painful pressure today

cforst513

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today i was putzing along at 8,000, and i was cleared to 3,000, my discretion. so i pulled the power back a bit and started a gentle 500fpm descent. i was still about 20nm away from the airport, so i figured i'd take it easy. about 7,000, i felt the first pop. i yawned and it cleared my ears, no prob. around 6,000 though, i felt a pain i have only felt one other time while flying, that time in an airliner. i didn't feel the typical pressure in my ears. this was a sharp, biting pain pain in my head, pretty much on the left side, and no amount of yawning, swallowing, or closing my nose and trying to blowout of it helped. furthermore, the pain spread to my jawbone and teeth!!!! very sharp, very painful. what gives? is that a sinus thing too? any of you guys deal with this?
 

jetexas

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Probably a sinus block. I had one as a kid riding as pax. It felt like one side of my face was gonna explode..stabbing pain like a million tiny needles. my teeth hurt then too.
I carry a little bottle of afrin in my flight kit now just in case.
 

cforst513

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afrin is nose spray, right? never heard of it before.
 

PCL_128

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Do the Valsalva Maneuver: Close your mouth, pinch your nose, and blow. Unless you have a severe sinus problem, then it should push some higher pressure air into the sinus passages and eliminate the pain.
 

jetexas

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afrin is a nasal/sinus decongestant. It comes in a little spray bottle that you stick in your nose. It can work for earblocks too.
 

FN FAL

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PCL_128 said:
Do the Valsalva Maneuver: Close your mouth, pinch your nose, and blow. Unless you have a severe sinus problem, then it should push some higher pressure air into the sinus passages and eliminate the pain.
I have to do that all the time. In fact I just do it ahead of time now, just so I don't have such a big adjustment after I do it. And I don't have sinus problems or alergies.

You know what, it might sound kind of funny, but I think the slower you descend the worse it gets.

I've made jump after jump and tons of rapid descents flying jumpers and never had much of a problem with clearing the tubes. However, it seems that when you nurse the altitude changes, it increases the difficulty. At least for me it does.
 

CitationXDriver

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FN FAL said:
I have to do that all the time. In fact I just do it ahead of time now, just so I don't have such a big adjustment after I do it.
I have been told that the Valsalva should be used sparingly?? I knew a girl in college who supposedly injured her ear and suffered hearing loss from doing it multiple times a day. Any docs out there that can confirm or deny this??
 

FN FAL

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CitationXDriver said:
I have been told that the Valsalva should be used sparingly?? I knew a girl in college who supposedly injured her ear and suffered hearing loss from doing it multiple times a day. Any docs out there that can confirm or deny this??
You probably shouldn't jump on a Valsava like you're starting a husqvarna chainsaw...it wouldn't be prudent. I do them all the time...just don't blow your brains out while you're at it.
 

CitationXDriver

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Im not sure what sort of method your using to start your chainsaw......but OKHaHa, guess you should have got a Stihl!
 

Tram

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Ok well.. this one was too good not to use.. :)
 

FN FAL

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CitationXDriver said:
Im not sure what sort of method your using to start your chainsaw......but OKHaHa, guess you should have got a Stihl!
:D I guess Husqvarna was a bad example, because those actually start easier than a Valsava. :D
 

Snakum

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Do the Valsalva Maneuver
Or, as an alternative, you might try the 'Feckner Maneuver'. But just don't do it in public, unless you wanna wind up on a list somewhere. :(


Minhberg
 

Swede

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For some reason, Afrin doesn't work for me but Sudafed does. If my tubes feel a bit "stiff" going up, I'll prepare for the descent with a sudafed dose approx 1 hr before descent begins. Medications are always a last resort but they're good to have on hand in a pinch. Once you've had an episode like the one you've described, you'll never want to repeat it.
 

Four Strings

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CitationXDriver said:
I have been told that the Valsalva should be used sparingly?? I knew a girl in college who supposedly injured her ear and suffered hearing loss from doing it multiple times a day. Any docs out there that can confirm or deny this??
It has also been linked to pnuemothorax (collapsed lung) or pnumomediastinum. If you exhale to hard while holding your nose, you could rupture your lung if you have any weak spots. If I can find the article again, I will post it.

FS
 
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cforst513

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i tried the valvoline method but it didn't do anything to help ease the pain. the weirdest thing was that it felt like my jaw bone and teeth were hollow and filled with pins. i've been as high as 9,000 but had no issues coming down.
 

