You have been enjoying your summer by traveling to all of your favorite attractions. However, for some reason your long flight seems to have left you with a headache, or that scuba diving journey you took at the resort left your ears feeling stuffed. Unfortunately, you could have barotrauma. Barotrauma refers to the pain or discomfort that you feel when there is a difference in air pressure between the outside environment and the inside of your body.\nThere are several risk factors that increase your chances of developing barotrauma, including things such as:\n\nSmoking\nObstructions in the ear\nHolding your breath while diving\nDehydration\nObesity\nCongested nose from allergies or colds\n\nRELATED:\u00a0Hydration 101: What You Need to Know\nEar Barotrauma\nEar barotrauma most commonly affects the middle ear, which has a pocket of air that is sensitive to changes in air pressure. Your ears can begin to hurt due to a change in altitude. This can happen if you are flying in an airplane, driving in the mountains, or even scuba diving.\nCommon symptoms of ear barotrauma include:\n\nPain in your ears\nA feeling that your ears are stuffed\nTemporary hearing loss\nDizziness\nBleeding from the ear (rare)\n\nMedications such as decongestants can help with these symptoms. However, you can relieve pressure on your own by sucking on candy, chewing gum, yawning, or inhaling and gently exhaling through your nose while pinching your nostrils shut. These tools relieve pressure by forcing air through the blocked tube and can possibly open it.\nContact your doctor if symptoms do not go away in a few hours, or if the barotrauma is severe.\nSinus Barotrauma\nSinuses are air-filled pockets in the bone around the nose. Sinus barotrauma occurs when there is a difference in pressure between the air in the sinuses and the pressure outside.\nCommon symptoms of sinus barotrauma include:\n\nPain around your cheek bones or above your eyes\nHeadaches\nSinus pressure\nTooth pain\nNasal bleeding\nIt may lead to a severe sinus infection if you are also experiencing a cold or nasal congestion\n\nMedications, such as decongestants, can help relieve pain caused from sinus barotrauma. However, you may need to contact your doctor if you still have symptoms after a few hours.\nRELATED:\u00a0What Makes Your Nose Bleed?\nPrevention\nTo prevent yourself from experiencing an uncomfortable vacation this summer try taking precautions before you travel to your favorite vacation spot. Listed below are some of the prevention tips to use when flying or scuba diving that can reduce your chances of getting barotrauma.\nFlying\n\nRelieve pressure by chewing gum, yawning, sucking on candy, and breathing with your mouth open.\nAvoid sleeping while the plane is landing to make sure that you are swallowing enough.\nTake a decongestant pill or nasal spray before the flight.\nDo not let a baby sleep during descent. Have them suck on a bottle or pacifier.\nGet filtered ear plugs, which will slowly equalize the air pressure against your eardrum.\nIf possible, postpone your flight if you have a cold or are feeling congested.\n\nScuba Diving\n\nMake sure you are in good health before diving.\nBe properly trained.\nAfter diving, avoid flying or going to a higher altitude for the next 24 hours.\nDon’t smoke.\nExhale freely while coming back up to the surface.\nNever dive alone.\nDon’t dive beyond 130 feet.\nKnow the location of the nearest recompression chamber.\n\nDo you suffer from barotrauma? If you’re planning a vacation or if these symptoms have been triggered by a recent event, visit the UPMC Ear, Nose, and Throat website to schedule an appointment and learn more.