How To Avoid Sinus Issues on an Airplane

June 1, 2017

3 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

When you’re planning a summer getaway, seasonal allergies and sinus problems are probably the last things on your mind. That said, if your travel plans involves flying, you may immediately run into sinusitis issues. No need to opt for train tickets if you consider taking the following steps to reduce sinus pain during flight.

Why Do Airplanes Cause Sinus Pain?

Sinusitis happens when your sinuses, which are typically filled with air, become blocked off by fluid buildup. This buildup leads to feelings of intense pressure and facial pain, and sometimes these conditions are accompanied by fatigue, coughing, sneezing and even fever.

Flying increases air pressure in your head. For people with sinusitis, this pressure can lead to clogged sinuses and other painful symptoms. Beating sinus problems at 30,000 feet means addressing your congestion early on and helping your body handle the pressure properly.

Avoid Sinus Pain on an Airplane By:

1. Staying Hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help your body resist the effects of poor ventilation and high altitude. Before and during the flight, make sure you drink about 5-8 glasses of water in order to maintain healthy levels of hydration.

Invest in a Saline Solution. For a long flight, saline solution can be a dream come true for people with sinusitis. A small amount of this solution once per hour to help diminish the drying effects of being on an airplane.

Avoid Caffeinated/Alcoholic Beverages. On a long flight, sometimes a nice coffee or a cold beer can really help you enjoy your time in the air. Alcohol and caffeine both dehydrate your body, and if the environment already lacks humidity, that tasty beverage can start to agitate your sinusitis even more than the flight itself.

While it may be tempting to enjoy a nice coffee or cold beer, these beverages are actually quite dehydrating. With the environment already lacking so much humidity, these drinks can further agitate your sinusitis.

Use a Decongestant Spray Before Takeoff. As previously mentioned, keeping your congestion at bay from the very beginning is the best way to avoid in-air sinus problems. Before your flight, visit the pharmacy and pick up a decongestant spray from the nasal aisle and use it right before you board the flight.

Wear Warmer Clothes. To seal the deal, be sure to wear warmer layers. While the cold air may slow down the spread of germs, it can also lower your immunity system making you more susceptible to any potential viruses.

Discover Long-term Sinusitis Solutions at Kaplan Sinus Relief

If you suffer from frequent sinus infections, there are alternative options to consider such as balloon sinuplasty. Stop relying on over-the-counter medications and seek long term solutions by scheduling a consultation at Kaplan Sinus Relief. Dr. Kaplan will assess your sinus issues and determine a custom treatment plan that’s perfect for you and your needs. Don’t spend another season in pain or discomfort! Schedule your appointment today.


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Houston, TX 77098