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View Full Version : UPDATE! - Oh, for the love of my stupid ears!



Disneymom
07-26-2007, 08:19
UPDATE - post 35


I'm in the middle of my OW cert class. I had a pool session (my 2nd) last weekend, and got finished with one ear really plugged feeling. I did have some clearing issues. After talking to my instructor and DAN, I've been following a regimen of oral decongestants, vinegar/alcohol, Advil, guaifenesin,and Flonase. (nothing like overkill, right?) The ear opened back up after a couple days and now it's feeling a tad tender and kind of congested again.
<DIV>I'm supposed to go to the lake this weekend and try to complete the cert,butI decided to go to the doc today. I'm really afraid of what she's going to tell me.....if someone has some miracle suggestion, I'm certainly open.How 'normal' is this? DAN said the congestion is really common, especiall with new divers, and obviously I haven't been doing this long enough to know what 'normal' is andisn'tpost-dive. I don't want to miss this weekend, but my common sense steps in and says don't be stupid. </DIV>

OK - whine over - back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Queen
07-26-2007, 08:39
Feeling plugged up like you have water in your ears is pretty normal, experiencing pain is not (other than a bit of discomfort with a difficult equalization). Seeing your doc is a good idea.smileys/smiley20.gif

TAH 73
07-26-2007, 08:49
Agree with Queen, when dealing with ears error on the side of caution, not like a sprain, broken bone, severe injuries don't heal "as good as new" plus with an ear injury you are likely to be out of the water formore than a "few weeks"
<DIV>Go see the doc, and heed what advice what he/she gives.</DIV>
<DIV></DIV>

lucidblue
07-26-2007, 08:53
Keep us posted. I'm interested in what the doc has to say.

So DAN said the congestion is common with new divers? Did they explain why?

Queen
07-26-2007, 09:02
Keep us posted. I'm interested in what the doc has to say.

So DAN said the congestion is common with new divers? Did they explain why?


I was wondering about that too, my guess is they're not used to clearing their ears and may be a bit too forceful and/or frequent initially?

Disneymom
07-26-2007, 09:07
Keep us posted. I'm interested in what the doc has to say.

So DAN said the congestion is common with new divers? Did they explain why?
Yeah, they said because of all the "up and down" in the pool session, and new divers not always being proficient at being able to clear, or clearing often enough - that they see a lot of people like me with some congestion or water in an ear. Said it's probably the most common call/complaint they get, especially w/ new divers.
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV>I agree it's better to be safe - I'd rather miss a week than have a barotrauma incident and miss several. </DIV>

JahJahwarrior
07-26-2007, 09:38
I've been lucky, never had a problem with my ears. One girl in the class had a sniffle and complained of clearing problems, I had a full blown cold and cleared just fine....I'm blessed in that area, now if only I could smell things as well as other people.....

Be careful of a reverse block--pain upon ascent. If it happens, DON'T keep going up! Descend and go up more slowly. Make sure your instructor knows you have been having problems so he can keep an eye on you during your ascents and descents.

The doc you are seeing, is he/she ENT, or a diving medicine doc?

Disneymom
07-26-2007, 10:47
I've been lucky, never had a problem with my ears. One girl in the class had a sniffle and complained of clearing problems, I had a full blown cold and cleared just fine....I'm blessed in that area, now if only I could smell things as well as other people.....

Be careful of a reverse block--pain upon ascent. If it happens, DON'T keep going up! Descend and go up more slowly. Make sure your instructor knows you have been having problems so he can keep an eye on you during your ascents and descents.

The doc you are seeing, is he/she ENT, or a diving medicine doc?
JahJah - My doc is an ex-military doc - she's see her shareof divers in her time, although she is not a "diving" doc per-se. I think I'm going to have her refer me to an ENT just to confirm no permanent problems as a result of ear infections and severe allergies as a kid. There are no dive docs in our area - or our state - already checked with DAN.

Dive-aholic
07-26-2007, 11:17
Take some time off. If you're having tenderness, then it's not worth getting in the water.


