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Otitic barotrauma| definition, causes, symptoms, signs and treatment

Definition: Middle ear trauma due to rapid & marked decrease in middle ear pressure.
Gas must move freely between the middle ear and nasopharynx in order to maintain equal pressure on both sides of the tympanic membrane.
  •  During ascent: atmospheric pressure decreases so middle ear pressure becomes relatively positive this is corrected by passive outflow of air from middle ear along Eustachian tube (E.T).
  • During diving & airplane descent: atmospheric pressure increases so middle ear pressure becomes relatively negative this can be corrected only by active opening of E.T (by swallow) to allow air inflow to middle ear.
  • So otitic barotrauma occurs when E.T fails to open, this results in retraction, rupture, and effusion.

Symptoms and signs of Otitic barotrauma:

  • Earache, discomfort & fullness in ear.
  • Deafness.
  • Tinnitus.
  • Retracted congested tympanic membrane (T.M).
  • Middle ear effusion (may be haemotympanum).
  • Tympanic membrane rupture.
  • Tuning fork: Conductive deafness (C.D).

Treatment of Otitic barotrauma

A- Prophylactic:
1- Avoid flying with common cold.
2- Avoid sleep during descent.
3- Chewing gums.
4- Nasal & oral decongestants.

In retraction: valsalva’s maneuver.
In severe retraction or effusion: myringotomy
In rupture: as traumatic perforation


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