How can roller coasters cause ear problems?




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How can roller coasters cause ear problems?

Posted on Jul 8, 2015

A trip to the theme park is an outing that appeals to people of all ages, a day filled with excitement and adrenaline-pumping rides. While safety is of the highest priority while you're enjoying the various attractions, you should also consider the health of your ears. 

Research by Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital has found that roller coaster rides we enjoy so much could be the cause of a common ear injury known as ear barotrauma1

How can roller coasters be dangerous for our ears? 

Ear barotrauma is defined as a feeling of discomfort inside your ear due to the result of a pressure change, according to the US National Library of Medicine2. Air pressure is usually the same outside of your body and inside the middle ear, aided by the Eustachian tube which connects the middle ear with the airflow from our nose and throat2

When the Eustachian tube is blocked however, and air pressure is no longer balanced on either side of the ear drum, this is when ear barotrauma can occur2

Often experienced as a popping, or discomfort while flying on an airplane, now ear barotrauma is thought to be a side effect associated with some theme park rides. 

Dr Kathleen L Yaremchuk, the Chair of the Otolaryngology Department at Henry Ford Hospital believes that with roller coasters becoming ever faster, healthcare professionals need to pay attention to the barotrauma risk posed by the thrilling ride1

"Based on our research, we recommend that passengers remain facing forward for the duration of the ride to not let the full impact of acceleration hit the ear."1

If you're feeling discomfort or pain in your ears after a roller coaster ride, we would suggest you to click here or call 1800 340 631 to book a no cost* check-up with your local HEARINGLife clinic.

1Henry Ford Health System, Study: Roller Coasters Linked to Common Ear Injury. Accessed July 7, 2015. Available here.

2U.S. National Library of Medicine, Ear barotrauma. Accessed July 7, 2015. Available here

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