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rogerbn
03-11-2009, 09:57
I have a buddy that was thinking about learning how to dive and advised me that he has a bad problem with ear infections when he gets water in his ears. I have noticed that they have certain ear plugs in the dive store that say they are ok to dive with. Would these be a something that he would be able to benefit from? Does any one know of some good products or use the ear plugs for diving?

Skred
03-11-2009, 12:02
My first suggestion would be that your buddy discusss his issues , his desire to dive and the earplugs with his physician.

That said, I do have experience with the earplugs assuming you're talking about Doc's Proplugs for diving. I used to have increasingly difficult to impossible equalization issues when doing multiple dives per day over multiple days. Using the Proplugs in those situations proved to be very beneficial.

Again, I can only vouch for my own results and I don't have a history of ear infection. Have your buddy consult his physician.

Doc's Proplugs: The Doctor's Choice for Ear Protection (http://www.proplugs.com)

CompuDude
03-11-2009, 12:07
I have a buddy that was thinking about learning how to dive and advised me that he has a bad problem with ear infections when he gets water in his ears. I have noticed that they have certain ear plugs in the dive store that say they are ok to dive with. Would these be a something that he would be able to benefit from? Does any one know of some good products or use the ear plugs for diving?

Honestly, I wouldn't.

Instead use "ear beer", a simple mix of 50-50 isopropyl alcohol and white wine vinegar. Pour it into each ear for a full five minute (per ear), and infections will be a thing of the past. I used to have issues with chronic ear infections as well, but not a single one since I started using the ear beer. (Except that one time I decided not to bother... oops!)

Articles from DAN on the topic of ear infections and ear plugs are here:

DAN Divers Alert Network : Can You Prevent Otitis Externa, or Swimmers Ear? (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/articles/article.asp?articleid=48)
DAN Divers Alert Network : More On Swimmers Ear (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/articles/article.asp?articleid=49)
DAN Divers Alert Network : Unplugged: Use of Earplugs In Scuba Divers (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/articles/article.asp?articleid=33)

wgt
03-11-2009, 12:27
Although I know what you mean, I would advise caution with bold statements such as "infections will be a thing of the past." It is also worth noting that the ear beer only reduces the probabilities of contracting infection of the outer ear. The solution does not have any impact on infection arising within the middle ear. Your advice is otherwise sound, as usual.




Instead use "ear beer", a simple mix of 50-50 isopropyl alcohol and white wine vinegar. Pour it into each ear for a full five minute (per ear), and infections will be a thing of the past.

CompuDude
03-11-2009, 12:48
Although I know what you mean, I would advise caution with bold statements such as "infections will be a thing of the past." It is also worth noting that the ear beer only reduces the probabilities of contracting infection of the outer ear. The solution does not have any impact on infection arising within the middle ear. Your advice is otherwise sound, as usual.




Instead use "ear beer", a simple mix of 50-50 isopropyl alcohol and white wine vinegar. Pour it into each ear for a full five minute (per ear), and infections will be a thing of the past.

Good point... I should clarify I was referring to external ear infections (the most common, however, by far), not middle ear infections. That's a whole different animal requiring a doctor's care.

Straegen
03-11-2009, 12:55
They make a mask that covers the ears when diving. I would advise against ear plugs as they could make equalization or the reverse more difficult for some people.

PRO EAR SCUBA DIVING GEAR TEMPERED GLASS SILICON MASK - SEAVENGER - Pro Ear Mask - Scuba diving (http://seavenger.com/scuba-diving-divers-mask-blue-p-117.html)

For swimming, I use silicon ear plugs:

Mack's White Silicone Reusable Ear Plugs<br><font size="2">America's Best Selling Retail Ear Plug! For water, snoring, biking and more.</font> - Snoring Relief Ear Plugs (http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/macwhitadsiz.html)

cummings66
03-11-2009, 16:07
One other thing to note, I see many divers drip it in, tip the head do the other side, empty out and consider it done.

