The holiday season is commonly associated with traveling long distances to visit family and friends. For most of us, this means making airline reservations. However, your sinuses are prone to infection when you travel by plane.
Air travel severely affects your sinuses during liftoff and landing. The pressure within your sinuses and ears typically fails to equalize with that of the pressure inside the cabin. Increased pressure can wreak havoc on your sinuses, create congestion, and heighten allergies.
The following are helpful tips to minimize the damaging effects of air travel:
- Use a saline solution during the flight. It is the best way to defend your sinuses from damage caused by dry air and low humidity. Small bottles of saline solution can be found at your local drugstore. Spray each nostril once per hour to maintain moisture in your sinuses.
- Pack a decongestant spray (oxymetazoline or phenylephrine). Spray between one and two hours before your flight. Not only does it decongest your nasal passages, but decongestant spray allows you to breathe adequately and decrease the detrimental effects of cabin pressure changes.
- Drink at least five glasses of water before the flight. Over hydrating aids in combating the dry air within the cabin. Dry air is derived from poor ventilation and low humidity experienced at high altitudes. Consuming several glasses of water will help your body maintain a proper level of moisture.
- Steam your sinuses. To combat dry air, order a hot tea during your flight and breathe in the steam. The steam from the tea will cause your sinuses to feel more open, decreasing your chances of experiencing a sinus infection. Make sure you order herbal tea, since caffeine can cause dehydration.
- Dress warmly. Airplanes are normally kept at a very cool temperature, so dress warmly and comfortably to avoid feeling cold during your flight.