The nose and the sinuses are lined with a membrane that
When air enters the nose, it is warmed,
moistened, and filtered before passing into the lungs.
bacteria, and other irritants often become trapped in the mucus that lines the
This mucus is pushed to the back of the throat by
tiny hairs (cilia) that line the inside of the sinuses and nose, and the mucus
is eventually swallowed.
If the mucous membrane becomes inflamed, it may swell,
blocking the openings that drain the sinuses. Mucus inside the sinuses then
becomes trapped. Both the inflammation and the pressure of trapped mucus cause
pain. Also, bacteria trapped in the mucus can grow, causing a bacterial sinus
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this