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Since last couple of years I've started experiencing pretty severe cutting pains in the left eyebrow region on plane landing. The strange thing is that it doesn't happen every time. I think it's like 50/50. One time it hurts like hell and the other time it's nothing at all.

A week ago I had it very bad on my way to a vacation. It hurt for 2 days after we landed. And on the way back it didn't hurt at all.

So I guess there must be some factors that affect this and some ways to prevent or at least minimize the probability and severity of the pain. I've heard that this could be related to stuffed nose. So, even though I had no noticeable cold, I tried to blow my nose when the plane started descending on the way back and that might be what helped. But it's hard to tell for sure since, as mentioned above, it didn't happen on every landing anyway. Maybe it just depends on the landing "style" (speed, etc.) and there's nothing I can do about it.

Any advice?

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I would say it sounds like a sinus issue. I would see a doctor. –  Ginamin Sep 23 '11 at 6:33
    
I don't think this is travel specific. You're better off asking on a health forum. I always seem to suffer from peeling skin on my fingers and palms when I travel but haven't asked about it here for the same reason. –  hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 14:26
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I had a similar pain when I flew with full sinuses. I find it's worse with short hops because the planes climb and descend much faster. In this case, it was ONT/PHX. In the US, Vicks Nasal Inhaler can help clear sinuses enough to get through the landing. –  mkennedy Sep 23 '11 at 15:36
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hippietrail: I've never ever had these pains except for planes descending. And I don't own a plane, so I don't use planes for anything else but travel. That's why I'm asking here. –  Alan Mendelevich Sep 24 '11 at 7:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It's probably the air pressure change causing pain from sinus pressure. Try blowing your nose before descent, and chewing gum or eating during descent.

Babies have a problem with this, too, although it's probably in the ears. That's why they cry during the descent.

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Apparently this phenomenon is called "Airplane Headache" and scientist are looking into it. http://www.cnbc.com/id/47226552

Blowing my nose constantly on landing seems to be really helping. And using some nasal spray is another sure way to avoid this. At least for me.

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This is almost certainly air pressure related.

It's also not a mysterious phenomenon at all. In particular the problem arises in scuba diving and has been solved*. No need to resort to folk remedies like gum and blowing your nose, the cause is known and the solutions are well documented.

Briefly: when a plane lands cabin pressure increases. The tubes that connect your sinuses to your nose and throat can be clogged, resulting in sub-atmospheric pressure in your sinuses, which is what causes the pain. If you can unclog the tubes (even momentarily) or force air through them the pain will go away.

Personally, I pinch my nose, close my mouth, and try to blow out. For the related ear pain, many people can train themselves to use "béance tubaire volontaire" (hold their eustachian tubes open), which is much gentler than other methods.

*scuba divers routinely experience pressure increases of several atmospheres, since a 10 meter dive under water increases pressure by one atmosphere (note that a landing plane can never experience a pressure increase in excess of 1 atm).

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