Barometric pressure--the weight of atmospheric air pressing on a geographic area--changes continuously, accompanying local weather shifts. If you have preexisting sinus diseases or migraine headaches, barometric pressure changes can trigger agonizing sinus and nasal pain. You can take steps to relieve the pain and determine what is causing your sinuses' reaction to barometric pressure changes.
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Keep a diary of sinus pain attacks, listing the dates and symptoms, so that you will have a record for your doctors. Write down the weather conditions on those days, including the barometric pressure. Ask your relatives if any type of sinus headaches runs in your family.
Consult an allergist and an ear, nose and throat specialist to find out if other medical problems are making your sinuses reactive to barometric pressure, as recommended by MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health. Once these problems are healed or stabilized, your sinus attacks may disappear through treatments such as antibiotics, nasal allergy sprays or surgery.
Visit a neurologist if previous sinus tests show no signs of disease, or if you have been treated for a sinus ailment but you continue to get sinus pain when barometric pressure changes occur. According to a 2007 paper published in the journal "Headache" by Dr. Eric Eross of the Arizona Neurological Institute, you may be suffering from facial migraines, a form of migraine in which the pain and pressure are experienced in your sinuses and nasal passages. If you are diagnosed with facial migraines, you will receive recommendations for over-the-counter and prescription medications to take at the first signal that you are having a sinus pain attack.
Experiment with various methods that may help you with sinus pain caused by barometric pressure changes while you are waiting for your migraine, allergy, painkiller or antibiotic medications to kick in. If you suffer from facial migraines, place a cold compress over your sinuses, lie down in a dark room, and go to sleep. If your sinus attacks stem from other causes, consider lying down and using either a warm or cold compress over your sinuses; going for a walk; sitting in a room with a humidifier; or inhaling steam by sitting in the bathroom with the shower running. If your sinuses swell up and close during sinus attacks, try placing a nasal strip across the bridge of your nose to hold your nasal passages open and use a decongestant nasal inhaler. No technique works for everyone, so keep trying strategies until you find one that works for you.
Try preventive techniques in addition to your physician's recommended medications. For example, the National Jewish Health Network's online article and video "Nasal Wash Treatment" recommends mixing table salt and water together and sniffing it up both nostrils every day, thereby removing bacteria, allergens and excess mucous from your nose. Other preventive techniques include giving up smoking, drinking plenty of fluids to thin out your sinus mucous and keeping a humidifier in your bedroom.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- MedlinePlus: Sinusitis
- Weather.com: Types of Health Conditions
- National Jewish Health Network: Nasal Wash Treatment
- American Institute for Preventive Medicine: Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
- "Headache"; The Sinus, Allergy and Migraine Study; Dr. Eric Eross et al.; 2007
- MayoClinic.com: Sinus headaches
- "Neurology"; Weather and air pollution; Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal et al.; 2009
- Medical News Today: Breakthrough In Migraine Genetics