Nope, it's supposed to be a 5 min per ear affair. To be honest, I don't do 5 minutes either but I do a couple. The DAN articles referenced Navy stuff which prescribes 5 minutes. Start of the day of diving, before diving, and then at the end of the day of diving. That's 20 minutes a day, and it is supposed to work.

CompuDude
03-11-2009, 16:21
One other thing to note, I see many divers drip it in, tip the head do the other side, empty out and consider it done.

Nope, it's supposed to be a 5 min per ear affair. To be honest, I don't do 5 minutes either but I do a couple. The DAN articles referenced Navy stuff which prescribes 5 minutes. Start of the day of diving, before diving, and then at the end of the day of diving. That's 20 minutes a day, and it is supposed to work.

I do the full 5 min per ear. Takes about 12 minutes, all told (including setup, switching ears, etc.)

Once only, at the end of the dive day. I really see no benefit to using the solution before your dive, since there aren't any waterborne bacteria in your ear that cause problems, normally. You need to kill the critters that get in during the course of your dive, that's the important part. What I know is I was getting ear infection regularly until I started this regimen, and none since (except when I didn't follow the regimen). No promises or guarantees beyond that. If someone wants to do the morning routine as well, more power to them.

Damselfish
03-11-2009, 16:40
I would advise against ear plugs as they could make equalization or the reverse more difficult for some people.

Solid plugs yes, but the plugs in question are vented and don't make equalization more difficult. I use them and they help me a great with equalization.

That said, since they're vented, they don't actually stop water from getting in the ears, just slow it down. It's claimed since they reduce the amount of water going in and out, they help prevent infections, but who knows. Ear beer is a very good idea even if using the plugs.

Grin
03-12-2009, 09:40
I used to do the alchohol/vinegar thing. When I first started diving I had bad issues with outer ear infections. Many trips, to many ear docs, I was continually told ear wax is there to protect the ear canal and I had little, or no, ear wax in my one problem ear. The only ear infection you will get from diving is a outer ear infection, caused by water absorbed in the ear canal. With little, or no, ear wax in your ear canal to keep that water from saturating the tissue, expect problems.
I started with out ear infections("swimmers ear" is the common name for it), I started using the mix, for 5 mins in my one problem ear, for a couple years and eliminated the infections, and I was happy. I quit cleaning my ear canal out with swabs regularly, and let some ear wax build up in there. Now, I no longer use the mix, or have swimmers ear at all. I occassionally clean out a little ear wax with swabs like they tell you not to. But I do not clean my ears like I used to, pryor to getting into diving. Really, I only kind of put a swab in there to see that there really is wax in there and don't rub it out.
Another factor that diving might present to your ears is cold water in them aggravating your ears a little. Usually clogged ears the day after diving, due to cold water and lots of clearing. This is simply cured by a hood. If the water is that cold you should be wearing a hood anyway. This is not a ear infection at all. Diving can't cause ear infections in any other way than the swimmers ear thing. Cold water can aggravate a existing mild ear infection though.
Clearing is a entire different subject revolving ears and diving. Clearing has zero to do with ear infections so I'll leave that for another discussion. Plain and simple the only ear infection discussion related to diving is out ear infections.
Ear plugs are a bad idea IMO. The Docs Pro Plugs, that have a little hole to releive pressure might work, but if that hole plugged somehow, or something, you could eaisly be talking a blown ear drum. The Pro Plugs idea is to keep water out of the ear canal. The alchohol/vinegar mix idea is to remove the moisture that your outer ear canal absorbed during a dive without ear plugs. Both work! The best idea IMO is the mix for 5 mins in each ear. I just don't like the idea of plugging my ears in any way, while diving. Whatever you do, do not use non-diving ear plugs. That would be sure ear disaster waiting to happen.
I would see if your buddy has ear wax present in normal amounts in the ear canal. If so, forget about all of it and go diving. Dump the Pro Plugs idea and wear a warm hood to keep those ears happy. If this person is one of those people who swabs their ear canals clean regularly, expect to have to use the mixture to absorb the water out of the ear canal tissue after a days diving. This definatly works great!
Personally I see no reason for ear plugs of any sort in diving. Some swear by them though! If they could explain exactly why in a way that makes sence to me, I might buy it. But they just swear they work! I guess whatever works for you! I'm the type who needs to know why, and make sence out of it. It took me awhile but I got it all straight now. No ear beer for me for a couple years now, and no ear infections.

