The aircraft's palsy: medics described unusual symptoms similar to a stroke

Recently on Board was an unusual case described in a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The aircraft had just gained cruising altitude, flight attendants began when asked if the on Board doctor. Fortunately, among the passengers was a doctor and Professor of medicine Alan hunter (Alan J. Hunter) from the University of Oregon science and health. The incident that happened that day, he described in his recent work.

the Crew believed that one of the passengers on Board suffered a stroke — an acute disturbance of blood supply to the brain, which can cause damage and sometimes death. However, after inspecting the men, the hunter realized that the strange symptoms pointed to something else. But it wasn’t clear on that.

“I saw a young and good-looking passenger. But he is completely limp right person. Moreover, he could not close his right eye,” — said the Professor.

This condition symptoms like bell’s palsy, which is characterized by paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face and General weakness.

But the young man was conscious and was in normal physical shape. His coordination had not been violated.

Despite the slurred speech and excessive saliva, the victim was able to explain that during takeoff he had a sudden pain in the right side of the head and in the ear, and the condition was accompanied by a sensation of pressure.

the Man also does not suffer from any diseases except for the common cold. However, he had the day before the flight.

If the assumption on the stroke of the passenger is confirmed, the plane would have to land as soon as possible. In this case, the man would be given urgent medical assistance. But hunter reasoned, these measures were not required, because his symptoms did not indicate a stroke.

the Medic suggested that the cause of the paralysis could be an upper respiratory infection.

“I thought I could decrease behaviour.arnoga in cabin pressure can lead to a relative increase in pressure in the middle ear due to a blockage of the auditory tube,” said hunter.

Passengers were allowed to breathe oxygen-enriched air and asked to do a few tricks, which help to reduce the pressure in the ears. Usually yawning, swallowing and Valsalva maneuver — forced exhalation with closed mouth and nose — help to do it. After 15 minutes, the man became much better, and after a few minutes his condition normalized.

After landing, the hunter began to study the strange symptoms of his patient, and found in the scientific literature one similar case, called “wing paralysis”. It was described in the 2018.

“I also identified several cases described as barotrauma persons,” — said hunter. But most often this condition occurs in situations associated with scuba diving.

“This condition occurs during ascent [from the depth] from divers and very rarely during the flight, travel through hills that after some operations on the middle ear and certain structural abnormalities of the middle ear,” — said the scientist.

Similar to barotrauma of the face may occur when atmospheric pressure decrease that occurs during takeoff. When this happens, the pressure in the middle ear increases, which leads to the so-called ischemic dysfunction of the facial nerve.

the Good news is that such unilateral facial paralysis can be eliminated pretty quickly: 15 minute exercise described above will improve the human condition.

According to hunter, can hardly deal with such a problem twice in my life, but in rare cases this condition may occasionally be felt. In this case, help antihistamine and countercurrent means, or corticosteroids taken as a preventive measure, the Professor concluded.

By the way, the authors of the project “Conduct.Science” ( told of the most curious cases of medical practice, 2019.

Text: To.Science