Sinus Squeeze Definition and Overview
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.
Scott D. Fell, DO, FAAEM