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Your sinuses are air-filled spaces around your nose and eyes. They are found:
- inside your cheekbones
- behind your forehead above your eyes
- behind the bridge and upper part of your nose and between your eyes
- set deeply behind the upper part of your nose and between your eyes
Sinusitis is caused by an infection of the lining of your nose. This is usually a viral infection, though it can be bacterial. For more information, see our section: Causes of sinusitis.
The main symptoms of sinusitis are pain and a feeling of pressure in your face. You may also get a blocked or stuffy nose, green or yellow mucus coming from your nose, a raised temperature, a cough and a general feeling of being unwell. For more information, see our section: Symptoms of sinusitis.
Flying can cause pain in your sinuses. When you’re in an aircraft, the pressure inside the cabin changes. So, the air inside your sinuses expands or shrinks according to the pressure. If your sinuses are blocked or inflamed, the air inside them gets trapped, which can be painful.
You may wish to delay your flight until your symptoms have gone away. If you have to fly, using a decongestant spray or drops may help to relieve your symptoms. Use this just before the flight and just before the plane starts to descend for landing. You may also find it helps to do a Valsalva manoeuvre. This is when you hold your nose and try to breathe out through a closed mouth.
Nasal polyps are fleshy swellings of the lining of your nose and sinuses. They look like small grapes, or clusters of grapes, in your nose. We aren’t sure why people get nasal polyps, but it has been suggested that they’re linked to an allergy or infection.
The polyps can cause a blocked nose as well as sneezing, itching, a runny nose, and a poor sense of taste and smell. They can also block your sinuses, so you may be more likely to have sinus infections too.
Nasal polyps can be treated with a nasal corticosteroid spray. You would use this for three months at first, to see if it eases your symptoms. If it works, you can keep using it, with a check-up every six months.
If the nasal spray doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your nasal polyps. Surgery should improve your symptoms, but the polyps may come back.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
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