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You've likely experienced ear barotrauma in your lifetime if you've driven through the mountains or taken a commercial flight and experienced the sensation of "popping" ears. The discomfort that most feel when this happens, and the pain that fewer people feel, is most often caused by pressure changes in the air and water. Infections and blockages can also cause this condition, which affects the inner ear. Ear barotrauma usually clears up by itself, but in severe cases, corrective surgery may be necessary.

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1. What is Happening?

In each ear, there is a tube that connects to your nose and throat -- the eustachian tube. When a blockage occurs, you're likely to experience symptoms of ear barotrauma. For most, this is more irritating than harmful, but that's not always the case. Occasional (acute) and recurring (chronic) ear barotrauma may require some kind of treatment.

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