Thousands of individuals fly commercial airlines and private aircraft daily. One airline boasts of serving more than 100,000 passengers each day. Of these individuals exposed to barometric alterations, an undocumented number will develop significant barotrauma and may seek help from an otolaryngologist. Although many otolaryngologists learn the mechanics and management of barotrauma as military flight surgeons, residents in otolaryngology usually receive no specific training in this area. Because private and commercial aviation are so common today, we believe that a basic knowledge of barometric changes experienced while flying is essential for the practicing otolaryngologist.
These basic principles are covered in this presentation. Case histories will also be discussed. One patient, who presented with signs of perilymph fistula, including sensorineural deafness and abnormal ENG, recovered spontaneously.