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Sinusitis and the Four Types of Sinuses

Ever had a sinus infection or seasonal allergies? Part of understanding why we get those stuffy, sniffly, sneezy sensations involves the anatomy of our sinuses. Here we’ll review the four types of sinuses and what can happen when they get inflamed.

What are sinuses?

The sinuses are a system of hollow cavities located near the eyes and nose inside the human skull. They are connected by narrow channels. Mucus secretions produced inside these cavities help moisten the air we breathe through our noses.

The four types of sinuses

Our bodies have four pairs of sinuses (pairs for the left and right sides of the body). Their names are indicative of where on the head they’re located.

Frontal sinuses

The frontal sinuses are located near the bottom center of the forehead, which is also known as the frontal bone. This puts them just above each eye and the nasal bridge.

Maxillary sinuses

The maxillary sinuses get the distinction of being the largest when it comes to the four types of sinuses. They are located behind our cheekbones above the upper jaws (maxillae).

Sphenoid sinuses

The sphenoid sinuses get their name from the sphenoid bone, which is behind our eyes on the sides of the skull.

Ethmoid sinuses

Unlike the rest of the sinuses, the ethmoid sinuses are not single spaces. They are a honeycomb-like cluster of six to 12 smaller sinuses located under the ethmoid bone situated at the inside corner of each eye.


Now that we are familiar with the four types of sinuses, let’s talk sinusitis. Also known as rhinosinusitis, sinusitis is what happens when the tissue lining the sinuses gets inflamed. When this happens, the sinuses can get blocked and filled with fluid. In this environment, pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi can grow and cause the sinuses to become infected.

Symptoms of sinusitis

Symptoms of sinusitis can vary depending on which of the sinuses is affected. Common symptoms include increased mucus, nasal congestion, pain in the cheeks, forehead and around the eyes, and headaches.

Sinusitis treatment

The severity and type of sinusitis you are experiencing (acute vs. chronic, for example), will dictate the most effective form of treatment. Treatments can include but are not limited to antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, nasal sprays or sinus surgery in come cases. The best course of action to assess which treatment option will be most likely to benefit your particular condition is to make an appointment at your local Southern Head & Neck Surgery location.


Understanding the four types of sinuses gives us better insight into what may be happening in our own bodies. Stay on top of your ear, nose and throat health by keeping up with regular appointments at Southern Head & Neck Surgery! Keep reading our blogs for more useful information.