Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sinuses: Resonant Holes in Your Head

"Advil Cold & Sinus draws reprimand"
AP, via (March 1, 2010)

"Slovak hockey player says he didn't know medicine contained banned stimulant."

"Edmonton Oilers defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky was reprimanded Sunday for a minor doping violation while playing for Slovakia at the Vancouver Olympics.

"The International Olympic Committee said Visnovsky tested positive for the stimulant pseudoephedrine contained in an over-the-counter cold medication.

"The IOC said Visnovsky declared on his doping control form that he was taking the medication, that he didn't know it was prohibited and was not trying to improve his performance.

"Instead of being disqualified from the games, the player was reprimanded...."

For what it's worth, I'm inclined to believe Visnovsky. In his position, I'd probably have known that psuedoephedrine was in a patent medicine I was taking - but I'm a quarter-century older than he is, my father went on a bad trip because of a poorly-researched prescription, significant parts of my mother's brain were destroyed when some fool of a doctor gave her a drug that jerks blood pressure down so hard, it's only supposed to be used in dire emergencies - she had very low blood pressure to begin with.

I'm probably a little more aware and interested in the medicinal properties of what we snort, shoot, and swallow than most people.

Anyway, that news item reminds me that people have holes in their heads. Literally. We call them sinuses: and sometimes it feels like they exist mostly to get infected and give us headaches.

I'm sure there's more to the sinuses than that. They're probably part of what gives our voices resonance - although that doesn't seem to be a sure thing:

"Sinusitis Patients' Voice Resonance following Endoscopic Surgery"
Medical News Today (September 19, 2004)

"It is estimated that some 37 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis and sinusitis each year. Many do not seek treatment; most find relief through prescription and over-the-counter medications. A minority of this population comes to the conclusion that medication is not a solution and seeks relief through endoscopic surgery. But the relief from sinusitis may have a cost - the quality of the voice.

"A great voice has great resonance, affected by the body's supraglottic area, pharynx, oral cavity, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. When minor alterations occur in the configuration of these anatomical structures, the result could be substantial differences in vocal quality.

"Although the role of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses in vocal quality remains uncertain...."

I got curious about sinuses, and dug up these resources: which is probably more than you want to know about those dozen or so holes in your head.

"Sinus headaches"

"Sinus headaches are headaches that may accompany sinusitis, a condition in which the membranes lining your sinuses become swollen and inflamed. You may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead. Perhaps your head throbs. Although these can indicate sinus headaches, don't jump to conclusions. Many people who assume they have sinus headaches actually have migraines or tension headaches...."

"Brief Overview of Sinus and Nasal Anatomy"
Martin J. Citardi, M.D., American Rhinologic Society

"The paranasal sinuses are air-filled pockets located within the bones of the face and around the nasal cavity. Each sinus is name for the bone in which it is located:
  • "Maxillary (one sinus located in each cheek)
  • "Ethmoid (approximately 6-12 small sinuses per side, located between the eyes)
  • "Frontal (one sinus per side, located in the forehead)
  • "Sphenoid (one sinus per side, located behind the ethmoid sinuses, near the middle of the skull)
"Each of these pockets has an opening that connects to the nose. This opening is called an ostium.

"Of course, the nose and sinuses are closely related. The nasal septum divides the nose into two nasal cavities...."

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