Barotrauma

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Barotrauma is an injury to your body caused by a pressure change. You may have an injury to your ears, sinuses, or teeth. It can also affect your lungs, stomach, or intestines. It is also called ear, sinus, lung, or gut squeeze.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Barotrauma can cause air bubbles to form in your body. Air bubbles may cause a rash, swelling, skin dimpling, or purple skin patches. Swelling may occur in your neck and spread to your shoulders, face, or chest. The swelling can cause voice changes. Air bubbles may go into your joints and cause pain and swelling. They may also damage your nerves and affect your vision and ability to move the muscles in your face.

  • Air bubbles may damage your spinal nerves, causing pain or trouble moving your arms and legs. They may go into your blood and block your blood vessels. If this happens, parts of your body may not get the blood and oxygen they need. If air bubbles go to your heart, you could have an irregular heartbeat or a heart attack. If the bones around your sinuses break, air bubbles may enter your brain. Air bubbles in your brain can cause a coma or become life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Analgesics help decrease pain.

  • Antibiotics treat or prevent an infection.

  • Decongestants help decrease fluid and swelling in your nose or sinuses.

  • Laxatives make it easier to have a bowel movement. They also help prevent straining while you have a bowel movement.

  • Steroids decrease swelling and inflammation in your ear, nose, or sinuses.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests may be taken to check for infection or other conditions.

  • Ear tests may be done to check your hearing or check for damage to your ear.

  • An x-ray may be used to check for broken bones, or fluid or air in your sinuses, abdomen, or other areas of your body.

  • A CT or MRI scan may be used to look at your bones, lungs, stomach, intestines, or blood vessels. A CT uses x-rays and an MRI uses powerful magnets to take pictures of an area of your body. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell your caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.

Treatments:

  • Medicines can help decrease pain or swelling. They can also help dry fluid in your nose or sinuses. You may also need medicine to make it easier to have a bowel movement.

  • Ear canal cleaning removes earwax and releases pressure in your ears.

  • Treatment for tinnitus helps relieve the ringing in your ears. Your caregiver may give you a device to put in your ears which decreases the ringing. Biofeedback therapy uses patches of electric current to relax your face and neck muscles. Your caregiver may also use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy. This uses an electrical current placed on the skin near your ears. You may also get therapy to help you learn not to hear any ringing sounds.

  • Oxygen helps increase the oxygen levels in your body and help with healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may also help to reduce symptoms of barotrauma.

  • Surgery may be needed to repair damage from barotrauma. Ask your caregiver for more information about possible surgeries you may need.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Barotrauma (Inpatient Care)

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