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Sinusitis and Mucous Membrane - Topic Overview

The nose and the sinuses are lined with a membrane that produces mucus.

  • When air enters the nose, it is warmed, moistened, and filtered before passing into the lungs.
  • Dust, smoke, bacteria, and other irritants often become trapped in the mucus that lines the nasal passages.
  • 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 infection.

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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: 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 information.
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