NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodNorthwest Omaha


'My ears hurt so badly': Elkhorn woman diagnosed with Barotrauma after tornado

Posted at 6:55 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 19:55:48-04

ELKHORN, Neb. (KMTV) — The impact of the storms on April 26 is visible across several neighborhoods. We've covered the destruction of homes and even mental health concerns. KMTV learned of another health impact this week.

  • Lindsay Piittmann lives just southeast of the Ramblewood neighborhood in Elkhorn and was home when the tornado hit the area.
  • She experienced pain and pressure in her ears when the tornado passed over.
  • Her ears even popped, something we have heard from other neighbors.
  • In recent days she has experienced ringing, pain, pressure and amplification.
  • This week, Piittmann was diagnosed with Barotrauma.
  • Watch the video to hear what Lindsay Piittmann experienced during the tornada and the lingering impacts in the days following.

"I was standing here watching as the tornado was going right past," said Lindsay Piittmann, who has lived in this Elkhorn neighborhood for 3 years.

Piittmann, her husband and their three kids quickly went to the basement.

In what Lindsay says felt like 2 to 3 minutes the tornado went over and passed their house.

"It was a very overwhelming feeling from all of the senses," Piittmann said. “The first things that I said, as it was passing over us, was that my ears, my ears hurt so badly."

Something we have heard from several neighbors.

“A sudden decompression when the tornado must have been over us because both our ears popped," said Dick Parcher. “My ears started to pop and I guess when you are in the tornado, I guess that is when your ears are popping," Monika Philp said.

"The way I have been describing it is felt like you were up in an airplane, air pressure wise, and also like 18 feet below the water at the same time,” Piittmann said.

And in the days since she has experienced pain, pressure, ringing and amplification of sound.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Barotrauma can happen with a sudden change in air or water pressure.

Mayo Clinic describes it as ‘airplane ear’ when air pressure in the middle ear and the air pressure in the environment don't match preventing your eardrum from vibrating normally.

"Just like a clanking on a glass or my kids accidentally putting their fork down too loudly and it's like little, tiny sounds like that are just extremely bothersome to me right now," Piittmann said.

Now she wears earplugs to block out some of the sound. Something her doctor recommended she continue to do until the condition heals naturally.

Lindsay is hoping to spread awareness about this and hopes an organization will come out to the community to offer screenings for those impacted.