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BarbadosSlim93
01-07-2009, 20:09
I am trying to get some pool time in to hone some of my newly acquired dive skills, and was going to originally go this weekend, but alas, I have come down with an ear infection. If I can kick it, how long should I wait to dive? I am assuming this weekend would not be a good idea.

Navy OnStar
01-07-2009, 21:24
Good question....I won't give medical advice.....well....becasue I'm not a doctor. But the guys at DAN are and they are usually pretty quick with answers..(a day or two)...I would go to their site and send them an e-mail. You don't have to be a member to ask questions.

BarbadosSlim93
01-07-2009, 22:25
Good question....I won't give medical advice.....well....becasue I'm not a doctor. But the guys at DAN are and they are usually pretty quick with answers..(a day or two)...I would go to their site and send them an e-mail. You don't have to be a member to ask questions.

Thanks. I did consult them and am hoping to have an answer back pretty quickly.

Quero
01-07-2009, 22:51
I have just got over an ear infection and have some insight from a patient's perspective.

I think it depends on what kind of ear infection you've got. If it's external (swimmer's ear), you may not have trouble equalizing and so all you would probably have to do is make sure the ear is good and dry when you're out of the water.

If it's a middle ear infection (which is what I just had), you need to be able to clear, even if you're still on antibiotics, so it will depend on the severity of the infection and how quickly you beat the germs back. My doctor here (a diving doc) said I could get back in the water as soon as I could clear. But that took two weeks!

If it's an inner ear infection (the type that causes vertigo), it may take very little or quite a long time to get your sense of balance back. I had vertigo a few years ago (unrelated to diving) that cleared up in 24 hours. I also had a horrible vertigo about 20 years ago that took months (I needed a long medical leave from work as I couldn't even walk). You don't want to dive with even slight vertigo. It causes a panic cycle to start and is uncomfortable in the extreme, psychologically, meaning that you will have an almost impossible-to-resist urge to bolt.

cummings66
01-09-2009, 19:31
For me, I can tell if I can dive by how my ears clear during my normal daily activities. IE if I go down a steep hill and can clear my ears then I'm able to dive.

I would suggest that if you have any symptoms that you not dive as IMO it's easy enough to cause damage under pressure. Not worth the risk.

CompuDude
01-09-2009, 19:50
Standard "ear infection" usually means swimmers ear. My doctor (a diver) tells me not to dive until the complete course of antibiotics is over. Generally it means about 3 weeks of dry time.

Since I started using "ear beer" (a 50-50 mix of rubbing alcohol and white wine vinegar for 5 minutes in each ear) I have not had a single ear infection... except for the one time I forgot. ;-) Give it a try!

DAN Divers Alert Network : More On Swimmers Ear (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/articles/article.asp?articleid=49)

Monkeylemon
01-10-2009, 14:21
Standard "ear infection" usually means swimmers ear. My doctor (a diver) tells me not to dive until the complete course of antibiotics is over. Generally it means about 3 weeks of dry time.

Since I started using "ear beer" (a 50-50 mix of rubbing alcohol and white wine vinegar for 5 minutes in each ear) I have not had a single ear infection... except for the one time I forgot. ;-) Give it a try!

DAN Divers Alert Network : More On Swimmers Ear (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/articles/article.asp?articleid=49)
Heh. When I was a kis and went to my little old summer camp, they'd give us vinegar-and-water eardrops every day after every swim. Everyone smelled like salad dressing!

Quero
01-10-2009, 17:49
Standard "ear infection" usually means swimmers ear.

Guess it depends on whether you're a parent.... As a mom of three, when I hear "ear infection" the first thing that comes to mind is "otitis media" (middle ear infection) since that's what little kids tend to get. I've never had "otitis externa" (swimmer's ear) nor have any of my kids!

