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Sinus Tips For Holiday Air Travelers

The holidays are finally here. And, for most of us, holidays include: buying a plane ticket, packing luggage and boarding a plane. Unfortunately, roughly 21% of passengers report cold and flu-like symptoms seven days after flying. Why is that? Is it because of passengers in close quarters? Or recirculated air in the cabin? Perhaps, the increasing change in altitude? Yes, yes and yes! Several factors take part in causing the stuffiness, facial pressure, and nagging post-nasal drip that passengers experience. More importantly, if these symptoms are common for everyday people, imagine how it would affect those who suffer from acute or chronic sinus related issues.

With this in mind, it’s critical to take the right steps before and after your trip to maintain sinus health. So take action and make your next flying experience a whole lot better with our sinus tips below!

1. Get a good night’s sleep before and after your flight.

First things first, get a good night’s rest to prevent your sinuses from driving you crazy this season. Not only will you be more energized but your immune system will have a better chance of fighting off illnesses.

2. Arrive at the airport at least an hour early.

We’ve all heard it before, either from our doctor, family or friends, stress is bad. So show up ahead of time and avoid the worry of missing your flight. Apart from causing anxiety in people, stress also contributes to fatigue and a weaker immune response.

Use the free time before your flight wisely and take decongestants, this will alleviate sinus congestion caused by pressure changes in the cabin mid-flight.

3. Eat before leaving for the airport.

A week before your trip, eat a diet that mainly contributes to sinus health. Foods that are known to reduce inflammation are tomatoes, ginger, eggs, and avocados. Dishes containing foods such as salmon, garlic, or leafy greens are fantastic for boosting your immunity. The proper nutrition will stop your sinuses from flaring up and causing uncomfortable nasal pressure during the flight. Great anti-inflammatory snacks to bring on the plane are nuts, berries, apples, and pears!

4. Take grape seed extract before your preflight meal.

Grape seed has a wide range of benefits from anti-aging properties to controlling blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. Aside from these qualities, the grape extract also contains Resveratrol which is well known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Therefore taking 100mg of the extract before your preflight meal can reduce inflammation in your sinuses and fend off any germs other passengers are carrying on the plane.

5. Take antioxidants.

One of the worst symptoms of a sinus-related sickness has to be a stuffy nose and the worsening pressure during air travel. Taking antioxidants before and after flights can help keep your sinuses open and relieve facial pressure. Vitamin A promotes healthy mucous membranes and eases nasal congestion. Zinc shortens cold symptoms including nasal discharge and improves immune function. Vitamin C fights harmful free radicals and reduces the severity of respiratory infections.

6. Drink lots of water before, during, and after the flight.

The dry air and low pressure in plane cabins can wreak havoc on your sinuses, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Some experienced flyers suggest drinking between five and eight glasses of water before flying. Drinking water not only ensures proper hydration levels in the body but more importantly preserves a moist, healthy nasal system.

7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

If you know you’re someone who regularly struggles with getting in your eight glasses of water a day, it’s best to stay away from caffeine and alcohol. You’re probably thinking, “Well aren’t those beverages that contain water?” Yes, but they’re both diuretics which make you lose more water than you take in. Drinking hot herbal tea is a better alternative especially if you breathe in the steam, it’ll keep your sinuses moist throughout the flight. So stay hydrated and stay away from the coffee and wine…on your trip at least.

8. Use a saline nasal spray.

A saline nasal spray decreases secretions in your sinuses and removes agitating allergens. The saline spray acts as a humidifier to battle dryness in your nasal cavities, which keeps mucus moving and gets rid of germs that can lead to inflammation or infection. The overhead air and reduced oxygen in planes can lead to irritation in sinus cavities, so saline sprays are essential to keep in hand.

9. Travel with a negative-ion generator.

If you’ve never heard of a negative-ion generator, you’ll be surprised to know that they do wonders for the air quality of rooms. In high concentrations, negative ions clear the air of mold spores, pollen, dust, bacteria, and other hazardous airborne particles. They do this by attaching to the all the positively charged particles above, making them so heavy they fall to the ground and are no longer airborne. Once these particles are no longer airborne, they cannot be inhaled or cause respiratory issues.

Symptoms are sometimes hard to distinguish. A couple of hours after your flight, you may feel fatigue or stuffy. Remember, it could just be the flight or it may also be the beginning symptoms of a common cold, allergies or chronic sinusitis. To find out how to differentiate between the three, read our article here.

What Else Can I do to Promote My Sinus Health During Air Travel?

If you still have questions regarding the best ways to keep your sinuses healthy during holiday travel or are suffering from sinus related issues, please feel free to consult with Dr. Arjuna Kuperan, a board certified rhinologist. You can call (713) 791- 0700 to seek advice or schedule a consultation at one of our locations. And for those of you always on the go, you can easily book an appointment online here.

We’re here to help

If you are frustrated by frequent sinus infections, persistent nasal congestion, or other sinus symptoms, Dr. Arjuna Kuperan and the team at Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus can help. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule your consultation.

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