If you suffer from sinusitis, you may be wondering whether flying could make your symptoms worse. Sinusitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the sinus cavities, which can lead to painful pressure, headaches and even difficulty breathing. While flying itself may not cause sinusitis, it can aggravate existing symptoms and make them more uncomfortable.
New Yorkers are the most urbane and well-traveled people on the planet. Our climate is not friendly to sinusitis, and if you travel, you may experience repeated problems. Maurice M. Khosh, MD, FACS, is a New York Facial Plastic Surgeon who treats sinusitis effectively. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Does Flying Aggravate Sinusitis?
The main reason that flying can aggravate sinusitis is the change in air pressure that occurs during takeoff and landing. As the plane ascends or descends, the pressure in the cabin changes, which can cause a difference in pressure between the sinus cavities and the outside environment. This pressure difference can cause pain and discomfort in the sinuses, especially if they are already inflamed.
In addition to changes in air pressure, other factors associated with flying can also aggravate sinusitis. For example, the low humidity levels in airplane cabins can dry out the nasal passages and make them more susceptible to infection. The recycled air in the cabin can also increase the risk of exposure to germs and viruses, which can further exacerbate sinusitis symptoms.
What Can You Do to Minimize Symptoms?
If you have sinusitis and are planning to fly, there are several things you can do to minimize your symptoms and make your flight more comfortable. Here are some tips:
- Use a decongestant: Taking a decongestant before your flight can help to reduce inflammation in the sinuses and make breathing easier. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any medication, especially if you have other health conditions or are taking other medications.
- Use a saline spray: Using a saline nasal spray can help to keep the nasal passages moist and prevent them from drying out. This can reduce the risk of infection and minimize symptoms.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water during your flight can help to keep your nasal passages moist and reduce inflammation. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.
- Use a warm compress: Placing a warm compress over your sinuses can help to relieve pain and pressure. You can use a warm towel or a heated eye mask.
- Consider using a nasal spray or inhaler: If your symptoms are particularly severe, your doctor may recommend using a nasal spray or inhaler to help relieve congestion and reduce inflammation.
New York Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Maurice M. Khosh, MD, FACS, can also help relieve chronic sinusitis symptoms through endoscopic sinus surgery. This procedure uses a thin tube with a camera to look inside the sinuses. Dr. Khosh removes the damaged tissue and opens the blocked sinuses using small surgical instruments.
Another less invasive procedure that is more popular than ever is Balloon Sinuplasty. It involves inserting a tiny balloon into a congested sinus cavity and inflating it. This widens the hole, letting more fluid drain out and relieving symptoms.
Flying can aggravate sinusitis symptoms, but there are steps you can take to minimize discomfort and make your flight more comfortable. If you suffer from sinusitis, talk to Dr. Khosh before your next flight to see how minimally invasive sinus surgery could help you.