The only other problem I had with ears and diving was: I had a few issues with vertigo due to new hoods sealing my ears too good. What happened(yes! it took me awhile to figure this one out) was one ear slowly let water in, and the other did not through the dive. Upon accent the one ear had water in it, and the other air. Air on one ear drum with accent expansion and a slightly over sealed ear canal and one ear drum normal full of water. Plus, Add the temp difference presented to the two ears and Wahla! Vertigo upon accent!
Since I figured that one out, I now punch little holes in my hoods around the ears to allow water in throughout my dives. No vertigo for a couple years now!
My vertigo was mild but it scred me and i had to figure it out. A few trips to dive ear docs and one day discussion of the events stumbled upon this possibility. Once the idea was brought to my attention as a possibility, I interrogated, and adjusted, and realized this was the actual situation. It still suprises me a little.
For a few years now I have had zero ear issues with diving. What else you will find is there is so much bogus information on ears and diving. You gotto be careful what you read and believe. Even regular ear doctors will provide you completely useless information and diagnosises. You gotto go to dive ear docs. And even then it's tough to diagnose dive related ear isssues. And you have to be real careful with ear problems.

teamsterdiver
03-12-2009, 10:43
When using chemicals of any kind in the outer ear you can irritate the ear by changing the PH of the ear. Use sparingly.

Its been said that q-tips are not good for ear cleaning also, they can push ear wax more deeply in the ear canal. Best is to rinse with warm water and let air dry.

Damselfish
03-12-2009, 11:14
I suspect the people that recommend against the earplugs have never actually tried them, and have only theoretical concerns. Or are making a knee jerk recital of what was taught learned in OW, that you shouldn't use earplugs, which of course only refers to solid ones.

If the vent were to "plug" (which I've never experienced in many dives, or heard of anyone experiencing) you would not get a blown ear drum. You'd feel something was wrong long before that and simply remove the plug. It's not like you glue them in your ears with caulk.

CompuDude
03-12-2009, 12:09
I suspect the people that recommend against the earplugs have never actually tried them, and have only theoretical concerns. Or are making a knee jerk recital of what was taught learned in OW, that you shouldn't use earplugs, which of course only refers to solid ones.

If the vent were to "plug" (which I've never experienced in many dives, or heard of anyone experiencing) you would not get a blown ear drum. You'd feel something was wrong long before that and simply remove the plug. It's not like you glue them in your ears with caulk.

I recommend against them because DAN recommends against them.

That's not exactly a knee jerk recital from OW.

DAN Divers Alert Network : Unplugged: Use of Earplugs In Scuba Divers (http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/articles/article.asp?articleid=33)

Damselfish
03-12-2009, 15:40
well, actually they said "As for the use of earplugs, opinions differ on their use in scuba diving.". Then listed like 15 opinions from 10 people.

Grin
03-13-2009, 09:04
Like I said, people who use them can't explain why to any degree they makes sence! They just say "they work", and are wishy washy with their explanation.

Questions: What is the fix you found by using them? How do you figure the earplug helps your problem you set out to fix?

Just saying you wear them and they work tells us nothing. There must be a reason you decided to use them? You must have found a benefit? I am always listening and can retract my BS if someone can present their claim in a manner that makes a decent point. I am even willing to try to make sence of your claim if it's possible.

The outer ear is pretty simple and basic. Ear plugs, ear canal, ear drum is all the discussion can involve. It can't be too hard to figure out something that makes sence.

