Monday, May 3, 2010

Roller Coasters Can Cause Ear Damage

Just about everyone has heard of the dangers of hearing loss from music - concerts and headphones, but what about roller coasters?

That surprised me when I read this article from U.S. News & World Report. I love roller coasters myself, and it never occurred to me that they could be a source of ear damage. But according to the article, it's the force of acceleration on a roller coaster that does it, leading to "ear barotrauma." Ear barotrauma refers to the pain and discomfort you can feel when the pressure behind your eardrum is different from the pressure outside. To fix it, you need to pop your ears. I'm sure everyone has experienced that sensation before, on plane rides or long car trips where the elevation changes.

Unfortunately on roller coasters sometimes more damage can occur. The article relates the story of a 24-year-old who turned to the left at exactly the wrong time. His right ear took the full brunt of the acceleration of the coaster and led to swelling and inflammation 36 hours after the ride. Luckily he was feeling better after three days.

I've never heard a roller coaster operator caution the riders to stay facing forward before, but I have a feeling this may become a common warning on signs. Roller coasters just keep getting more and more extreme and as they do, problems nobody could anticipate will keep coming up. I don't think this is going to stop me from enjoying coasters, but it will make me think a bit more about my position during the ride.


  1. Ppl have lost glasses and hearing aids on these extreme roller coasters rides, seriously. Have had to pocket my hearing aid and sunglasses before such a ride at theme parks. Once worked for a theme park design company, and I've taken tours of extreme rides where down below park employees were gathering hats, glasses, hair accessories, keys, etc. before the park opens for the day. Now I wonder about my contact lenses, lol...rides are getting not only extreme but faster as well.

    That's a new one about eardrum pressure, thanks for the heads up. ;)


  2. Oh wow, that's the first I've heard of this! I'm not a big fan of roller coasters, they freak me out. I wonder if it can be harmful to balance as well. I get dizzy just going up a couple of stories in an elevator, so I'm pretty cautious about going on heights and such. Thanks for the heads up :)

  3. The article roks! it helped me a lot more than the others!!! i was doing an article about Roller Coasters and you help me a lot about the ear damage thingy

  4. This is very scary news. I never thought that it can cause hearing loss. I should tell this to all of my friends. So that they will be aware of this very important news.

    hearing device Royal Oak MI


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