Ear barotrauma is a condition that causes ear discomfort due to pressure changes. Although most frequently encountered in patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), it can occur in any patient receiving mechanical ventilation. These medications may relieve nasal congestion and allow the eustachian tube to open. Antibiotics may prevent ear infection if barotrauma is severe. If the tube will not open with other treatments, surgery may be necessary. A surgical cut is made in the eardrum to allow pressure to become equal and fluid to drain (myringotomy). However, surgery is rarely necessary.