Ear Barotrauma

ExitCare Image Ear barotrauma is ear pain or damage caused by a pressure difference between the inside and outside of the eardrum.


  • Being too close to an explosion or blast.

  • Receiving a blow to your ear.

  • Coming to the surface too rapidly after scuba diving.

  • Flying in an airplane.

  • Going to high altitudes within 24 hours after diving.

  • Undergoing rapid depressurization after working in a pressurized chamber.


  • Dizziness that feels like a spinning, rocking, or tumbling sensation.

  • Loss of balance.

  • Nausea.

  • Ringing in your ear(s) (tinnitus).

  • Ear pain.

  • Bleeding from the ear(s).

  • Sudden partial or complete loss of hearing.

  • Headache.


Your caregiver may know what is wrong based on your history. Your caregiver may also use blood work, X-rays, and other tests to make sure that other injuries did not happen. This may be more important if your injury happened while scuba diving or if you traveled to high altitude after diving.


Treatment depends on how bad the injury to your ear(s) is. For example, if there is a risk for infection, antibiotic medicine may be recommended. Your caregiver will make these decisions based on what was found during your exam. With severe injuries, you may need to see a specialist.


  • Do not travel to high altitudes, work in a pressurized cabin or room, or scuba dive until your caregiver approves.

  • Keep your ears dry. Use the corner of a towel to get water out of the ears after showering or bathing.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • See your caregiver as recommended.


  • You have pain that is not relieved by medicine or is getting worse.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have any new or unusual discharge from the ear.

  • The outer ear becomes red or swollen or there is swelling behind your earlobe.

  • You have problems that may be related to the medicine you are taking.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.