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Barotitis (also known as barotrauma) is a rupturing of the eardrum in the middle ear, due to a too rapid change in pressure at this level. This rapid change does not allow time for the PT to balance the pressure difference. Barotrauma occurs for example in the context of diving.


Ear barotrauma is manifested by various symptoms that may be more or less severe. The patient may experience pain in his ear, or sometimes dizziness. Bleeding from the ear may occur. Generally, the patient loses some or all of his hearing in the case of significant barotrauma, and may have tinnitus, a kind of permanent ringing - perceived by the brain, since these sounds do not exist in reality.


The diagnosis of Barotitis is made through observing clinical signs and a review with an otoscope. This allows in particular to determine whether the lesion is stage 1 (hyperemia, excessive redness of the eardrum), stage 2 (retraction of the eardrum), stage 3 (serous effusion, fluid behind the eardrum), stage 4 (congested blood in eardrum) or stage 5 (ruptured eardrum). Generally, the diagnosis is confirmed when the patient evokes the event that caused the trauma (diving, flying, explosion or hazardous work).


In the vast majority of cases, barometric otitis of stages 1 and 2 heals itself in a day or two, and does not involve any lasting symptoms. In case of particularly strong pain, painkillers may be prescribed, and medical follow-up is initiated. In advanced stages, lasting effects may occur, and only over time will we see more or less complete recovery, or on the other hand, deafness.


Several precautions can help you to avoid becoming a victim of ear barotrauma. When diving, avoid doing so when you have a cold and make sure to pay attention your bearings. If pain occurs during a dive, the diver must immediately stop his descent and its rise and stabilize at the level where the pain is less severe. When flying, it is advisable to perform the Valsalva maneuver in case of sensation of plugged ear, which consists of pinching your nostrils, closing your mouth, and blowing your nose to open the Eustachian tube and rebalance the eardrums. It is also possible on a plane, to chew gum or candy to promote this rebalancing.

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