Flying Illini

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cforst, I feel your pain...literally.

I was working on my commercial and we were returning to the airport. I'd had a great flight (pre-checkride checkride) and we were relaxed and chatting. I will preface this with the fact that I do have allergies and my nose is completely clear only about 4 months out of the year (I just walk around with a kleenex in my pocket, it sucks). I find that sudafed works wonders for me as well. Anyway...we were in the descent and were doing it fairly rapidly (can't remember why) but the pain started out slowly but then became severe very very quickly. It was like someone was stabbing me with an ice pick just above my left eye. It felt like my eye was going to pop out of it's socket! My left cheek felt like it was going to explode and my teeth...well that pain is seared in my mind forever. As the pain progessed from bad to severe I began to level off. I admit I was starting to get a little scared, this had never happened before and the pain was worse than anything I could ever imagine. My left eye had begun watering and my vision was blurry to boot. My instructor asked me what I was doing and all I got out was "sinuses." At that point I pulled back on the yoke to initiate a climb my thought being that I needed to get back up to equalize the pressure. The pain then became debilitating, seriously. I said "your airplane, climb." I was also grunting a bit. He took control and we climbed as rapidly as an arrow will climb, about 2000'. After a thousand, the pain eased and after 2000 I regained my vision and composure. It was incredibly scary to me, I had never been debilitated by pain...ever and never have I felt out of control in an airplane. My instructor was an older guy who was a career instructor. (he actually went to HS with my dad, it was fun to find that out) he said he had seen a lot but that I scared him. He figured out what was wrong when I said "sinuses" but he had no idea how bad it was and was shocked when I said "your plane" and released the controls.
After this, we initiated a slow descent. I had slight pain and was very scared that the pain would return. I asked him to fly us the rest of the way home. He landed and it took the better part of that day for my sinuses to come down. This was pretty scary to me since I thought my flying dream was over.
I have since flown with more stuffiness than I had that day and have never had a problem like that. A few times, at the first hint of pain coming down from the flight levels, as we turn the cabin down towards field elevation, I will adjust the cabin rate of descent to 200-300 fpm, just so it doesn't happen.

I feel for ya, get some afrin and sudafed is freakin' amazing but only lasts me about 3-4 hrs. Welcome to the club!
 

cforst513

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see, that is interesting, b/c i don't have sinus issues nor do i have allergies. they have non-drowsy sudafed, right? i tend to avoid cold medicines b/c of the jittery feeling that i get. what about afrin? does it make you drowsy or jittery or anything?
 

FN FAL

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cforst513 said:
i tried the valvoline method but it didn't do anything to help ease the pain. the weirdest thing was that it felt like my jaw bone and teeth were hollow and filled with pins. i've been as high as 9,000 but had no issues coming down.
Try making the trip to 12,500 agl 10 or 15 times in a day. If you're having difficulties, it's not fun.
 

Flying Illini

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I have no problems with sudafed. No jitters and yes, it's non-drowsy. Just be careful, when you buy it they think you're a meth dealer. Play along, it's fun. I like to dress up in really nasty clothes and not wash my hair for a week so I look the part. I then look around nervously while buying it. After I get it I run out of the store. You should try to disguise your purchase with some alcohol, condoms, and cigarettes. It may throw them off of your trail!
I was very concerned about having problems with my sinuses when I went to Ok City for the altitude chamber. I took sudafed about an hour before we entered the chamber and once inside, I gave myself a squirt of afrin. (they allow and promote you to take the afrin with you, no pressurization probs with the bottle). I was probably being overcautious but you never no. Never had a problem. Ocassionally afrin will make me feel very dried out, on the plus side it seems to work very quickly.
 

Fury220

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cforst513 said:
see, that is interesting, b/c i don't have sinus issues nor do i have allergies. they have non-drowsy sudafed, right? i tend to avoid cold medicines b/c of the jittery feeling that i get. what about afrin? does it make you drowsy or jittery or anything?
Afrin is ok, but it's NOT a med to use on a regular basis. Around work, it's commonly called a "get me down" aid, and Afrin use by USAF aircrew is an automatic 3 day DNIF. Continuous Afrin use will make any tubular problem worse over time. Just as with every other OTC med in the plane, be careful.
 
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