Grin
03-13-2009, 09:12
When using chemicals of any kind in the outer ear you can irritate the ear by changing the PH of the ear. Use sparingly.

Its been said that q-tips are not good for ear cleaning also, they can push ear wax more deeply in the ear canal. Best is to rinse with warm water and let air dry.

Both very true!

The correct mix of vinegar/alchohol and some water is supposed to be the same PH as the ear. DAN had a article a few years ago explaining this. I started my mix as 1/3 water, 1/3 alchohol, 1/3 vinegar after reaidng that article. Many use 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 alchohol and have no problems. I went to 1/2 and 1/2 for awhile also. If you dive alot, the biggest problem (I had) is this mixture, used all the time, cleanes out what wax you have left. Thus making using the "ear beer" stuff mandatory. And trying to build up some wax impossible. It took me awhile to get the wax back.

The Q tip thing is the most common heard quote from all ear doctors in the world. Obviously there are alot of people out there (myself used to be included) who like to clean out their ears with swabs. I am now a memeber of the nasty ear wax club. Yuk! But it makes my docs happy and I don't need the "ear beer" thing anymore.

Damselfish
03-13-2009, 09:35
Questions: What is the fix you found by using them? How do you figure the earplug helps your problem you set out to fix?

As I said before, they help me equalize, it's as simple as that. Especially when I'm doing multiple dives a day over a week, my ears start to get cranky after a couple days and equalizing becomes slow and difficult, and occasionally just won't happen so I wind up sitting out some dives to give them a rest.

Why they work for me I don't know, and honestly I care more that they work than why. There's a variety of theories, such as the water in year ear being warmer helps. Who knows? Don't use them if you don't want to. But please accept that they just do work for some people. (And I'm hardly a newbie, so don't tell me it's my imagination or my technique. ;)

Skred
03-13-2009, 13:02
As I said before, they help me equalize, it's as simple as that. Especially when I'm doing multiple dives a day over a week, my ears start to get cranky after a couple days and equalizing becomes slow and difficult, and occasionally just won't happen so I wind up sitting out some dives to give them a rest.


Same here. I have not missed a dive with ear related issues since I began using them. My ability to equalize is now consistent from dive to dive and from day to day.

Grin
03-14-2009, 12:57
I've heard the same from other threads. It doesn't make sence to me, but I guess there's maybe somthing to it. It's just hard to believe that your estation tubes care if your outer ear has plugs in them. Clearing has zero to do with the outer ear canal. Maybe if you don't wear a hood they keep your inner ears warmer (like you said) or something. If that's the case, a hood would really keep your ears happy, as a hood keeps your estation tubes(they run down your neck) and everything in all areas of the ear warmer. I wear a hood all summer even in 80 degree water for this reason. I agree keeping the ears warm keeps them happier. When I went though all my ear troubles, in the beginning, one of the first things I did was go hooded for all but the warmest of waters. My reason for the hood was to keep the neck/estation tube area warm to help with clearing. I never focused on the outer ear for my clearing issues. it doesn't make any sence to me. But who knows, maybe there's something to it. Somewhere along the line I completely resolved my clearing issues. I never ever have clearing as a issue anymore. Maybe it was the hood, it's been so long I forget.

Skred
03-14-2009, 20:07
I've heard the same from other threads. It doesn't make sence to me, but I guess there's maybe somthing to it. It's just hard to believe that your estation tubes care if your outer ear has plugs in them. Clearing has zero to do with the outer ear canal. Maybe if you don't wear a hood they keep your inner ears warmer (like you said) or something. If that's the case, a hood would really keep your ears happy, as a hood keeps your estation tubes(they run down your neck) and everything in all areas of the ear warmer. I wear a hood all summer even in 80 degree water for this reason. I agree keeping the ears warm keeps them happier. When I went though all my ear troubles, in the beginning, one of the first things I did was go hooded for all but the warmest of waters. My reason for the hood was to keep the neck/estation tube area warm to help with clearing. I never focused on the outer ear for my clearing issues. it doesn't make any sence to me. But who knows, maybe there's something to it. Somewhere along the line I completely resolved my clearing issues. I never ever have clearing as a issue anymore. Maybe it was the hood, it's been so long I forget.


