Air Travel and Your Sinuses, Is It Safe?

Air Travel and Your Sinuses, Is It Safe?

Air Travel and Your Sinuses, Is It Safe?
You may not be aware, but traveling on a plane when you have a severe cold or sinus infection can be quite painful. Air travel and sinuses don’t always mix well, especially when you are feeling under the weather. Inside the plane’s cabin, air pressure changes during lift-off and when the plane descends which affects the air outside and inside your head. While this isn’t usually a comfortable feeling to begin with, if you have congested sinuses, this can be a painful experience. However, it’s not just the changes in pressure you need to worry about. Increased infectious agents and low moisture can increase your chances of sinusitis. Inside the plane, everyone is in close quarters and the air is ridden with bacteria and viruses, so it’s no surprise that flying can contribute to your sinus troubles. Luckily, there are ways to balance air travel and your sinuses for those times when you have no choice but to fly.

While it’s advised to avoid air travel when you are sick, in some cases, it may be unavoidable. When this occurs, it is crucial to tackle this problem head-on before and during the flight. If you are looking for ways to balance air travel and your sinuses, check out these helpful tips that can help minimize or prevent sinus pain and pressure while flying.

• If your flight is long (i.e., flying cross country or international), be sure to drink 5-8 glasses of water before and during the flight. Drinking water and staying hydrated will help combat the dry air when you are sitting in the plane’s cabin by helping your nasal system remain moist.

• An hour before you board your flight and before descent, use a decongestant spray to help clean out your nasal passages, or take an oral decongestant an hour before your flight. So make sure you carry either one with you for your flight to help you breathe better.

• While it may be tempting, refrain from drinking alcohol and caffeine during long flights. Both of these beverages can contribute to a loss of moisture and dehydration, so avoid these drinks at all cost. Opt for water to help keep you hydrated instead.

• During liftoff and when landing, perform the Valsalva maneuver to help clear the sinuses and normalize the pressure inside your head. To perform the Valsalva maneuver, close your mouth while lightly pinching your nose shut with your forefinger and thumb. Without releasing your fingers, swallow and blow your nose.

• To help combat the damaging effects of low humidity and dry air that’s found in the cabin, bring along an over-the-counter saline solution. They are travel sizes available, so make sure you pack one in your stow-away bag. Use the saline solution approximately once an hour to help minimize any damage and keep your nose moisturized.

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