Headache during plane landing: why does it happen?

Landing a plane is a special moment for many travellers. And headaches are undoubtedly one of the most debilitating and frustrating annoyances, especially when the cause is not immediately understood

In particular, there is a type of headache, perhaps related to the pain in the temples, that affects some people during plane landings.

This headache can be annoying to the point that some people give up travelling by plane.

Why, then, are aeroplane headaches so common? And how to counteract it?

Aeroplane headaches: not only on landing

Aeroplane headaches can develop at different times during the flight.

Some people get migraines during take-off, when the plane is gaining altitude, some at landing, or in general during the descent, and some during the flight.

It is not a constant pain: it can worsen and become more acute on several occasions during the plane journey, leading to a critical moment for the headache patient.

However, we would like to point out that it is usually the landing that causes problems: more than 85% of patients complain of annoying symptoms at this stage.

How does headache on an aircraft manifest itself?

Aeroplane headaches manifest themselves as headaches of strong intensity, but of short duration, which have at least two of these three characteristics

  • it is unilateral, either to the right or to the left;
  • the pain is localised predominantly in the orbital and frontal region;
  • the pain is stabbing or stabbing or sometimes pulsating.

The pain is not associated with vomiting, or disturbance to light and noise.

To diagnose the type of headache caused by the aircraft, it is important to focus on the regression phase of the symptoms: it is necessary to check whether, within half an hour after take-off or descent, the headache has improved.

Aeroplane headaches: what are the causes?

The pathophysiology is rather complex: it is probably due to a variation in barometric pressure at the level of the paranasal sinuses.

Aeroplane headaches also affect travellers without pathologies affecting the paranasal sinuses, which must always be excluded with an ENT examination.

What are the remedies for headaches during landing?

If you want to avoid a headache on a plane, you can take an analgesic beforehand about an hour beforehand: this way you can reduce the intensity of the pain and, in the best of cases, avoid its onset.

Analgesics to be taken to limit the pain (whether it is headache or temple pain), can be anti-inflammatory drugs such as Naproxen or Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and also triptans.

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