The nose helps filter and humidify air traveling to the trachea and the lungs. Difficulty with breathing through the nose is a common problem. The septum, the wall that divides the nose into two sides, can be deviated and obstruct breathing. The turbinates, which are structures on the side of the nose that help humidify and warm the air passing through, can become enlarged and obstruct airflow.
The doctor may suggest treatments to help the symptoms or surgery to correct the septum and turbinate condition. The frontal sinuses are air-filled spaces in the forehead. The ethmoid sinuses are a cluster of multiple small air spaces in between the eyes.
The maxillary sinuses are large air-filled spaces beneath the cheeks. The sphenoid sinuses are a pair of air-filled spaces deep within the nose. The sinuses drain through small narrow passages or ostia into the nose.
The walls of the sinuses and the ostia are bone with a lining of mucous membranes. Mucous membranes have cells with finger like cilia that push mucus into the nose and then into the throat. This forms a self-cleaning system.
However sometimes the sinuses can become chronically obstructed and infected. Obstruction of the sinuses can cause infections that can cause congestion, yellow-green mucus, and discomfort.
Modern rhinologists try not to injure or strip the linings but rather restore their function. The doctor examines the nose and sinuses frequently using endoscopes and CT scans. The doctor then directs therapy towards the underlying causes of disease.
Noninvasive treatments or medications may be prescribed. Minimally invasive procedures such as balloon sinuplasty may be used to improve ventilation. If needed a surgical technique called functional endoscopic sinus surgery can be used to help treat chronic sinus infections.