How To Manage Sinus Pain While Flying

woman sitting on a plane with aerosinusitis
ENT Health & Sinus Blog >>

Flying can be stressful enough as it is, but throwing sinus pain into the mix can make air travel unbearable. So why do some people suffer from sinus pain when they fly, also known as aerosinusitis, and how can it be managed?

What causes sinus pain to occur while flying?

The sinus cavities play a crucial role in our immune system, but when they become blocked or inflamed, you begin to experience sinus pressure. The increasing pressure leads to sinus pain that can usually be felt around the nose, cheekbones, eyes, and forehead. Bending over may make it worse.

When flying, the body has to react to changes in cabin pressure during the flight. Your sinuses and ears can usually adjust quickly to the changing pressure so that you avoid pain or injury. However, when you are suffering from an underlying sinus issue, your sinuses may be slow to react, causing immense sinus pain while flying. Some underlying conditions that can cause your sinuses to adjust slowly to changing pressure include:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Acute, chronic, or recurrent sinusitis
  • Ear infection

Sinusitis is one of the most common causes of chronic sinus pain while flying. At Cumberland Valley ENT, we can diagnose and treat sinusitis before your next flight.

I don’t want severe sinus pressure on my next flight 

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs when the mucous membranes in the sinuses cannot drain properly due to inflammation or a blockage. It can lead to chronic sinus pain and infections. Some sinus infections include:

  • Sinus pressure
  • Headaches
  •  Fatigue
  •  Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Face pain
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Halitosis

If you suffer from a combination of these symptoms for several weeks at a time, you may be suffering from chronic sinusitis. Cumberland Valley ENT offers a long-term minimally invasive sinusitis treatment called Balloon Sinuplasty.

Balloon Sinuplasty gently opens up your sinuses so that they can drain again, relieving any chronic sinus pain you may be suffering from.

I want more info about Balloon Sinuplasty

How to prevent sinus pain while flying?

Getting long-term relief from the underlying sinus condition that causes your sinus pain is the best way to relieve your sinus pain while flying. However, that’s not always possible if you have a flight coming up soon.


Two of the most common ways to manage sinus pain while flying are chewing gum or sipping water during take-off and landing. You can also try taking medications such as decongestants or using the Valsalva maneuver.

The Valsalva Maneuver
  1. Close your mouth.
  2. Squeeze the nostrils closed with one finger.
  3. Gently attempt to exhale out of your nose while keeping your nose pinched and mouth closed.
  4. Continue until you relieve the pressure.

Flying with sinus infection pain does not have to last forever.

At Cumberland Vallery ENT, we can diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your sinus problems. We can work with you to discuss your history of sinus pain and your overall health goals to create a treatment plan that will be specific to you.

Schedule now