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Getting sharp pain all over body after few hours of flying. What is causing this?

Jun 2015
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Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2011
Answered : 3337 Questions
Hello, when I get on the airplane everything is fine. But when it reaches exactly 4 hours on the plane I receive this excruciating immense pain that is unbearable. It lasts about 15-20 minutes and then goes away. However, I am scared to fly on a plane more than 4 hours because this pain occurs. It makes my whole body hot. My ears hurt. But for the most part the pain is a shocking pain in my eyebrows, and on my forehead. It hurts so bad! I need to go on a 10 hour direct flight to Brasil and I am avoiding it because I do not know how to treat this or what it is!
Posted Thu, 7 Mar 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Polash Sannigrahi 2 hours later

The symptoms as mentioned in your post suggest that you might be having Otitic Barotrauma & Sinus Barotrauma.

There is a connecting tract between the nasopharynx & middle ear (known as Eustachian tube) which helps in maintenance of equal pressure between the middle ear & naso pharynx.
And in cases of high altitude flying (air travel) there occurs a pressure difference between the air in middle ear & the air in external environment.
This leads to un-equal pressure between the nasopharynx & middle ear causing symptoms like fullness in ear and pain.
Similarly, Sinus Barotrauma is caused due to a difference in air pressures inside and outside the paranasal sinuses, which results in pain over eyebrows and forehead (as mentioned in your post)
Symptoms aggravate in presence of an Swallowing, jaw movements or chewing during the course of flight- it maintains the patency of Eustachian tube
2. Valsalva's maneuver- forceful expiration with nostril & lips closed to keep the Eustachian tube open & maintain equalization of pressure.
3. Decongestant nasal drops to relieve obstruction.
4. Systemic decongestants like pseudoephidrine tablets.
5. Antihistamine preparations can also be used to provide symptomatic relief.

There is no need to worry.
Otitic Barotrauma & Sinus Barotrauma are very common medical problem associated with air travel & they can be prevented.
You can also consult an ENT specialist & get a proper examination of done to rule out any organic cause in the ear, nose or throat which may predispose to all these symptoms.

Wishing you a Good Health. Let me know if I need to clarify further.

Thanks & take care.
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