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What are the Frontal Sinuses?

Nicole Madison
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Frontal sinuses are cavities of air that are located within the bones of a person’s forehead. These cavities may vary in size and shape from person to person. Interestingly, a person's frontal sinuses do not typically develop completely until he is at least 12 years old. In addition to the frontal sinuses, a person also has maxillary sinuses, which are positioned behind the cheeks, ethmoid sinuses, which are between a person’s eyes, and sphenoid sinuses, which are behind the ethmoid sinuses.

The frontal sinuses are open to a person's nasal airway via a hole or passageway that is referred to as an ostium. Together with a person’s other sinuses, the frontal sinuses make up a group or unit that is referred to as the paranasal sinuses. The sinuses are lined with cells that produce mucus as well as cells of the immune system. They are also lined with epithelial cells, which are cells that form the linings or surfaces of various parts of the body.

The frontal sinuses appear to have some important purposes, but scientists are not 100-percent certain of their primary purpose. They believe, however, that the sinuses help to decrease head weight since they are air-filled chambers. They also work to help warm the air that passes through a person’s nose and increase its humidity. The sinuses may also have an effect on the sound quality of a person’s voice. Additionally, sinuses help protect a person’s brain and eyes in the event of a blow in this area, acting as buffers.

Air flows through a person’s sinus cavities as he breathes normally. A person’s frontal sinuses drain through his ethmoid sinuses, which are located between his eyes, and into the nose itself. Sometimes, however, infection or irritation leads to the blockage of the opening through which the frontal sinuses drain, resulting in a sinus infection.

An individual may develop a sinus infection when a virus, bacterium, or fungus grows in the sinuses. This leads to swelling and inflammation of the sinus linings that can block the opening that drains the sinuses. The result is often pain or discomfort. For example, a person may develop a headache as well as stuffiness and a runny nose. While a person may develop a sinus infection because of a virus or other pathogen, similar irritation and symptoms can also develop as a complication of an allergy or other type of irritation.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Nov 24, 2011

I have seen firsthand how the frontal sinuses can affect the voice. I am the songleader at my church, and when I got a sinus infection over the summer, I had to let someone else fill in for a couple of months.

I sounded so nasally that it was obvious something was wrong. Normally, I have a crystal clear voice, but it had been hijacked by bacteria.

The crazy thing is that even after I finished my antibiotics, my voice continued to be affected. The infection returned, and I had to take a different type of antibiotics this time.

After a couple of months, the infection finally went away. I am able to sing again, but I can still notice a difference in my tone. I sound slightly nasal, even after all this time.

This makes me wonder if it is possible for the sinuses to be permanently damaged. Could it be that I may never get the voice I had before the sinus infection back?

By Oceana — On Nov 24, 2011

I'm glad that our bodies have a mechanism for warming outside air before it enters our lungs. In the wintertime, it would be excruciatingly painful to inhale subzero air.

The natural humidifying feature of our frontal sinuses also makes it much easier to breathe. I know that in my heated house during cold weather, the air gets very dry. I often have to use an extra humidifier in my room at night to moisten my nasal passages, and I can't imagine how bothersome it would be if I didn't have nature's little humidifier in my head to help out.

By orangey03 — On Nov 23, 2011

@Perdido - I always become painfully aware of my frontal sinuses as the pain from a sinus infection sets in. I get severe headaches along with the inflammation and swelling.

I take ibuprofen for the inflammation, but it doesn't do anything to fix the source of the problem, so it only works for a few hours. Generally, if I get a sinus infection, I have to go to a doctor for antibiotics. Otherwise, I will continue to suffer.

A sinus headache is unlike a regular headache. To me, it is even more painful, because the pain seems to bounce around inside the sinuses. You know how it feels when you accidentally breathe in some pepper? Well, this is how my frontal sinuses feel when I have that sort of headache.

By Perdido — On Nov 23, 2011

I didn't realize that the sinuses in my forehead were involved in a sinus infection along with the ones in my nose! I never really think about the frontal sinuses, probably because they are not right in my direct airway. When I think of sinuses, I automatically think of my nose.

When I get a sinus infection, my nose aches with a fullness. No matter how much I blow my nose, I cannot empty it out. It swells, which makes the flow of mucus difficult.

I didn't know it until my doctor pressed on my cheeks close to my nose, but those sinuses hurt, as well. Probably, if she had pressed on my forehead, I would have felt tenderness there, too.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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