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Ear and vestibular symptoms in train operators after sudden air pressure changes in trains
  1. Hugues M A Francois1,
  2. Luc Vantrappen1,
  3. Vincent Van Rompaey2,
  4. Lode Godderis3
  1. 1Department of Occupational Health, Corporate Prevention Services, Brussels, Belgium
  2. 2Department of ENT, Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium
  3. 3Centre for Environment and Health, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hugues M A Francois, hugues.francois{at}


A healthy 31-year-old train operator presented to our occupational health clinic reporting ear aches, headaches, dizziness, unsteadiness and even slight tinnitus. These symptoms first appeared when the patient started operating from a new train cabin. He described a sudden pressure gradient, experienced on some parts of the trajectory, which might have caused these problems. Although the cabins were equipped with a pressure equalising device, this was usually switched off because of the device creating an uncomfortable feeling in the cabin. The literature describes sudden pressure gradients as possible factors for passenger discomfort.

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