A barotraumatism, also known as barotrauma, is the physical damage caused to the tissues of the human body by a pressure difference between the air space inside or next to the body and the gas or liquid that surrounds it. The relationship between pressure and volume is defined by Boyle’s law.
It usually occurs in air spaces when moving a body from a higher pressure to a lower pressure environment, such as when a diver, freestyle diver or passenger plane goes up or down.
Damage to the body tissues occurs because the gases are compressible and the tissues are not. During increased environmental pressure, the interior of the body provides the surrounding tissue with little support to withstand the increased external pressure. During the lowering of the atmospheric pressure, the greater pressure of the gas inside the body causes damage to the surrounding tissues in case the pressure becomes unsustainable and the gas must escape.