Your nose is one of the most important parts of your body. It doesn’t just receive and process smells, it’s a front line air filter designed to capture and remove bacteria, dust, and germs with every breath you take. Your nose helps keep your lungs healthy and functioning by moistening air as it enters your body, and its healthy function is critical to your personal health.
Sinuses are hollow air-filled cavities that are lined with a mucous membrane. These catch bacteria and humidify the air you breath. There are several different sinus areas that include the maxillary sinuses in your cheekbones, frontal sinuses in your forehead, sphenoid sinuses behind your nose, and ethmoid sinuses in your eyes. This is one of the reasons sinus pressure can be felt throughout your entire face.
What is a mucous membrane?
The mucous membrane is a soft tissue lining made up of mucous glands. Mucous glands produce mucus which serves several different functions; mucus captures harmful particles and humidifies the air you breath while keeping the inside of your body moist.
The nasal cavity
Your nasal cavity is a hollow area just behind your nose that’s lined with a mucous membrane which moistens air and prevents the inside of your nose and nasal passages from drying out.. The lining of your nasal cavity is also coated with fine hairs that help filter the air you breathe.
Conditions that affect the nasal cavity and sinuses
Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis: Occurs due to inflammation of your nose cavity linings
Chronic sinusitis: Similar to rhinitis but lasts longer than 12 weeks and often caused by nasal polyps
Nasal masses and tumors: Growths that can block nasal cavities and impede normal functioning
Stuffy Nose/Nasal Congestion: Inflamed sinuses due to an infection or illness can lead to a feeling of congestion. Inflammation due to an immune system response can also cause the sinuses to produce additional mucus. If mucus cannot drain into your nasal cavity, it will result in a runny nose.
This is a thin strip of bone and cartilage that separates your nasal cavity into a right and left side.
Conditions that affect the septum
Deviated Septum: A deviated septum occurs when the septum is off center. That can decrease the size of the nasal passage on one side, and typically impacts breathing.
Stuffy Nose/Nasal Congestion: Congestion is the most common symptom of a deviated septum.
Nosebleeds: Most nosebleeds stem from damaged blood vessels on the septum wall. These vessels are particularly fragile, and can damage easily.
Nasal turbinates are long passages that moisten and warm air as it passes through the nose. Although it would seem counterintuitive, when turbinates are enlarged they can actually make it harder to breath. Known as turbinate hypertrophy, enlarged turbinates also increase the chance of nosebleeds and infections.
Conditions that affect the turbinates.
Turbinate Hypertrophy: This condition occurs when turbinates are enlarged and can make breathing difficult in addition to increasing the chance of nosebleeds and infections.
Other common conditions that affect the nose:
Nasal Fractures: Nasal fractures are incredibly common, and are diagnosed by an ENT. Although any bone within the nose can fracture, they most commonly occur in areas where the bone is naturally thinner. Fractures typically occur from an impact and are the most common facial bone fracture making up roughly half of all cases.
Nasal obstructions: Foreign objects can block sinus functioning, causing loss of smell, pain, inflammation, and poor drainage. Most nasal obstructions are temporary, caused by colds, allergies, sinus infections, or medications, while others require medical intervention.
Common nasal obstructions include a deviated septum, turbinate hypertrophy, choanal atresia, nasal polyps, foreign objects in the nose, oversized adenoids and swollen nasal lining.
How are nasal conditions diagnosed?
ENT doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose nasal conditions including culture swabs, endoscopic tools, and symptom-related testing, but every diagnosis has one thing in common, it starts with you.
Patient care begins with the patient, and every diagnosis starts with conversation. We want to know what brought you in, how you feel both physically and mentally, when your symptoms began and what environmental factors may have had an impact.
Evaluations may require evaluation of your nasal cavity with an endoscope, physical examination of your head, neck and face as well and endoscopic inspection of your nose, larynx, and sinuses. Some sinus conditions may require a CT scan to properly diagnose.