What Is Ear Barotrauma?
Ear barotrauma is a condition that causes ear discomfort due to pressure changes.
In each ear there is a tube that connects the middle of your ear to your throat and nose. It also helps regulate ear pressure. This tube is called the eustachian tube and is named after the 16th century anatomist who discovered it. When the tube is blocked for some reason, you may experience ear barotrauma.
Occasional ear barotrauma is common, especially in environments where the altitude changes. While the condition isn’t harmful in some people, frequent cases may cause further complications. It’s important to understand the differences between acute (occasional) and chronic (recurring) cases so you know when to seek medical treatment.
Recognizing Ear Barotrauma Symptoms Ear barotrauma is marked by an uncomfortable pressure inside the ear. Symptoms may include:
· ear pain
· general ear discomfort
· stuffiness of ears
· decreased hearing
Causes of Ear Barotrauma
Eustachian tube blockage is the direct cause of ear barotrauma. The eustachian tube helps to restore equilibrium during changes in pressure. For example, yawning is controlled in the ears through the eustachian tube. When the tube is blocked, symptoms persist because the pressure in the ear is different than the pressure outside of your eardrum.
Altitude changes are the most common cause of this condition. One of the places many people experience ear barotrauma is during an airplane’s ascent or descent. The condition is sometimes referred to as airplane ear.
Other situations that might cause ear barotrauma include:
· scuba diving
· driving through mountains
· ear infections
· eardrum ruptures