Why can I get barotrauma in a pressurized airplane cabin?

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Airplane cabins are pressurized to prevent the extreme discomfort associated with changes in pressure. However, the pressure in a standard airplane is closer to the pressure at about 7000 feet than to sea level pressure. As a result, the air in your ear can expand by a quarter of its original size. When the plane descends, your ear needs to take in air to return to sea level pressure - this is when barotrauma occurs most often.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.