Sinusitis: Glossary

Here are definitions of medical terms related to sinusitis:

Allergen: Any substance that causes an allergic reaction because the immune system recognizes it as “foreign” or “dangerous”

Antibiotic: A drug that kills a bacteria or virus

Antihistamine: A drug that dries excess mucus and blocks allergic reactions

Asthma: A disorder of the lungs that causes wheezing, coughing and excess mucus production

Bacteria: A one-celled microorganism that can cause infection

Benign: Not cancerous

Bronchitis: Short-term swelling of the mucous membrane of the lungs

Cilia: The tiny hairs along the mucous membrane that move mucus through thesinuses and out the nose

CT Scan: A special type x-ray which produces detailed images of body structures

Cystic fibrosis: An inherited disease which causes the glands to produce thick mucus

Decongestant: A drug that can be taken orally or purchased in nasal spray form, which shrinks blood vessels and reduces swelling

Dehydration: Too much loss of water from the body tissues

Deviated septum: A crooked condition of the partition separating the left and right sides of the nose

Endoscope: A thin, lighted instrument, much like a telescope, that is inserted into the nostrils for viewing of the nose and sinuses through an eyepiece at the other end

Endoscopy: Endoscopic sinus surgery or examination of the sinuses with an endoscope

Ethmoid sinuses: The pair of sinus cavities located between the eye sockets

Eustachian tube: A tube in the inner ear that connects with the nose and throat

Frontal sinuses: The pair of sinus cavities located in the forehead and above the eyebrows

Fungus : A parasitic plant or mold that can be microscopic and thus, ingested or inhaled

General anesthetic: A drug that causes the patient to sleep during surgery, so that no pain is experienced during the procedure

Hay fever: An acute allergic reaction to trees, grass, weeds, and pollens that happens when the seasons change

Hormone: A chemical produced by an organ in the body that runs the activity of another organ

Humidifier: A device that adds moisture to the air

Kartagener’s: A rare condition in which the cilia do not function properly, causing syndrome sinus and chest infections

Local anesthetic: A drug that numbs only the area where surgery will be performed, allowing the patient to stay awake during the procedure

Maxillary sinuses: The pair of sinus cavities located in the cheekbones

Meningitis: An infection or inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord

Mucus: The fluid made by the lining of the nose and sinuses, which carries dust and other particles out of the nose

Mucous membrane: The lining of the nose and sinuses. There are also mucous membranes in other parts of the body

Otolaryngologist: A doctor specializing in disorders of the ears, nose and throat

Polyp: A noncancerous, water-filled swelling

Postnasal drip: A condition in which mucus drips slowly from the sinuses to the back of the throat, causing a cough, bad breath, or an unpleasant taste

Pus: A mixture of dead bacteria, white blood cells and other body secretions created by the body to rid itself of infection

Respiratory system: The system of organs that process air in the body, including the nose, throat and lungs

Rhinitis: A swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose

Saline nasal spray: A spray containing a mild salt solution that cleans the nasal passages

Septum: The partition separating the left and right sides of the nose

Sinoscopy: Endoscopic sinus surgery, or examination of the sinuses with an endoscope

Sinuses: The spaces between the bones in the face where air passes and mucus drains

Sinus washout: A minor operation to clear the maxillary sinuses

Sphenoid sinuses: The pair of sinus cavities located deep in the head at the back of the nose

Steroid: A hormone-like drug

Tumor: A swelling caused by an uncontrolled growth of cells, which can be benign or cancerous

Vasomotor rhinitis: Symptoms of rhinitis that are caused by stress, rather than an allergen or infection

Virus: A tiny organism that feeds on the cells of animals and can cause infection

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