Westerman S, Fine M, Gilbert L. Aerotitis: cause, prevention, and treatment. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1990;90(10):926. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.19184.108.40.2066.
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Aerotitis, an acute inflammation of the middle ear caused by the difference in air pressure between the airplane cabin and the middle-ear space, is becoming more common in the United States as our society becomes increasingly mobile. We describe a case in which a 33-year-old woman with a resolving upper respiratory tract infection and mildly blocked eustachian tubes flew on a business trip. During ascent, her ears became blocked. This blockage was partially alleviated by a Valsalva's maneuver. On descent, however, her ears became severely blocked, she experienced intense pain, and her tympanic membranes ruptured. She became nauseated and vomited. Her hearing became significantly diminished and she experienced vertigo. On landing, she was taken to a local emergency room and treated with penicillin and antivertiginous medication. Subsequent otologic evaluation revealed severe permanent sensorineural hearing loss. The vestibular symptoms lasted several months. She now requires hearing aids on a permanent basis. Suggestions are presented for prevention and treatment of aerotitis.
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