I had some equalization issues when I first started diving. The first issue was not being able to clear. I had an instructor that told us to wiggle our jaws to clear. That just didn't work for me. I had to pinch my nose. But no one ever told me to just blow gently. I would descend and clear like there was no tomorrow. What would end up happening is I'd overequalize and get water back in my ears. Then I'd have a feeling of fullness for a couple weeks after diving while the water was being absorbed into my system. Now I clear just enough to equalize the pressure and I teach my students the same thing.

fire diver
07-26-2007, 12:06
One problem many new divers have is incorrect technique. Make sure you look upward a little when doing the valsalva (sp?) technique. Most people have a tendancy to look down, and this pinches off the eustation tubes.
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV>Good luck, I hope the doc says everything is fine.</DIV>
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV>FD</DIV>

JahJahwarrior
07-26-2007, 12:10
Valsalva--that's the pinch n' blow, right?

Some people clear by the wiggle jaw/swallow. Other's do the PnB, some people don't consciously do anything. I can only clear with the PnB.....

But you did have alot of ear infections and severe allergies as a kid? That might be playing into this :) Good luck with the doc, and remember, don't ever be afraid to call a dive if you don't feel like your ears are gonna do well. Call it in the parking lot. Call it the day before. Just don't hurt yourself! :)

WaterRat
07-26-2007, 13:52
As far as clearing the ears goes. I use the Valsalva and do a pre clear before I ever go under.To me itfeels like it everythinggets opened up before the pressure comes.
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV>Ron</DIV>

Disneymom
07-26-2007, 14:03
Valsalva--that's the pinch n' blow, right?

Some people clear by the wiggle jaw/swallow. Other's do the PnB, some people don't consciously do anything. I can only clear with the PnB.....

But you did have alot of ear infections and severe allergies as a kid? That might be playing into this :) Good luck with the doc, and remember, don't ever be afraid to call a dive if you don't feel like your ears are gonna do well. Call it in the parking lot. Call it the day before. Just don't hurt yourself! :)

<DIV></DIV>
<DIV>JahJah - yeah I did - at least the allergy part. I don'tknow about ear infections. I suspect so. That's why I think I want to see an ENT. In my head I've already called it, I've sent my instructor an email advising her I probably won't dive - I guess now I'll just sit on the shore with that sad puppy look. Oh, well - I can always swim. </DIV>
<DIV></DIV>
<DIV>I yawn/wiggle/swallow - Valsalva doesn't work really good for me. I may have to try looking up, though?</DIV>

Disneymom
07-27-2007, 07:41
Good news - no trauma, but slight ear infection. Started hard on antibiotics yesterday, changed my decongestant, try if I want - if it's painful, abort. :)
She's referring me to an ENT for eval.

Queen
07-27-2007, 08:24
Good news - no trauma, but slight ear infection. Started hard on antibiotics yesterday, changed my decongestant, try if I want - if it's painful, abort. :)
She's referring me to an ENT for eval.
Excellent! Be sure to give the antibiotics time to work, with your ears infected and sensitive it'll make equalizing a new and uncomfortable adventure.

JahJahwarrior
07-27-2007, 09:03
Suddenly I remember a reg with a built in asthma medication thing....haven't heard anything about it in a while now, but it was supposed to let asthmatic people dive too with their medicine incase they needed it.

What you need is a rgulator like that! Except for your ear. And with antibiotics and stuff in it. Yeah......


Tell us how the dives go! Or, how they don't go! :)

Disneymom
07-29-2007, 18:36
Suddenly I remember a reg with a built in asthma medication thing....haven't heard anything about it in a while now, but it was supposed to let asthmatic people dive too with their medicine incase they needed it.

What you need is a rgulator like that! Except for your ear. And with antibiotics and stuff in it. Yeah......


