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Airplane Ear
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Airplane ear  (barotrauma or barotitis media)

Airplane ear is an injury to your middle ear often caused by changes in air pressure while flying. It usually occurs when you have a cold, congested nose, nasal allergy, or throat or sinus infection. Airplane ear can also occur when you drive in the mountains or go scuba diving. Airplane ear usually causes temporary ear pain and hearing loss. Airplane ear can occur in one or both ears.

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CHILDREN'S HEALTH

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You've just settled in for a long, relaxing flight. But then you start to feel pressure and discomfort in your ears. There's some pain. And sounds are somewhat muffled. You may be experiencing a condition known as airplane ear.

Also called barotrauma or barotitis media, airplane ear is an injury to your middle ear. The cause is rapid changes in altitude and air pressure. Often it occurs when you fly with a cold, congested nose, nasal allergy, or throat or sinus infection (sinusitis). It can also occur when you drive in the mountains or go scuba diving. Although the condition is usually just a minor annoyance, it may result in temporary ear pain and hearing loss.

Ear pain associated with flying is due to unequal pressure between your middle ear and the cabin of the airplane. Normally, the eustachian tube, which connects your middle ear to the back of your nose and throat, equalizes the pressure. But if the tube is blocked because of congestion or some other problem, the unequal pressure on your eardrum may impair your hearing and cause ringing in your ear (tinnitus), dizziness and ear pain. If the eustachian tube is completely blocked, pressure changes may be severe enough to cause fluid buildup or bleeding in your middle ear.

Usually, self-care steps can relieve the symptoms of airplane ear in a short time. However, a severe case of barotrauma may require you to see your doctor.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 

 



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Last Modified : 05/14/08 07:36 AM