like air pollution (indoor or outdoor).  Like keeping their cilia from drying out.If you can smell smoke on someone, in a car, on someone’s furniture, your cilia are unhappy.
    Keep their cilia moist (see next item).  Use a humidifier at night (especially if you live in a low-humidity environment, or during dry Winter months).  Have your child use a mild nasal saline spray during the day.  These are NOT addicting.
  • Keep their nose moist.
    Note that the openings of the cheek sinuses (maxillary sinuses) lie at the TOP of the sinus.  That means that the sinus secretions (snot) must be moved uphill, against gravity, in order to get out of those openings into the nose.  In order for that to happen, the secretions must be thin enough for the cilia to sweep them uphill.  The cilia are responsible for sweeping the secretions toward those sinus openings  (those cilia again).  Dryness thickens those secretions, makes sweeping by the cilia more difficult.
    Some medications thicken the secretions also.  Old-style antihistamines, for example.  Avoid those if possible.
  • Reduce inflammation.
    Note that the openings for ALL of the sinuses are very small.  That means it takes very little swelling of the lining of the nose and sinuses to block the openings of the sinuses.  Even a little inflammation (from allergens, smoke, airborne pollutants, viral or bacterial infection, irritation from chlorine in the swimming pool – ANY irritant) can cause swelling and obstruct the sinus openings.  This can cause sinusitis.
    So, do whatever it takes to minimize inflammation in your nose and sinuses.
    Like saline sinus rinses – rinse away those pollutants and the pollen grains and any other irritants.  More on this in other (both past and future) posts.
  • It may be time for an adenoidectomy.
    Even if the adenoids (like tonsil tissue at the back of the nose) are not so big that they block the back of the nose, they CAN be a reservoir for virus and bacteria.  That is, viruses and bacteria may simply be sitting in all the nooks and crannies of the adenoids.
    Because of the unique features of BIOFILMS, these bacteria can be protected from our immune system.  From the location of the adenoids, they can cause ear infections (up the Eustachian tubes), or rhinitis and sinusitis.  If you have tried everything else, and your child still has chronic sinusitis, it may be time for an adenoidectomy (surgery to remove the adenoids).
    More about biofilms in a future post.

There.  I suppose I could have just written just those 380 words instead of nearly 1,000.  But I still think it was important to provide the anatomy in detail in the post yesterday.  That will be the foundation for understanding a lot of what goes on in rhinitis, sinusitis, and how these trigger asthma.  We will refer to it often as we discuss how to rid you child’s life of rhinitis, sinusitis, and asthma.

Thanks for visiting, and see you here again.  I appreciate your comments and questions.  Keep ‘em coming.  Please, “be excellent to one another.”

Best of health and success to you and your families.

Until next time, remember … you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose (unless you’re a boogor doctor :~D)

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