Sinus Pain While Flying: How to Stop It

Sinus Pain and Air Travel

Not everyone loves flying, but everyone should be able to complete a flight without fighting severe sinus pressure and pain. That includes you. Does flying cause you sinus pain?

Let’s take a look at why you’re experiencing sinus pain and how to stop it. We’ll start by defining sinus pain to help you know what you’re dealing with.

What is sinus pain?

Your sinuses play an important role in your health. When they are blocked, inflamed, or disrupted, you can experience symptoms and pressure. This pressure can cause pain, which gets worse when bending over. Pain can be felt around your nose, cheekbones, forehead, and eyes, and it can range from being mildly irritating to unbearable.

Is this what you feel during or after a flight? If so, you need to learn what’s causing this sinus pain. There may be one or multiple causes, which we will explore below.

What causes sinus pain while flying?

The body reacts to changes in pressure, and pressure changes several times during the course of a flight. When pressure changes quickly, your ears and sinuses must adjust fast to avoid additional pressure and pain from building up to an intolerable level. When your sinuses are slow to adjust, which is often due to an underlying condition, including those listed below, pain occurs. If you’re experiencing sinus pain during a flight, you may be experiencing one or several of the following conditions:

  • Acute sinusitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Recurrent sinusitis
  • Ear infection
  • Cold
  • Flu

Sinusitis is a common cause of sinus pressure and pain while flying.

Are you suffering from sinusitis?

Sinusitis (rhinosinusitis) occurs when there is inflammation in the tissue lining the sinuses (mucous membrane). The inflammation prevents the sinuses from properly flushing out toxins and draining. This can cause an array of symptoms that you may be experiencing if you have sinusitis, including:

  • Sinus pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Nasal drip
  • Facial pain
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat

Sinus infections can put a strain on your life, work, and family. Bella Vista can determine if you are suffering from sinusitis or another condition. If suffering from a sinus infection while flying, you may experience severe sinus pressure and pain. We recommend avoiding air travel when possible if you have a sinus infection. By treating the root cause of your sinus pressure and pain, you can avoid a lifetime of painful flights.  

Explore how balloon sinuplasty from Bella Vista ENT can serve as a long-term, minimally invasive solution to treat your recurrent or chronic sinusitis here.

However, if you’re suffering from sinus pressure and have not yet found a long-term solution, here are some tips to help you get through your upcoming flight.

How can I prevent sinus pain while flying?

Two common methods used to ease this pain while taking off and in-flight include chewing gum or another substance and/or swallowing water. By chewing and swallowing, you can temporarily relieve pressure that is building in your sinuses due to the change in cabin pressure.

You can try to remedy the sinus pain when landing by taking the following steps:

  • Keep your mouth closed
  • Close your nostrils with one hand
  • Very gently, try to exhale out of your nose slowly
  • Continue until the pressure is lessened

Depending on your issue and history of sinus pressure, you may have access to medications, which can provide temporary relief while flying. Decongestants can also proactively prevent sinus pain caused by flying by increasing airflow in your sinuses if taken in advance of your flight.

For permanent relief, have your sinuses checked and treated by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor. Get the answers you want and the treatment and support you need with Bella Vista ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery. Schedule an appointment today!