Why are Sinus Issues So Common?
Sinuses are the air filled cavities that drain into your nose through very narrow passageways. When these passageways become blocked, the sinuses are unable to drain, resulting in sinus pain, pressure and infection. How likely you are to have sinus issues depends on 3 things:
- How big your sinus openings are.
- How much room you have in your nose.
- How much swelling you get in your nose.
How Big Are Your Sinus Openings?
- People born with big sinus openings can tolerate quite a bit of swelling in their nose without swelling closed these openings and, therefore, typically rarely get sinus infections.
- People born with very small sinus openings tend to swell these openings closed whenever they get any swelling in their nose, typically getting frequent sinus infections, congestion, or headaches.
- With every sinus infection, a small amount of scar tissue is created around the sinus openings, making the openings a little bit smaller.
- It takes less swelling to swell these smaller openings closed, making it easier to get sinus symptoms. This is why sinus infections often slowly get worse over time.
- Medicines to reduce swelling, allergy specific treatment, and surgery to make the sinus openings larger can all be effective in reducing or eliminating sinus symptoms.
How Much Room Do You Have In Your Nose?
- The septum is the part that divides your nose into 2 halves. If it is crooked (often called a deviated septum) it simply takes up more of the room in your nose. A broken nose makes the septum even more crooked, taking up even more room. This is why nose and sinus issues often get worse after you break your nose.
- The turbinates are the tissue that hangs down from the side of the nose and takes up most of the rest of the room in the nose. While we all need a certain amount of turbinate tissue, most people with sinus issues have turbinates that are just too big.
- The crookedness of your septum and the size of your turbinates determine how much room you have in your nose. Medicines that decrease the size of the turbinates, or surgery to straighten the septum and reduce the size of the turbinates can result in much more room, making sinus issues less likely.
How Much Swelling Do You Get In Your Nose?
- Anything that causes the inside of your nose to swell will decrease the amount of room in your nose, often swelling closed the openings to the sinuses.
- Allergies, a cold, irritation from pollution or cigarette smoke, barometric pressure changes, temperature changes, dryness, altitude, hormonal changes, and chemical sensitivities are just a few of the things that can increase intra-nasal swelling, making sinus problems worse.
- Treating the swelling with medicines, specific allergy treatment or surgery are effective ways to treat the swelling