Tell us how the dives go! Or, how they don't go! :)They went GREAT!!!

wxboy911
07-29-2007, 20:45
I have had trouble with my ears in the past and I tried these last week...worked for me.

http://www.proplugs.com/

It was cheap and they worked-not only for me but my sister-in-law as well.

skistowe
07-30-2007, 22:01
I was on the same regimine of meds and made the mistake of not getting the correct decongestant. In Virginia you have to sign and show your drivers license to get the good decongestants. Unfortunately, some people buy the good decongestants to make illegal drugs. I have only had really good luck with Sudafed and nasonex. I had tried claritin d but the sudafed worked much better. The pharmacist also told me that the other versions of the decongestants that are out on the store floor, do not require a signature and the showing of a drivers license, but were not at potent as what was behind the counter. Also the ENT I went to, was recommended by DAN, he said 3 days prior to diving, start taking the meds to open everything up. The Sudafed and nasonex was the silver bullet.
All the best,
Jim

Moxie
07-30-2007, 22:34
I'm fortunate to not have had any problems with my ears when diving. But it looks like those of you who have managed to find great solutions.

Queen
07-31-2007, 07:05
My ears still aren't a 100% so I'm going to have to skip diving in FL next week. :(

Guess I'll just rent a longboard and surf instead. :D

Disneymom
07-31-2007, 07:58
Queen, that just stinks - I'm sorry.

Skistowe - I'm taking the 'good' stuff - the regular (real) Sudafed. We have the same requirements here - it's behind the counter and we have to show our DL.

WXboy - I may look into those if I continue to have problems and the ENT doesn't have a solution or reason for my problems.

CompuDude
08-03-2007, 17:36
Good news - no trauma, but slight ear infection. Started hard on antibiotics yesterday, changed my decongestant, try if I want - if it's painful, abort. :)
She's referring me to an ENT for eval.
If you end up being prone to ear infections (like I am... now) you'll want to start a regular regimen of post-dive ear care.

At the end of every dive day (don't cheat... I skipped it once. ONCE.) take a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol, and pour a little in your ear. Keep it in the for a full 5 min (very annoying... but don't cut it short) and then do the other ear.

Sucks, but pretty much 100% guarantees you won't miss a dive due to an ear infection again.

DirtyWaterIL
08-03-2007, 21:01
Hopefully you dont end up seeing a doctor with no cluse about diving who freaks out an tells you to abandon the sport due to lack of education on th subject.

thor
08-03-2007, 21:39
Better safe than sorry. When I did my OW, my allergies were acting up and I was pretty congested. I decided to dive anyway. BIG mistake. During my descent I felt a sharp pain. I leveled off and felt fine and then started my descent again, slowly. I felt sharp pain and then instant relief. No pain for the rest of the dive. I mistakenly thought that everything was better. When I surface it was like an explosion of blood. Good thing lakes don't have great whites. I ended up with a pretty serious sinus infection and many trips to the ENT. Couldn't dive for a long time. NEVER dive with a cold or bad congestion. Now, when I have slight allergies, I use a 12 hour nasal spray decongestant, that I use 2-3 hours before the dive. Works like a charm. I never dive if my allergies are bad. Learned my lesson the hard way

techgnostic
08-03-2007, 22:05
I have had trouble with my ears in the past and I tried these last week...worked for me.

http://www.proplugs.com/

It was cheap and they worked-not only for me but my sister-in-law as well.

They looking interesting on the site...and worked you say...hummmmmmm? I wonder if ST carries them?

techgnostic
08-03-2007, 22:08
I printed out a great ear related .pdf doc on the web a while back: The Diver's Complete Guide To the Ear by John Francis. Possibly on DAN's site? Google it anyway...worth the search. It helped me.

Disneymom
08-05-2007, 19:09
Compudude - I understand that is a good mixure, and even my regular physician said to use it.


Better safe than sorry. When I did my OW, my allergies were acting up and I was pretty congested. I decided to dive anyway. BIG mistake. During my descent I felt a sharp pain. I leveled off and felt fine and then started my descent again, slowly. I felt sharp pain and then instant relief. No pain for the rest of the dive. I mistakenly thought that everything was better. When I surface it was like an explosion of blood. Good thing lakes don't have great whites. I ended up with a pretty serious sinus infection and many trips to the ENT. Couldn't dive for a long time. NEVER dive with a cold or bad congestion. Now, when I have slight allergies, I use a 12 hour nasal spray decongestant, that I use 2-3 hours before the dive. Works like a charm. I never dive if my allergies are bad. Learned my lesson the hard wayOw!


