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  • Writer's pictureDr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh

Paranasal Sinuses: Types of Sinuses Explained

Sinuses are air-filled cavities in the body. The sinuses adjacent to the nose are called Paranasal Sinuses. These cavities connect to the nose through small openings lined with mucous membranes.


The mucus produced by this membrane, along with the air present in the sinuses, aids in removing dust, bacteria, fungi, and other unwanted particles.


Types of Paranasal Sinuses

Paranasal sinuses can be divided broadly into 2 types.

  1. Paired sinuses

    1. Maxillary

    2. Frontal

    3. Sphenoid

  2. Minor sinuses – Ethmoid sinuses

Paranasal Sinuses - Types of Sinuses Explained

Maxillary Sinuses

Located below the eyes and above the upper jawbone and teeth, the maxillary sinuses stand as the largest among the paranasal sinuses and come in pairs. They are shaped like a rhomboid. Each person has two maxillary sinuses situated symmetrically on either side of the face.


Frontal Sinuses

The frontal sinuses are located above the eyes, within the forehead and brain. Similar to the maxillary sinuses, they come in pairs, with one on each side: one on the right and another on the left.


Sphenoid Sinuses

Situated deep within the skull, the sphenoid sinuses are located at the centre of the head, positioned behind the nasal cavity. These sinuses come in pairs, with one on each side.


Ethmoid Sinuses

Unlike the other paranasal sinuses, the ethmoid sinuses are composed of multiple small cavities rather than a single large space. They are located between the two eyes and vary significantly in shape, size, and position from person to person. Due to their variability, navigation systems are often required during sinus surgery to address issues related to the ethmoid sinuses.


How common is paranasal sinus disease?

Paranasal sinus disease, commonly called sinusitis, is a common condition affecting millions of people. It usually begins with the blockage of the sinus openings, leading to fluid stagnation. These fluids create a breeding ground for bacteria, causing an infection. This results in symptoms like a runny nose, facial pain, headache, fever, and nasal congestion.


What causes a paranasal sinus infection?

The common cold is the primary trigger of sinusitis. When someone with preexisting underlying conditions gets a simple viral infection like the common cold, it triggers fluid buildup in the sinuses. This stagnant fluid provides an ideal environment for bacteria, viruses, and fungi to thrive, resulting in sinus wall infection and sinusitis.


These preexisting conditions or underlying problems could be

  1. Anatomical Anomalies in Sinus Drainage Path

  2. Allergies

  3. Low immunity against bacteria from birth



Understanding the various types and locations of paranasal sinuses is crucial for diagnosing and treating sinus conditions. From the maxillary and frontal sinuses to the deeper sphenoid and intricate ethmoid sinuses, each type presents unique shapes, sizes, and associated challenges. Effective management of sinus infections necessitates a comprehensive knowledge of sinus anatomy and the use of advanced medical techniques.

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