Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2014
Otic barotrauma is common among air travellers and can cause severe otalgia, perforation of the tympanic membrane and hearing loss. Many prevention measures exist, with varying evidence to support their use. There are no data to establish if air travellers are aware of them or indeed use them. We aimed to establish air travellers' knowledge of such prevention measures.
We surveyed air travellers at two UK airports by means of a questionnaire. Answers to the questionnaire were collected over a two-week period.
Overall, 179 air travellers with a mean age of 28 years (range: 15–72 years) completed the questionnaire. There were 66 female and 113 male air travellers. The majority (84 per cent) complained of symptoms while flying and 30 per cent were not aware of any prevention measures. Barotrauma-related symptoms were reported in 25 per cent of air travellers who were unaware of any prevention measures. Nearly all air travellers (86 per cent) indicated that more information regarding prevention measures would be useful.
Air travellers are often not aware of prevention measures to avoid otic barotrauma, and the majority suffer as a result. Increasing public awareness of simple prevention measures would have a significant impact on air travellers.
Pilot results presented at the 2012 Spring Meeting of the Otorhinolaryngology Research Society, 16 March 2012, London, UK.