The problem isn’t the sinuses themselves. They’re just hollow air spaces within the bones between your eyes, behind your cheekbones, and in the forehead. They make mucus, which keep the inside of your nose moist. That, in turn, helps protect against dust, allergens, and pollutants.
Ah, fall. The perfect time to get outside for long walks in the neighborhood, hikes in the hills, and autumn gardening.
But that "ah" can quickly become "ah-choo" if you're one of the 36 million Americans with seasonal allergy problems. The runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion -- all typical fall allergy symptoms -- can slow you down and make you miserable.
While there have been no dramatic advances recently in allergy treatment, experts say if you are allergy-prone, you can take a number of...
Blockages. Each sinus has a narrow spot, called the transition space (ostium), which is an opening that’s responsible for drainage. If a bottleneck or blockage happens in the transition of any of your sinuses, mucus backs up.
An extra sinus. About 10% of people have one. It narrows that transition space.
Deviated nasal septum. Your nasal septum is the thin wall of bone and cartilage inside your nasal cavity that separates your two nasal passages. Ideally, it’s in the center of your nose, equally separating the two sides. But in many people, whether from genetics or an injury, it’s off to one side, or “deviated.” That makes one nasal passage smaller than another. A deviated septum is one reason some people have sinus issues. It can also cause snoring.
Narrow sinuses. Some people just have variations in their anatomy that creates a longer, narrower path for the transition spaces to drain.
Sinus sensitivity and allergies. You may be sensitive to things in your environment and to certain foods you eat. That can cause a reaction that leads to swelling in the nose.
Your doctor can prescribe medications to control your symptoms. If you have sinus problems and allergies, you should avoid irritants such as tobacco smoke and strong chemical odors.