The Sinus Membrane
The sinuses are chambers (hollow places) behind your cheeks, eyebrows and jaw. They are lined with a membrane which in addition to its main function of producing mucus--up to about a quart a day--it transports and regulates it. In a healthy person the mucus is a clear, thin fluid that keeps harmful bacteria and other pollutants out of the air you breathe. The sinus membranes are covered with tiny hairs called cilia whose main function is to sweep mucus out of the sinus cavities toward the nasal cavity, via small openings. Should the cilia stop its one-way sweeping action the mucus would not move out and would stagnate causing a sinus infection. Nothing, therefore, should be done to harm the cilia: Steam inhalations, sinus sprays, etc., can do so if not properly administered.
Sometimes the sinus membranes get swollen and inflamed. This is called sinusitis. The swelling can get so bad that they block the sinus cavity openings and mucus and air cannot flow freely. Mucus accumulates, infects and a classic sinus infection takes place. One common cause for the membranes to swell is dry air.
Dry air and the sinus membranes
Whenever air humidity becomes very low and the sinus membranes do not get enough moisture they try to make up for that deficiency by producing its own moisture. Sometimes this is not sufficient and the membranes become dry and swollen and a thick, light yellow mucus is produced--a sign that a sinus infection is in the making. You can bring proper humidty to your sinus membranes by:
- Use of a humidifier. An ultrasonic, cool steam humidifier is the most practical and inexpensive way to solve the dry air menace to you sinus `
OTC nasal sprays and other remedies
- Ayr's: Saline Mist, Nasal Gel
- Neil Med's Sinus Rinse
- Plain saline solutions
- Nei Med's Nasal Flo - Neti Pot
Sinus membrane surgery
Up until not long ago whenever chronic sinusitis became a serious sinus problem or, as it was thought, the sinus or nasal membranes became chronically infected surgical removal of those membranes became one of the common options to consider. The Mayo Clinic, however, conducted a recent study which showed, basically, that a surgical removal of those membranes was not really necessary in most cases. They found that the real culprit for those infections was the mucus bacteria and not the membranes per se. When the right medication was administered to deal with the mucus bacteria the chronic sinus infections disappeared.
Taking good care of the sinus and nasal membranes and their cilia can pay high dividends.
- You are right on M. S., Md