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Health Picture of Health

Sandy wreaked havoc on people's sinuses too

If it seemed like super storm Sandy triggered sinus problem, you're not crazy.

It's likely people with sinus issues experienced worse symptoms as the storm made its way toward Baltimore, said Dr. Marc I. Leavey, an internist at Mercy Medical Center and Lutherville Personal Physicians.

And it's all related to barometric pressure.

Preliminary results from the National Weather Service showed barometric pressure in Baltimore fell to 964.4 millibars during the storm -  the lowest since at least 1930.

When barometric pressure drops suddenly it causes pressure in the sinuses to expand as it tries to balance with the air on the outside. The air gets stuck inside because swelling in the lining of the nose causes the sinus passageways to shut. In turn, the pressure builds up inside pressing against the sinuses and bones and leading to headaches and other pain.

"It's trapped inside the sinuses," Leavey said. "There is no way for the air to escape."

The same thing can happen in the joints, which is why some people feel achy knees and ankles before a storm.

Symptoms usually ease up after a storm passes.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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