Ear barotrauma : Keep your ears and nose clear!
Ear barotrauma is damage caused to the ear by pressure differences on each side of the eardrum; this usually happens during activities like diving or air travel. It can cause inflammation or even tearing of the eardrum. The condition may be aggravated by earwax blockage in the ear canal or mucus build-up in the Eustachian tube.
Why do air pressure and water hurt our ears?
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane or suffered from swimmer’s ear, you’ve probably noticed that our ears are particularly sensitive to things like changes in pressure and moisture. But have you ever wondered why—or what you can do to ease the discomfort?
People react differently to water in the ear, with responses ranging from irritation, discomfort, or a sensation that the ear is “blocked” for some people, to sharp pain for others. What’s more, water that remains lodged in the ear canal can lead to inflammation or infection (otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear). One way to help prevent this is to make sure you don’t remove the naturally-occurring layer of protective earwax in your ear canal. Because earwax isn’t water-soluble, it acts like a raincoat for your inner ear. So we suggest you refrain from cleaning your ear canals for at least two days before you plan to be in the water.
Dry your ears thoroughly
You can also help avoid swimmer’s ear by drying your ears carefully after going swimming or taking part in any other water activity—which includes tilting your head to one side to remove any water in your ear canal.
The effect of changes in pressure
In normal circumstances the air pressure is the same on both sides of our eardrums. But when the pressure in our environment changes significantly—like when we fly in an airplane or go diving—the pressure on the outside of the eardrum is no longer the same as that on the inside. This pressure difference is eventually regulated by the Eustachian tube, a sort of air canal that links the middle ear to the back of the throat.
To equalize the pressure on both sides of your eardrum :
– Hold your nose, close your mouth, and blow! You’ll hear your ear drums “pop”, which means that the outside air has reached the Eustachian tube, equalizing the pressure.
– Or close your mouth and yawn at the same time.
For babies, you can give them something to drink, which will make them swallow and help the Eustachian tube to function.
Protect your ears from water and changes in pressure
- Quies silicone earplugs for swimmers are completely water-tight and keep water out of your ears so you can swim in peace.
– Quies earPlanes® earplugs help your eardrums adapt to potentially painful changes in air pressure thanks to an integrated ceramic pressure filter.