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Barotrauma Causes

Barotrauma is caused by rapid changes of pressure between the air space inside and outside the body. In scuba diving, if proper equalizing and standard safety stops between certain depths are not followed, severe barotrauma may result.

Barotrauma Definition

Barotrauma pertains to physical damage to tissues as a consequence of pressure differences between an air space inside the body and the surrounding liquid or gas. Typically, barotrauma occurs when an individual rapidly moves to and from a higher pressure environment; such as when a scuba diver rapidly ascends or descends underwater.

Barotrauma Diagnosis

Barotrauma can be diagnosed based on clinical symptoms as well as by determining the patient's medical history and recent activities. Exposure to rapid changes in pressure usually leads to a suspicion of barotrauma.

Barotrauma Symptoms and Signs

Barotrauma may cause damage in the tissues of the paranassal sinuses, lungs, middle ear, eyes, and skin. Common symptoms of barotrauma include: chest pain, ear pain, ear infection, hearing loss, sinus pain, nose bleeds, stroke-like symptoms, mental problems, fits, and headache. In diving cases, barotrauma may cause lung damage during rapid ascent where the lung expands with increasing pressure.

Barotrauma Treatment

Barotrauma is often treated with the use of a recompression chamber that reproduces the pressure than an individual has adjusted to before coming up too rapidly to a low pressure zone, thus allowing gradual decompression. Other forms of treatment for barotrauma are mostly for symptom management and supportive care.

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