The high speeds, extreme turns and exhilarating heights of roller coasters have been linked to a common ear injury called barotrauma , according to a recent study by specialists at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Dr. Daniel Coelho, otolaryngologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, says barotrauma occurs when the pressure between one's ear chambers is excessively different. In the case of the study, he explains that the speed of the ride caused the eardrum and ear bones to push toward the inner ear. At its worst, barotrauma results in hearing loss (usually temporary), a loud popping sound, dizziness and pain. But Coelho says severe damage from amusement-park rides is rare. While he does not think avoiding rides is necessary, he says earplugs can offer protection. Just as in airplane travel, earplugs work "by blocking the air-pressure wave from making its way to the ear drum," he says.