Why Do I Have Sinus Pain While Flying?

By Stephen Chandler, MD |26 July 2021|

With an increase in air travel over the years, doctors are noticing a direct correlation between air travel and sinus pain. Air travel can also be associated with sneezing, intense sinus pressure, and thick discharge. Maybe you’ve experienced some of these symptoms yourself?

As it turns out, the process of going 30,000 feet into the stratosphere can take a toll on your sinuses — even if the cabin is properly pressurized. The result can often be a real headache. The barometric differential combined with dry, recirculated air can effectively dry out your nose and cause your sinus lining to swell. When these passageways become blocked they are no longer able to effectively drain.   

But the fun doesn’t stop there, these conditions can feel like acute sinusitis; a short term inflammation of the membranes within your sinuses. These symptoms include headache, fatigue, nasal drip, congestion, coughing, and sore throat. The sinus pain can last for days after your flight and really put a damper on an otherwise pleasant trip.

If you already suffer from chronic sinus infections then unfortunately your symptoms can be exacerbated at high altitudes. Intense sinus pressure and ear pain might also follow. I know this from experience, after flying with a cold and sinus congestion, I couldn’t hear properly for 2 days and suffered from intense pain in my ears!

If you suffer from sinusitis or sinus pain while flying, one way to prepare for your next flight is with a good rinsing device — I sure wish I had. Complete Rinse is a nasal rinsing device that allows you to comfortably wash your nasal passages without fear of choking or gagging. Find it below on our website. 

Dr. Stephen Chandler is a practicing Otolaryngologist in Montgomery, Alabama and owner of Sandler Scientific, LLC, makers of CompleteRinse®. To schedule a visit with Dr. Chandler call 334-834-7221 Learn more at https://www.jacksonclinicent.org/. Complete Rinse is available on Amazon and at www.completerinse.com.