Barotrauma is commonly associated with outdoor activities. This can be plane flights, scuba and skin diving as well as loud noises ( percussion injuries ) like shotgun blasts.

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Barotrauma is a painful occurrence when the pressure gradient changes in our ears which is usually of rapid onset. Plane flights and scuba diving are the most common incidents. It can occur when ascending or descending in the mountains while driving. Other common scenarios are blasts in war situations, for example.  I personally have treated a few barotraumas on water-skiers who fell onto their sides while skiing causing their ear to skim the water with enough force to cause barotrauma and even rupture the eardrum.

Barotrauma can also effect the sinuses and even the teeth when there is a rapid ascent or descent as in scuba diving.

Barotrauma symptoms

Symptoms of barotrauma are sudden pain in the effected ear, decreased hearing, and in rare instances, blood and fluid may drip out of the ear -(especially if the eardrum ruptures.) If the sinuses are involved, you will experience facial pain and pressure.

Barotrauma Treatment

Barotrauma often resolves over time, however, the medication treatment intervention can vary given the severity of the event. Tylenol can be used for pain and there is usually some benefit from administering prednisone to act a s a drying agent and to reduce inflammation. Steroid nasal sprays and even Sudafed can be helpful. If possible, an audiogram would be beneficial to obtain a baseline. Repeat in a week after treatment  to observe measurable improvement.

If one has experienced significant barotrauma they will be at higher risk in the future.