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Why did I have such severe pain in the eye while flying?

Q: When I was on a flight yesterday and day before yesterday, during descent I had severe pain above my left eye behind the eyebrow. The pain was very sharp. It was so sharp that I feared it would burst a vein or nerve. After sometime the pain became mild. I have not had this kind of a pain earlier. I doubt the altitude of this flight was more than my previous flights. I had mild cold and I have sinusitis too. I have to fly again soon. How do I cope with this pain?

A:During ascent, descent or sudden change in altitude due to change in atmospheric pressure, there is change in sinuses or middle ear air cavities. There is a tube, which is called the Eustachian tube, which connects these sinuses to the pharynx and this balances the change in atmospheric air pressures but when you have cold or nasal blockage this tube gets blocked and causes imbalance. This may cause pain or even rupture of tympanic membrane in the ear especially in children. This is the reason in some flights we are offered sweets to chew or suck upon, which helps to open up the Eustachian tube. If not, you should do Valsalvas manoeuver i.e. blow air with your nose and mouth closed to blow out the cheeks. Then you will feel change in ear and sinus cavities, which will help to reduce pain by forcing air into these cavities.

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