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Barotitis Media

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is barotitis media?

Barotitis media is damage to the middle ear (area behind your eardrum) from pressure change. It is also known as ear squeeze. It occurs when the eustachian tube becomes blocked and air builds up inside the middle ear. When this happens, it can injure tissue and blood vessels, and cause swelling.

What increases my risk for barotitis media?

  • History of barotitis media
  • Being in an aircraft that goes down too fast
  • Changing depth too fast while scuba diving
  • Falling fast while skydiving
  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment

What are the signs and symptoms of barotitis media?

  • Ear pain and fullness
  • Ringing in your ears or trouble hearing
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding from your ears or nose
  • Trouble moving a side of your face

How is barotitis media diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will use a scope and examine your ear. Your provider will ask if you take medicine or have any medical problems. You may be asked to chew, swallow, or yawn to release trapped air from your middle ear. You may need a hearing test. You may also need a test to check if sound can move from your middle ear to your inner ear. Your provider will put a small tube into your ear to measure air pressure and sound.

How is barotitis media treated?

Do not scuba dive or fly until your symptoms go away or any damage to your eardrum has healed. You may also need the following:

  • Medicines can help decrease pain or swelling in your ear. You may also need medicine to dry up fluid in your sinuses. You may need medicine to prevent or treat an infection, if you have torn your eardrum.
  • Surgery may be needed to repair damage to your eardrum or to make a small hole in your eardrum to decrease pressure.

What can I do to decrease my risk of barotitis media?

  • Ask about medicine to help prevent barotitis media if you plan to scuba dive, sky dive, or fly.
  • Do not fly or scuba dive if you have a cold or ear infection. Ask your healthcare provider if and when it is safe for you to do these activities.
  • Follow guidelines about the recommended time between flights, scuba dives, or skydives. Do not exercise or take a hot bath right after you scuba dive.
  • Keep your ears clear when you fly or scuba dive. Avoid earplugs and tight-fitting hoods when you dive. Swallowing, yawning, or moving your jaw sideways may help your ears adjust during pressure changes. Do not sleep during take-off or landings. You may also pinch your nose, close your mouth, and gently push air out as if you are blowing your nose. You may also pinch your nose and say the letter K over and over again.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever or feel dizzy.
  • You have new ringing in your ear.
  • Your ear feels plugged and painful.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your dizziness or ear pain gets worse.
  • You have fluid or blood come out of your ear or nose.
  • You have sudden loss of hearing.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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