The air passages of the nose, sinuses and lungs are all lined with a mucous membrane. This has a rich blood supply which enables it to warm and moisten the breathed in air. A thin film of mucous covers the whole of the airways and is kept constantly moving upwards away from the lungs by the sweeping action of the minute hair-like structures in the membrane. This forms a most effective filter for removing particles of dust from the air before it reaches the lungs. The irregularity of the nasal cavity and the air sinuses which open into it increase the area of mucous membrane the air comes into contact with making the warming and filtering more efficient.
Swelling of the mucous membrane readily obstructs drainage of secretions from the sinuses and may cause sinusitis. The sinuses are like little caves with an opening halfway up the wall to let the secretions out. The mucous membrane lines the cave but if it becomes inflamed it restricts the opening and at the same time produces more mucous. This causes a build up of pressure which leads to pain. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and the patient may have a fever, a headache, and pain in the face with localised tenderness over the forehead or cheekbones. After a few days bacteria start to colonise the damp warm mucous in the sinuses and a secondary bacterial infection occurs producing a thick discoloured nasal discharge – catarrh. If the body is unable to combat the infection and reduce the swelling in the mucous membrane the condition drags on and the patient may have problems with catarrh for several days, weeks or even months.
Treatment with inhalations may help to improve the drainage of the sinuses. Treatment with Manual Lymph Drainage and Connective Tissue Manipulation helps by improving the circulation and reducing the inflammation and congestion in the mucous membranes thus allowing the mucous to drain out of the sinuses and combat the infection.