Preventing Sinus Infections and Sinus Headaches
The average adult produces between 1 to 2 quarts of mucus, phlegm, or snot each day.Disgusting? Yes. Important? Definitely! To paint a not so pretty picture, this amount of mucus equates to filling up half of a gallon of milk each day with the yucky green stuff that pours out of the nose or down the throat, regardless of any sinus infection or not. Mucus plays an extremely important role in the human body. The mucus, membranes that create it, and paranasal sinuses join together to moisten and clean the nose, humidify the air inhaled through the nasal passages, trap and evacuate irritants, and carry white blood cells to fight infection. It is important to acknowledge the volume of mucus produced daily by this system if only to understand the pain that is felt if you are struck down by a sinus headache, or worse, a sinus infection. The paranasal sinuses, much like any other body system, are of a complex design and need to remain balanced at all times. Blockage or swelling of the paranasal sinuses is the only reputable cause of sinus headaches and infections.
Paranasal sinuses can be broken down into four subgroups according to the bones to which they are attached. These sinus pockets are located:
- Under the eyes
- In the forehead
- Between the nose and eyes, and
- At the center of the base of the skull near the bottom of the hairline on the back of the human head
Each of these sinus cavities is filled with air and cilia that move together like amber waves of grain in order to clear out any bacteria or irritants from reaching the internal human body. When mucus flows into the glands and through the paranasal sinuses, it is only provided with a tiny space to clear the nose or down the throat. It is easy for the paranasal sinuses to drain when the body is producing thin mucus. However, when the body begins to produce thicker mucus due to dehydration, an infection or irritants in the air, the mucus struggles to pass through the little hole. Infections, allergies or irritants in the air can cause the membranes within the paranasal sinuses to swell to the point of closing the hole that allows the mucus to escape. The cells that produce mucus continue to produce at the same level, but the sinus cavities can no longer drain it at the same rate, resulting in pressure and extreme pain known well by those who are chronic sufferers of sinus headaches.
Unfortunately, the blockage of this nice, warm mucus makes for a happy home for grateful bacteria, allowing it to quickly breed and spread. The body cannot send the white fighting soldiers, otherwise known as white blood cells, into the paranasal sinuses to fight the bacteria as the entrance is too constructed for movement in or out. Continuous sinus blockage leads to sinus infections and more severe sinus headaches. The only way to effectively get rid of the headaches caused by these infections is to clear out the paranasal sinuses.
Scientists can only guess as to the actual reason for the paranasal sinuses’ existence. Some have postulated that the air pockets were Mother Nature’s way of reducing the total weight of the skull. Others believe that they are in place to regulate the resonance of the human voice. Regardless of the reason for their creation and inclusion in human anatomy, one thing is certain: in order to live a sinus headache and infection free life, the system must stay clear.