Stroke Symptoms In A Plane Passenger Turned Out To Be A Manifestation Of Barotrauma

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Stroke Symptoms In A Plane Passenger Turned Out To Be A Manifestation Of Barotrauma
Stroke Symptoms In A Plane Passenger Turned Out To Be A Manifestation Of Barotrauma

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Video: Common stroke signs and symptoms | Circulatory System and Disease | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy 2023, February
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Stroke symptoms in a plane passenger turned out to be a manifestation of barotrauma

When the plane is in the air, it is important to distinguish between severe emergency passengers and medical problems that do not require an urgent landing. On a recent flight, a conductor suspected a passenger had a stroke. Despite the fact that the symptoms were very similar, Professor Alan Hunter, who was on board, diagnosed a milder pathology.

Stroke symptoms in a plane passenger turned out to be a manifestation of barotrauma
Stroke symptoms in a plane passenger turned out to be a manifestation of barotrauma

Photo: Twitter / Start Travel /

When the plane is in the air, it is important to distinguish between severe emergency passengers and medical problems that do not require an urgent landing. On a recent flight, a conductor suspected a passenger had a stroke. Despite the fact that the symptoms were very similar, Professor Alan Hunter, who was on board, diagnosed a milder pathology. He spoke about this interesting experience in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

Ischemic stroke develops when a blood clot in a vessel stops blood flow in any part of the brain. Patients are more likely to die or become disabled without urgent specialized care.

“When I met the passenger, I noticed that he was young and fit, and the right half of his face was lowered. He had wrinkles on the right side of his face smoothed out, he could not close his right eye,”says Alan J. Hunter in the description of this clinical case.

The passenger explained that during the takeoff of the plane, he felt pain in the right side of the head, as well as pain and pressure in the right ear.

Despite drooping half of the face and indistinct speech (characteristic symptoms of a stroke), the consciousness of the young man was completely clear, and coordination of movements was maintained. The day before the flight, he recovered from a cold.

Since facial paralysis can develop in more than just a stroke, Dr. Hunter concluded that it was not a stroke and an unplanned landing was not required.

Professor Hunter decided that the stroke-like symptoms were due to the drop in air pressure during takeoff. The passenger's middle ear pressure was found to be relatively high. Usually, in such cases, excess air can pass through the Eustachian tube, which connects the ear to the nasopharynx. But, probably, after a recent cold, the patient's Eustachian tube turned out to be blocked. This resulted in severe pain in the ear and on one side of the head.

After the passenger relieved the pressure in the middle ear a little using standard techniques (yawning, swallowing), it became much easier for him.

The condition, which the flight attendant took for a stroke, turned out to be barotrauma. More often it develops, for example, during scuba diving. The paralysis of the facial muscles that may accompany it usually resolves in 15-30 minutes.

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