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What is Maxillary Sinusitis?

Maxillary sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus cavity located in the cheekbones. It often causes pain, pressure, and nasal congestion. This condition can stem from infections, allergies, or structural issues. Accompanied by vivid images, our article unpacks the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this common ailment. Wondering how it affects daily life or how to find relief? Join us as we explore further.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The maxillary sinus is the largest of the paranasal sinuses, a series of cavities in the bones of the skull. The sinuses serve a number of biological functions. Many people are familiar with sinusitis, an inflammation in the sinuses which is common in many regions, especially during the winter. The maxillary sinus is often involved in cases of sinusitis because it can be especially prone to inflammation as a result of the way in which it is structured.

This sinus is located in the maxillary bone, the upper part of the jaw. The maxillary sinus is roughly pyramid-shaped and runs between the base of the eyes and the upper area of the jaw, draining into the nose. One problem with this sinus is that it drains from the top, and consequently does not drain well when people are standing up. People with inflamed maxillary sinuses often note that they feel better when they lie down because this allows the sinus to drain. Maxillary sinusitis can often be identified by the intensification of symptoms experienced by patients while standing.

The maxillary sinus is often involved in cases of sinusitis.
The maxillary sinus is often involved in cases of sinusitis.

In cases of acute maxillary sinusitis, inflammation occurs inside the sinus, often as a result of irritation in the nose which leads to a buildup of mucus. It is also possible for the sinus to become infected by bacteria or viruses which manage to enter it. People may experience symptoms like headache, pain in the face, dental pain, dizziness, and runny nose when they have maxillary sinusitis. Acute inflammations resolve within a month.

The largest part of the paranasal sinuses is the maxillary sinus.
The largest part of the paranasal sinuses is the maxillary sinus.

Chronic maxillary sinusitis is a persistent inflammation which does not resolve. Patients may be required to take several medications to find one which will address the microorganisms in the sinus, and techniques such as nasal irrigation may be recommended to keep the nose and sinuses as clear as possible. In extreme cases, surgery on the sinuses may be required to drain the sinus and irrigate in an attempt to resolve the inflammation. A patient with a history of maxillary sinusitis should make sure that new doctors are made aware.

Dental pain may be caused by pressure and inflammation in the maxillary sinus.
Dental pain may be caused by pressure and inflammation in the maxillary sinus.

It is not uncommon for more than one of the paranasal sinuses to become inflamed, especially in cases of chronic sinusitis. In this case, medical imaging studies such as CT scans may be used to visualize these cavities in the skull to determine which sinuses are obstructed; in severe cases, they may be totally blocked. Someone who experiences repeated bouts of sinusitis may be evaluated for signs of an underlying medical issue which might be making the patient more prone to sinus inflammation. Treating the cause might bring the patient some relief from recurring maxillary sinusitis and inflammation of other sinuses.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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    • The maxillary sinus is often involved in cases of sinusitis.
      By: Vladislav Gajic
      The maxillary sinus is often involved in cases of sinusitis.
    • The largest part of the paranasal sinuses is the maxillary sinus.
      By: Alila Medical Media
      The largest part of the paranasal sinuses is the maxillary sinus.
    • Dental pain may be caused by pressure and inflammation in the maxillary sinus.
      By: Robert Kneschke
      Dental pain may be caused by pressure and inflammation in the maxillary sinus.
    • A runny nose is a possible symptom of maxillary sinusitis.
      By: Photographee.eu
      A runny nose is a possible symptom of maxillary sinusitis.
    • Nasal irrigation can be used to keep the nose and sinuses as clear as possible.
      By: Jim Mills
      Nasal irrigation can be used to keep the nose and sinuses as clear as possible.