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Sinus Terms & Definitions


The tissue that's just beyond the back end of the nose, up behind the soft palate.  Large adenoids can lead to blockage of sinus drainage and thus sinus infections.


Any substance that induces an allergy. Common allergens are house dust mite, pollen, mold and animal dander.


Dysfunctional immune responses to substances harmless to most people.


A chronic lower respiratory condition caused by a tightening of the muscles and swelling of the lining in the small breathing tubes of the lungs.

CT Scan:

A type of X-ray that provides a detail blueprint of the architecture of the nose and sinuses.

Deviated Septum:

An abnormality in the nose in which the partition, the nasal septum, separating the left and right sides of the nose curves or twists. Nasal obstruction, poor sleep, facial pain and/or sinus infections can result.


A narrow lighted instrument that is used to explore the nasal passages.

Ethmoid Sinuses:

Sinuses located between the eyes.

Frontal Sinuses:

Sinuses located in the forehead.

Maxillary Sinuses:

Sinuses located below the eyes.

Minimally Invasive:

Techniques that case less trauma for the patient and disturb as little of the anatomy as possible.


Secretion that moistens and protects nasal passages and sinus cavities.

Nasal Endoscopy:

A procedure in which the physician uses an endoscope to survey the nasal passages, looking for any obstructions, infection, polyps, or other swelling.


A small opening connecting the sinuses to the nose.


A mass of membrane not typical to normal anatomy.


The partition that separates the right and left sides of the nose.

Sinus Headache:

Headaches characterized by a painful pressure in certain areas of the face or skull and typically triggered by air pressure changes or blocked sinuses.

Sinus Infection:

An inflammation of the lining in one of the sinuses, characterized by excessive mucous, congestion and other complaints.


Air-filled cavities located above, beside and behind the nose and connected to the nose by tiny passages that carry mucous from the sinus into the nose and also keeps the air constant in the sinus.


An infection of one or more sinuses. See Sinus Infection above.

Sphenoid Sinuses:

Sinuses located behind the eyes; the most deeply placed sinuses.

SQ Test:

A test conducted at the Setliff Sinus Institute that helps determine whether a patient’s symptoms are caused by allergies, sinus problems or both.


Bones on the sidewall of the nose. There are three turbinates on each side of the nose: the lower (or inferior) turbinate, the middle turbinate and the upper (or superior) turbinate. The tear duct drains underneath the lower turbinate. The maxillary, anterior ethmoid and frontal sinuses drain beneath the middle turbinate, and the sphenoid and posterior ethmoid sinuses drain under the upper turbinate.