Roller Coasters Linked to Ear Injury

DETROIT, May 5 (UPI) — Physicians should know ear barotrauma has been linked to a roller coaster ride, a U.S. doctor warns.

Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit says the case study of a 24-year-old male experiencing pain and fullness in his right ear about 36 hours after riding a roller coaster at an amusement park may be the first reported instance between the force of acceleration in roller coasters and ear barotrauma.

Yaremchuk pointed out barotrauma — caused by a quick change in pressure in the external environment, the ear drum and the middle ear — from a roller coaster happens suddenly so it very difficult for the patient to equalize ear pressure by simply yawning or chewing gum.

“As roller coasters continue to push the envelope of speed, otolaryngologists need to be aware of this new cause of barotrauma to the ear,” Yaremchuk says in a statement. “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.”

The case study was presented at the annual meeting of Triologocial Society, part of the Combined Otolaryngology spring meetings in Las Vegas.

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