I'm not ready to say that the Doc's Proplugs are the be all and end all. It could very well be that you and I have come to the same place by different paths. I just think that someone who is having issues should consider all the possible solutions.

paperdesk
04-09-2009, 23:57
I got a middle ear infection (Otitis Media) from diving so unfortunately the following quote isn't quite accurate. Otitis Media can result when forced equalizing pushes fluid rather than air through the eustation tubes into the middle ear, and causes an infection (or when germ-filled fluid is sucked up the eustacian tube by unequalized ears). And, it's no fun AT ALL. Google "Otitis Media scuba" and you'll find that middle ear infection is listed as a common diving illness.




The only ear infection you will get from diving is a outer ear infection, caused by water absorbed in the ear canal.

. . . Diving can't cause ear infections in any other way than the swimmers ear thing. Cold water can aggravate a existing mild ear infection though.
Clearing is a entire different subject revolving ears and diving. Clearing has zero to do with ear infections so I'll leave that for another discussion. Plain and simple the only ear infection discussion related to diving is out ear infections.

emt
04-10-2009, 08:33
Grin, I like the idea of putting small holes in the hood.
I seldom wear a hood but I have noticed one side occasionally having a air pocket vs. the other ear. It did not produce dizziness but it was a weird feeling for me.

CompuDude
04-10-2009, 13:10
Grin, I like the idea of putting small holes in the hood.
I seldom wear a hood but I have noticed one side occasionally having a air pocket vs. the other ear. It did not produce dizziness but it was a weird feeling for me.

Makes it a LOT easier to hear, as well.

I haven't done it to my hood yet, but I know a couple of instructors that have.

Giladriel
04-27-2009, 13:56
I am fixing to join the wonderful world of scuba diving. I start my classes in two weeks and was curious about the ear plugs. The book say's no, due to ear squeeze. However I already have a ruptured ear drum, I have tubes in my ear, and do not need to equalize pressure. However infections are a major concern that i'm told ear plugs will prevent.

any experianced divers out there that can lead me in the right direction?

thanks

CompuDude
04-28-2009, 03:01
I am fixing to join the wonderful world of scuba diving. I start my classes in two weeks and was curious about the ear plugs. The book say's no, due to ear squeeze. However I already have a ruptured ear drum, I have tubes in my ear, and do not need to equalize pressure. However infections are a major concern that i'm told ear plugs will prevent.

any experianced divers out there that can lead me in the right direction?

thanks

Sounds like you're looking for a medical opinion, which we can't really give (nor should we). While what you're describing sounds similar to what the sales materials for the ear plugs promise, you'd be best serve to speak to your ENT doctor about this (or at least call DAN).

IndyDiver
04-28-2009, 07:37
I am fixing to join the wonderful world of scuba diving. I start my classes in two weeks and was curious about the ear plugs. The book say's no, due to ear squeeze. However I already have a ruptured ear drum, I have tubes in my ear, and do not need to equalize pressure. However infections are a major concern that i'm told ear plugs will prevent.

any experianced divers out there that can lead me in the right direction?

thanks


My wife has tubes in her ears and wears Doc's proplugs when she dives to limit the amount of water that enters her outer ear, and hence what can enter her middle ear through the tubes. She has a set of restrictions from her ENT though. Open ocean diving only, no quarry diving due the the risk of ear infection due to water quality. No diving in really cold water - if the plug comes out, the rush of cold water could cause a nasty case of vertigo. Etc...

I definitely wouldn't try diving with tubes, with or without ear plugs, without a serious conversation with my ENT about the risks and how to mitigate them. My wife is not prone to ear infections, so diving may not even be possible for other people in this situation.

BTW, when talking about earplugs while diving, only vented earplugs are a possibility. Totally sealed earplugs cannot be used in any case.