Published: October 19, 2016
If you're used to having sinus issues, they might be no big deal for you to deal with in your everyday life. You probably have a rubric that you follow when you feel an attack coming on, and you're not too bothered when you start to feel the symptoms kicked in. After all--you have a plan, and you know that this, too, shall pass.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to be so laissez-faire about sinus problems when you're in the sky. The unique stresses of a skydive seem like they were custom-built to wreak havoc with sinuses, and it's really important for sick folks to stay on the ground until symptoms pass.
If you're not sure what all the fuss is about, heed our warnings--and learn a little bit about why problem noses are not to be brought to altitude.
1. You're Putting Your Eardrums At Risk.
Most people, thank heaven, have never experienced the abject misery of a popped eardrum. When the pressure on the inside of the eardrum is so much greater than the pressure on the outside of the eardrum--as can happen when a stuffed-up nose enters the thinner air of a jump plane altitude--it can pop like a balloon. The sensation of a popping eardrum is difficult to describe with any accuracy, but most people who experience it will tell you that it's like having a tiny little dude shoot you in the ear from the inside, then pour gasoline on the wound and light it on fire.
It's important to insist here that this does not happen to a healthy ear. The little gunman only lives in people with severely stuffed noses, and he doesn't shoot every time. It's just oh-so-very important to know and to limit your risk!
2. It's The Worst Headache Of Your Life, Just Waiting To Happen.
If you skydive with a head cold and manage not to explode your eardrum, you'll face a much more likely ordeal: a headache that will make you squirm with agony.
Just like the eardrum issue, this also has to do with the pressure differential between the world outside your head and the world inside it. When you're well, your body can manage the pressures just fine on its own. When you're dealing with a head cold, it can't--and you end up in an extremely painful situation as your body tries to sort it out. This is the kind of headache that aspirin doesn't seem to do anything for; the kind you just have to wait out. Trust us when we tell you that the wait feels like years.
3. It's Not Cool To Put Your Instructor Through It.
During freefall, as the thin air of altitude starts to thicken back to normal, your much-maligned nose is going to do the only thing it can think of to bring itself back to equilibrium: it's going to run. It's going to run like it's never run before. It's going to empty itself out, and there's going to be no tissue available to hold back the flood. At this point, you asked for it--but your instructor sure didn't, and he or she is going to end up wearing it. We know you're not the kind of person who would knowingly do that kind of thing.
So--now you know the deal. Skydiving when you have a bad cold is no bueno. Luckily, we'll be here when you're feeling better!