Sinus Anatomy | Sinus Diagram

Anatomy of the Sinuses

Most of the time our sinuses perform an extremely important and virtually thankless task. These pockets of air, located in the bones of our faces, not only strengthen the skull but also filter the air that we breathe.

When we think about sinuses, we tend to think about those pockets that cause the most pain—those sinuses on each side of our nose that are known as the maxillary sinuses. However, there are actually four pairs of sinus pockets:

  • The maxillary sinuses are the pockets near the cheeks. This sinus is located in the maxilla bone under the eye, contains three recesses, and is shaped like a pyramid.
  • The frontal sinuses are over the forehead and above the eyes. These are absent at birth, and in approximately 5% of the adult population.
  • The ethmoid sinuses are actually several small pockets in the ethmoidal bone. This bone separates the eyes from the nose. The sinuses themselves are separated from the eye and the nose by very thin bone or bony laminae.
  • The sphenoid sinuses are near the base of the skull, and can even spread as far as the occipital bone near the back of the head if they are very large.

Although the sinuses can become inflamed and cause a great deal of pain, they are vital to keeping our lungs free of debris. Although some argue that they lend our speech timbre and resonance, others disagree, claiming that these cavities are too small to affect the voice. So while you might blame them for your next headache, at least you can’t blame them for your bad singing.

If you are a singer, we specialize in helping voice professionals with sinus problems. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.