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Sinus Squeeze

Sinus Squeeze Definition and Overview

Patient Comments

Sinus squeeze, a condition where pressure inside a sinus cavity causes pain, commonly occurs when a scuba diver cannot equalize sinus pressure due to nasal congestion. This is also called (sinus) barotrauma. There are four pairs of sinuses in the skull. Each sinus has a narrow connection (air passageway) into the nasal cavity, which allows air to move back and forth and keep the pressure equal between the inside of the sinus and the outside surrounding area. If air pressure cannot equalize during a divers descent then a vacuum develops in the sinus cavity. The frontal sinus is most commonly affected; sinus squeeze can occur in other conditions that cause rapid changes in pressure such as sky diving or in individuals that enter pressure chambers (for example, hyperbaric oxygen chambers).

The presence of a "cold" or upper respiratory tract infection increases the risk of developing sinus squeeze. Also those with nasal polyps or a deviated septum (the wall that divides the nostrils) can increase the chances of developing sinus squeeze.

Sinus Squeeze Symptoms

  • Pressure or pain in the forehead or around the teeth, cheeks, or eyes may occur.
  • The nose may bleed.
  • Pressure and pain increase with increased diving depth due to swelling of the lining of the sinus (mucosal lining) and also bleeding into the sinus.
  • When a diver ascends (goes back to the surface) the remaining air in the sinus expands and may force blood or mucus into the nose and mask.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/30/2016
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Sinus Squeeze - Patient Experience

Have you experienced sinus squeeze while scuba diving? What happened during your experience?


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dysbarism »

Although dysbarism includes problems associated with high altitude and aerospace endeavors, dysbarism also relates to the increasing pressures of descending under water that are usually experienced in free or assisted dives.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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