Funny how our own personal experiences color what we understand. I suppose I'm lucky that my recent bout of "ear infection" (otitis media) only took two weeks to clear up rather than the three it takes the Dude to get over a hit of otitis externa. :smiley20:

wgt
01-11-2009, 08:31
The point raised by cummings66 regarding a functional self-assessment is valid and important, whether conducted 3 minutes, 3 weeks, or 3 years following treatment for an infection or inflammatory process affecting the middle ear (this would include colds, etc.). I would elaborate that the salient point is not simply that the ear clears, whether driving down a hill or under other simulated conditions. Rather, I would advise considering the reliability of the pressurization and depressurization of the middle ear across time.

If assessing the functional integrity of the airway between the throat and the middle ear, one can first perform a valsalva maneuver or whatever variant would normally be used during a dive. This should occur without difficulty or pain. Then, the pressure within the middle ear should drop immediately with swallowing. This or an equivalent test (e.g., rapidly changing elevation) ought not simply to be performed on a one-time basis following a middle ear disturbance, however. Rather, one ought to repeat the assessment periodically over the course of hours or even days to minimize the probability that a dive will be undertaken with an unreliably functioning Eustachian tube.

It is also worth noting that, even following what appears to be a complete cure, the tissues related to the middle may require a little "breaking in." It is clearly better to do this before rather than during a dive to increase comfort and confidence.

Note that I have not commented regarding infection of the outer ear.


For me, I can tell if I can dive by how my ears clear during my normal daily activities. IE if I go down a steep hill and can clear my ears then I'm able to dive.

I would suggest that if you have any symptoms that you not dive as IMO it's easy enough to cause damage under pressure. Not worth the risk.

BarbadosSlim93
01-11-2009, 10:05
I do appreciate the responses to this thread. I am healed but called off the pool time this weekend and know that honest self evaluation will be what will extend my longevity in this sport. I am glad to know that I have DAN as a resource, and I am actually signing up for coverage before my next dive.

Lulubelle
01-11-2009, 10:38
Good advice from our esteemed wgt on how to assess dive readiness in the presence of an ear infection. This can be no light matter depending on the location and degree of the problem. I would hate to see someone incur an injury that was not compatible with future diving.

I would encourage folks with these medical questions to utilize DAN and their private physicians for these questions. One can't look in your ear via the internet to determine the nature and severity of the problem. That would be like me trying to diagnose your rash by phone.

And folks will tend to give you their advice based on their experiences which may not be relevant to yours. So for problem solving strategies involving medical issues, sure, but for readiness to dive questions, go to the above sources.



The point raised by cummings66 regarding a functional self-assessment is valid and important, whether conducted 3 minutes, 3 weeks, or 3 years following treatment for an infection or inflammatory process affecting the middle ear (this would include colds, etc.). I would elaborate that the salient point is not simply that the ear clears, whether driving down a hill or under other simulated conditions. Rather, I would advise considering the reliability of the pressurization and depressurization of the middle ear across time.

If assessing the functional integrity of the airway between the throat and the middle ear, one can first perform a valsalva maneuver or whatever variant would normally be used during a dive. This should occur without difficulty or pain. Then, the pressure within the middle ear should drop immediately with swallowing. This or an equivalent test (e.g., rapidly changing elevation) ought not simply to be performed on a one-time basis following a middle ear disturbance, however. Rather, one ought to repeat the assessment periodically over the course of hours or even days to minimize the probability that a dive will be undertaken with an unreliably functioning Eustachian tube.

It is also worth noting that, even following what appears to be a complete cure, the tissues related to the middle may require a little "breaking in." It is clearly better to do this before rather than during a dive to increase comfort and confidence.

Note that I have not commented regarding infection of the outer ear.


For me, I can tell if I can dive by how my ears clear during my normal daily activities. IE if I go down a steep hill and can clear my ears then I'm able to dive.

I would suggest that if you have any symptoms that you not dive as IMO it's easy enough to cause damage under pressure. Not worth the risk.