Barotrauma means injury to your body because of changes in barometric (air) or water pressure. One common type happens to your ear. A change in altitude may cause your ears to hurt. This can happen if you are flying in an airplane, driving in the mountains, or scuba diving. Divers can also get decompression sickness, which affects the whole body.

Common symptoms of ear barotrauma include

  • Pain
  • A feeling that your ears are stuffed
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness

Treatments for ear barotrauma include chewing gum and yawning to relieve the pressure. Medications such as decongestants may also help.

Symptoms of Barotrauma

The following features are indicative of Barotrauma:
  • hearing loss
  • pain
  • dizziness
  • feeling of stuffy ears

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Common Causes of Barotrauma

The following are the most common causes of Barotrauma:
  • pressure differences while diving
  • explosive blast
  • explosive decompression
  • mechanical ventilation
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • dynamic hyperinflation

Other Causes of Barotrauma

The following are the less common causes of Barotrauma:
  • high pressurized shock waves

Risk Factors for Barotrauma

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Barotrauma:
  • severe lung disease
  • high transpulmonary pressure
  • high tidal volumes
  • high intrinsic positive end expiratory pressure

Prevention of Barotrauma

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Barotrauma. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • limiting pressure differences
  • educate the rescue training to the professional divers and recreational divers

Occurrence of Barotrauma

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Barotrauma cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Widely occurring between 500K - 1 Million cases

Common Age Group

Barotrauma can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Barotrauma can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Barotrauma

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Barotrauma:
  • Echocardiography: To detect the number and size of gas bubbles in the right side of the heart
  • Spiral computed tomography: To evaluate for pneumothorax
  • Computed tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging: To detect if there is severe headache or severe back pain after diving
  • Chest radiography: To detect if there is chest discomfort or breathing difficulty
  • Creatine kinase level: To detect the tissue damage associated with decompression sickness

Doctor for Diagnosis of Barotrauma

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Barotrauma:
  • Otolaryngologist
  • Occupational and environmental medicine specialist
  • Diving medicine physician

Complications of Barotrauma if untreated

Yes, Barotrauma causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Barotrauma is left untreated:
  • hearing loss
  • vertigo
  • acute ear infection
  • damaged eardrum

Procedures for Treatment of Barotrauma

The following procedures are used to treat Barotrauma:
  • Surgery: To equalize air pressure and drain fluids

Self-care for Barotrauma

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Barotrauma:
  • Yawn and swallow during ascent and descent: Helps in activating muscles that open eustachian tubes
  • Use filtered earplugs: To equalize the pressure against eardrum during ascents and descents

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Barotrauma.

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