As the clean-up efforts for Hurricane Matthew get underway, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly endless tasks associated with tending to damaged property and homes. However, hurricanes can also do damage to your health, including your sinuses.
Sinus treatments have come a long way. If you suffer from chronic sinusitis or related conditions, you don’t have to suffer anymore. See an ENT Specialist to explore your treatment options.
Why Hurricanes Wreak Havoc on Your Sinuses
If you have an older relative or neighbor who swears they can “feel” or “sense” a storm in their bones, there is a good chance they’re correct. Storms affect atmospheric pressure — also called barometric pressure — which is the pressure of the air in the earth’s atmosphere.
This air might feel insubstantial when you wave your hand around in it or let it blow back your hair when you drive with the windows down, but it is quite heavy when you add it all up. In fact, the total mass of all the air on the planet is about 5.5 quadrillion tons, which is nothing to sneeze at — even though it might make you sneeze.
Hurricanes and other strong storms can cause massive dips in this pressure. The low pressure caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was so powerful it actually destroyed a barometer that had previously recorded the atmospheric pressure readings for Hurricane Camille 36 years earlier.
Aristotle is credited with saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Your sinuses are no exception. When the pressure in the earth’s atmosphere drops suddenly and dramatically, the air pressure inside your nose fights to stay in balance with the pressure on the outside. However, because the barometric pressure during a hurricane drops so low, your sinuses tend to overcompensate by swelling with air and fluid. As you might expect, this can lead to headaches, pain, and an intolerable build-up of pressure.
Ways to Get Relief
If you’re dealing with uncomfortable sinus pressure following Hurricane Matthew, there are several things you can try to get some relief.
Sleep inclined or sitting up. Gravity is your friend when you’re suffering from sinus pressure. Skip bed and choose a comfortable recliner instead. This will reduce the blood pressure in your head, which can also reduce vasodilation. You can also try propping yourself up with pillows.
Get steamy. When your sinuses are congested, drying them out may seem like the best treatment option. However, dryness is likely to cause additional irritation, which can exacerbate the problem. Instead, try taking a warm bath or shower, which will produce soothing steam. You can also purchase steam inhalers that relieve discomfort by flooding your nasal passages with warm, moist air. In a pinch, you can also heat water on the stove and inhale the steam, but use caution to avoid getting scalded.
Stay hydrated. Your body is one giant organism, and all of your systems are connected. Drink plenty of water. The extra fluid can thin mucus and help relieve pressure in your sinuses.
Apply a hot towel. A hot compress applied directly to your face can relieve sinus pressure. You can use a towel, and some stores even sell bean bags and other compresses that are microwave-safe and made specifically for sinus relief.
Contact a Boynton Beach ENT Specialist about Your Sinuses
If you have tried and failed to get relief at home for painful and uncomfortable sinus pressure, it’s time to see a doctor. Call today to speak to a Boynton Beach ENT Specialist about your health.