Symptoms and Signs of Sinus Squeeze

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/30/2021

Doctor's Notes on Sinus Squeeze

A sinus squeeze (also termed sinus barotrauma) is a condition where pressure inside a sinus cavity causes pain. Signs and symptoms include

  • pressure/pain in the forehead, teeth, cheeks, and/or eyes;
  • the nose may bleed; and
  • the pain and pressure increase when a person has a rapid change in environmental pressure (scuba divers, airline passengers, hyperbaric treatments, for example).

The cause of sinus squeeze is an inability to equalize entrapped air in the sinus with that in the environment because of congestion or blockage of sinus openings (for example, polyps, deviated septum) into the nasal cavity.

What Are the Treatments for a Sinus Squeeze?

Treatment of a sinus squeeze is as follows:

  • Apply warm compresses to the face.
  • Avoid diving until all symptoms abate.
  • Oral pseudoephedrine and topical nasal sprays should be used to open sinuses.
  • Oral steroids (such as prednisone) for a few days may help reduce symptoms.
  • Relieve pain with acetaminophen tablets or ibuprofen tablets.
  • People with upper respiratory infections or chronic sinus problems should take an oral decongestant prior to flight and a nasal decongestant spray just prior to descent to avoid pressure-related problems.
  • If symptoms persist and/or increase, a visit to your doctor is recommended.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.