Pronounced: ba-roh-TRAW-mahEn Español (Spanish Version)
Barotrauma is the pain or discomfort that is felt with a difference in air or water pressure between the outside environment and the inside of the body.
Any part of the body that contains air can be sensitive to these pressures:
- Ear (most common)—affecting structures in the middle ear
- Sinus—air-filled facial sinuses surround the bones in the skull
- Pulmonary (most critical)—lungs
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Normally air moves easily between outside and inside of the ear, sinuses, and lungs, helping to maintain a balance of pressure. Imbalances may be created with:
- Sudden or severe changes in surrounding pressure
- Blockages in the body's air cavities
The imbalance of pressure causes the air inside your body to shrink or swell. This is what can cause pain and damage.
Last reviewedDecember 2014by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.