Does wet hair in cold weather cause sinus headache and posterior eye pain? A possible mechanism through selective brain cooling system.
Medical hypotheses | 15 Sep 2012
A Kaya and H Calışkan
As a general observation, wet hair in cold weather seems to be a predisposing factor for sinus headache and posterior eye pain. We offer a mechanism through selective brain cooling system for this observation. Selective brain cooling (SBC) is a mechanism to protect brain from hyperthermia. Components of SBC are head skin and upper respiratory tract (nose and paranasal sinuses). Cool venous blood from head skin and mucous membranes of nose and paranasal sinuses drains to intracranial dural sinuses and provide brain cooling. Brain will be cooled very much when head skin exposes to hypothermia such a condition like wet hair in cold weather. We suggest that, in order to reduce brain cooling activity, some alterations are being occurred within paranasal sinuses. For this purpose, sinus ostiums may close and mucus may accumulate to reduce air within sinuses. Also there may be some vasomotor changes to prevent heat loss. We hypothesize that this possible alterations may occur within paranasal sinuses as a control mechanism for brain temperature control during exposure of head skin to hypothermia. Paranasal sinuses may also cool brain directly by a very thin layer of bone separates the posterior ethmoid air sinus from the subarachnoid space and only thin plates of bone separate the sphenoidal sinuses from internal carotid artery and cavernous sinuses. Because of their critical role in the SBC, posterior ethmoid air sinus and sphenoidal sinuses may be affected from this alterations more than other paranasal sinuses. This situation may cause posterior eye pain. This mechanism can explain why a person who expose to hypothermia with wet hair or a person who don’t use a beret or a hat during cold weather gets sinus headache and posterior eye pain. These symptoms could lead to an incorrect diagnosis of sinusitis.
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