Ear barotrauma, also known as airplane ear, occurs when there is an imbalance in air pressure between the middle ear and the surrounding environment, leading to potential damage. This condition commonly arises during airplane travel when the aircraft ascends after takeoff or descends for landing.
To alleviate symptoms of airplane ear, simple self-care measures can be taken. Actions like yawning, swallowing, or chewing gum can help equalize the air pressure and relieve discomfort. These steps are usually effective in managing mild cases. However, if the symptoms of airplane ear are severe, it is advisable to seek medical attention from a doctor.
Airplane ear can affect one or both ears. Typical indications and symptoms include:
If the sensations of discomfort, fullness, or muffled hearing persist for more than a few days, or if you experience severe signs or symptoms, it is advisable to contact your doctor.
Ear barotrauma occurs when there is a sudden change in air or water pressure, causing pressure to be exerted on the eustachian tubes. These tubes connect the back of the middle ear to the back of the throat and play a role in equalizing air pressure on both sides of the eardrum by allowing outside air to enter the middle ear.
Air pressure changes occur rapidly during airplane takeoff and landing, surpassing the ability of the eustachian tubes to adjust accordingly. Similarly, deep-water diving can lead to rapid changes in water pressure, resulting in the same problem. If you have congestion due to a cold or allergies, the risk of experiencing ear barotrauma increases. Congestion can block or inflame the eustachian tubes, making it even more difficult for them to manage the changes in air pressure.
Airplane ear can be more likely to occur when certain conditions obstruct or impair the function of the eustachian tube. Several common risk factors include:
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