Avoiding Sinus Headaches During Descent

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How can I prevent sinus headaches on airplanes?

Avoiding Sinus Headaches During Descent

Have you ever suffered from the "ice-pick-in-the-forehead" pain during a flight's descent? If you have, you may have wondered whether your flying days are numbered. It can feel as if something inside your sinuses is going to literally explode, and recovery may take hours.

There is a solution. It's free and simple, and it doesn't even make you look too strange. Once you start feeling the pressure in your ears, as the plane descends, pinch your nose tightly shut with your fingers. Now, with your nose tightly clamped, take a deep breath and bear down with your whole body so that all the pressure of the air in your lungs is directed up into your sinuses and ears. You may feel a minor ticking sound inside your ears as your maneuver equalizes the pressure. Continue and repeat as needed until the plane is on the ground.

You will find that this practice is far more directly useful than chewing gum, and it can be taught to children at a fairly young age.



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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.