Ethmoid sinus comprises a group of ethmoidal air cells in the ethmoid bone, present between the nose and the eye sockets. Infection of these air cells by bacteria or virus is referred to as ethmoidal sinusitis. This article informs about its anatomy and disease conditions.
In the respiration process, the air entering the nasal passages is conditioned by the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, before it is passed to the remaining parts of the respiratory tract. Paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces located within the bones of the skull and the face. Two of the four, paired paranasal sinuses are the ethmoid ones. Present in the ethmoid bone, they are made up of air cells located discretely between the eyes and the nose.
The functions of ethmoid sinuses are no different from those of the other paranasal sinuses. With the hair-like structures called cilia and mucus secreted by the mucosal lining, they help in filtering air that enters the nasal cavity. Since these sinuses are directly exposed to incoming air, they are susceptible to pathogen attacks and other sinus problems. Thus, ethmoid sinus infections and diseases are quite common amongst the general population. Fortunately, personal hygiene and self-care tips are effective to prevent such problems.
Coming to the anatomy of an ethmoid sinus, it is made up of 7 to 10 interconnected bubble-like cavities that are separated by a thin-walled bone. Similar to other sinuses, each of the cavities are lined by mucous membrane. They also have separate openings in the nasal cavity. The sinuses within the ethmoid bone are further classified into three groups, with respect to their location: anterior, middle, and posterior. Though their openings differ, they drain in the nasal cavity.
Inflammation of the ethmoid air cells is brought about by constant irritation of the mucosal lining. The symptoms are swelling and inflammation of the sinus wall, which in turn cause blockage of the cavities. Consequently, the normal draining of mucus is disturbed, leading to the build-up of mucus in the cavities. If left unchecked, this accumulated mucus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, virus, or fungi. The ultimate result is ethmoid sinusitis.
Infection of the ethmoid sinus is a common incidence, triggered by several factors:
- environmental allergens
- foreign particles
- microbial infection (especially due to bacteria and virus)
- nasal polyps
Also known as ethmoiditis, it is an acute problem that usually lasts for 8 to 10 days. The notable signs of this infection are:
- headache in the temple area
- pain in the lower forehead
- nasal congestion
- sore throat
- pain behind the nose bridge, and in the corner of the eyes
In most cases, disease refers to ethmoidal sinusitis cases. They are not very serious, and can be addressed effectively. Nevertheless, if sinus infection treatment is delayed, infection may spread to other sinuses and adjoining areas. A severe case is eye socket infection; symptoms include droopy, swollen eyelids and high fever. For such a case, immediate medical attention is necessary to avoid blindness, meningitis, and other complications.
Some people are more susceptible to sinus problems than others. For them, personal cleanliness and precautionary measures are crucial to minimize risk of symptoms. People who have a chronic condition, and those with a compromised immune system should go for yearly flu vaccination to prevent the onset of ethmoidal sinusitis. For existing problems that do not improve with regular medical therapy, the physician may recommend sinus surgery. Consuming a balanced diet and following healthy lifestyle habits are equally important to reduce episodes of sinus infections.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is solely for informative purpose and not intended to replace the advice of medical experts.