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Could Flying Aggravate My Sinusitis?

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Posted on behalf of Maurice M. Khosh, MD, FACS

Maurice M. Khosh, MD, FACS
580 Park Avenue Suite 1BE,
New York, NY 10065
(212) 339-9988

What Dr. Khosh's Patients Say


Based on 174 reviews

Meredith G.
Saw Dr. Khosh for a fractured nose. He reset my nose beautifully (and with little discomfort to me) and then discussed some of my sinus issues with me upon my follow up visit. Never felt like he was rushing me out and felt very confident in his abilities. I would highly recommend to anyone needing plastic or reconstructive options!
Jackie C.
Great front office, really good experience after what was a terrible accident. I was made to feel comfortable. Dr. Khosh is very good at what he does. I'm still healing but I'm confident of the results
Kaitlin M.
Dr. Khosh takes exceptional care of his patients. He has operated on me twice, each time making me feel extremely comfortable and satisfied with the results. His staff is also very kind and knowledgeable.
Diana G.
Dr. Khosh & his staff Susan & Christine are absolutely amazing! They were so supportive & helpful from beginning to end & they are just wonderful people. Thank you guys I truly appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I would recommend them to anyone & everyone!
Joann M.
After visiting and being evaluated by several doctors, I kept going back to Dr. Khosh. His tranquil spirit and professionalism were captivating. Thank you for a job well done and keeping me calm throughout the entire process. A special thanks to your staff Susan and Christine for all of their support as well. Hi highly recommend Dr. Khosh.
Leah G.
Upon hearing of the overwhelmingly positive experience a friend of mine had in choosing Dr. Khosh as her surgeon, I decided to make an appointment for my own septoplasty/rhinoplasty/turbinate reduction. Although I was slightly skeptical as the praise I had heard seemed a bit hyperbolic, all uncertainty dissipated after meeting the Doctor and his staff. My pre- and post-operative experience was excellent in terms of concerns adequately addressed prior to the surgery and mitigation of any bruising in the convalescent period. Despite my apparent predisposition to rather slower healing, a year after the surgery, my nose looks really pretty and my breathing entirely unobstructed! I highly recommend Dr. Khosh!
Courtney G.
AMAZING!!!!!! I had Dr Khosh perform lipo on my chin/neck and my result is unbelievable! Better than I could have expected! I met with a couple of surgeons and the second I met with Dr Khosh I knew he was the one I was going with. He was compassionate and explained every detail of what would take place during the surgery and what to expect during recovery. I even emailed a few times during recovery with various questions and he got right back to me asap which was really comforting! I honestly fully recommend Dr Khosh, he did an amazing job and is an amazing person.
Frieda S.
i can finally breathe!! Dr. Khosh made the entire experience a breeze, it was truly a pleasure to be under his care. I am forever thankful and highly recommend him. Not only does his work speak for himself, but he has excellent bedside manner. His kindness and patience is above and beyond. He takes the time to answer to every question you have to help you understand the process while at the same time making you feel so comfortable. From the first consultation i knew i was in good hands. I am so pleased with the result and forever thankful.
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