Flying With A Sinus Infection: Why Is It Painful?

For many people, their sinus infections and irritations flare up during a flight, when pressure is low.

Why is flying with allergies or a sinus infection more painful than being on the ground with one?

The main reason that flying with hay fever or any other sinus issue might be more painful than normal is due to air pressure. When the plane changes elevation during descent and ascent the sinuses must equilibrate to match the air pressure in the cabin but when the sinuses and eustachian tubes are blocked equilibration can be an issue. The pain occurs because of the restriction of air flow causing pressure in our sinuses. Any sinus conditions that cause congestion will impact equilibration and cause pain. These sinus conditions include:

  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Ear Infections
  • Sinus Infections

What Other Painful Symptoms Might Occur While Flying With A Sinus Infection?

Not only does flying with a sinus infection lead to pain, it can also lead to other inner ear symptoms. When the eustachian tube is blocked and pressure changes inside the ear it can lead to:

  • Vertigo - the feeling of moving or spinning while sitting still
  • Tinnitus - ringing or perception of noise in the ears
  • Hearing Loss
  • Rupture of the Tympanic Membrane of the Eardrum - in rare cases

What Do I Do If Flying With Allergies Is My Only Option?

The best way to avoid pain and complications is to not fly with an active sinus or ear infection but what if you have to fly? If you must fly with sinus issues there are some steps you can take to reduce the blockages and avoid the pain.

  • Take either oral or topical decongestants before the flight to avoid blockages
  • Take over the counter pain medications to reduce the pain from the air pressure
  • Chew gum or swallow frequently to “pop” the ears
  • Use the Valsalva Maneuver - Hold your nose and try to exhale through a closed mouth to “pop” the ears
  • Use “Ear Planes” - ear plugs developed to regulate air pressure in the ears

Are You Sick Of Flying With Allergies or Infections?

If you are sick of constantly flying with a sinus infection or allergies you should schedule an appointment with us at the Lubbock Sinus Doctor. We know how painful the symptoms of sinus infections are and we will work with you to get you breathing again quickly.

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Texas Sinus Sufferers: What's Your Sinus IQ?

Sinusitis affects over 35 million Americans every year.

Our Sinus Self-Assessment Quiz will help you understand how sinus symptoms are impacting your daily life.

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