I printed out a great ear related .pdf doc on the web a while back: The Diver's Complete Guide To the Ear by John Francis. Possibly on DAN's site? Google it anyway...worth the search. It helped me. I think I have that document - if it's the one I'm thinking, it's very good.

dallasdivergirl
08-05-2007, 22:55
i learned the hard way about the ear infection.

two days before my first dive trip i went to th dr with an ear issue, just a minor infection. i got my 10 day antibiotic & headed to belize. i had no problems all week but our next to last day i took my last pill. at the airport i was dizzy & feeling very pukey. i didn't think they would let me on the plane. next day at the emergency walki clinic. sinus & double ear infection. shot & another round of antibiotics. after that round, still not better. back to my regular dr. still sinus & ear infection. more pills. after 5 weeks I was almost healed up.

now part of this is i do have serious sinus problems, including a septum that makes most ENT say "wow" at how deviated it is. I also have bad reactions to antiobiotics. i have a book called "Sinus Suvirvial" this guy gets down to the bare bones of cause & effect of the disease. sinus irrigation is not fun or pretty but essential. i also discovered that all of the antibiotics were causing candida. i have changed my diet & some medication to get that under control. i have not been sick since i have made the changes. i hope to never have to take antibiotics again.

cummings66
08-06-2007, 18:45
Anytime a person takes antibiotics they need to take some kind of supplement that contains bacteria, something with a lot of acidophilus bacteria found in yogurt or some sort of pro biotic. It's good for you, occurs naturally and keeps your digestive system regular.

DivingsInMyBlood
08-06-2007, 18:51
Always carry some ear beer with you on every dive

techgnostic
08-06-2007, 19:21
I printed out a great ear related .pdf doc on the web a while back: The Diver's Complete Guide To the Ear by John Francis. Possibly on DAN's site? Google it anyway...worth the search. It helped me. I think I have that document - if it's the one I'm thinking, it's very good.

About 7 pages...lots of medical diagrams and multiple clearing techniques....

Flatliner
08-06-2007, 21:42
I have had a lot of problems with my ears since I started diving. Although neither of these suggestions will help with an infection, the best two things I have found are...

1.) Docs proplugs, get the red ones the clear ones are too easy to lose
2.) Watch the video on this page: http://faculty.washington.edu/ekay/

Flatliner
aka Robert

DivingsInMyBlood
08-06-2007, 22:03
I have had a lot of problems with my ears since I started diving. Although neither of these suggestions will help with an infection, the best two things I have found are...

1.) Docs proplugs, get the red ones the clear ones are too easy to lose
2.) Watch the video on this page: http://faculty.washington.edu/ekay/

Flatliner
aka Robert

Yeah im thinking of getting some pro plugs myself due to always getting a wack of water clogged in my ears all the time, I always wash my ears out with ear beer everytime i come out of the water.

Disneymom
08-22-2007, 19:33
Well, I've been to the ENT, had a CT scan and the jury is in.

After sticking lights and miniscule cameras in places cameras shouldn't go, the ENT said that everything appeared normal - no polyps, hearing OK, all visible structures looked good. He sent me for a CT scan which was Friday, and called today with the news.
The good news is that the eustachian tube is normal. All other structures in the middle ear are normal with the exception of the Mastoid area of the left (my problem) ear. He said it has fluid in it, likely 'normal' for me, but not normal physiology for most; and the treatment is to insert drainage tube, which, as he said, is NOT an option if I want to continue diving. So - lots of decongestants and guaifenisen for the days pre-dive and post-dive. He didn't say I had to stop - but did say it could be the cause of my equalization woes and post-dive 'ear-funk'.
I am not about to give this up! I'm afraid it's becoming a habit for me that will be harder to kick than drugs. I suppose I will take descents slow and perhaps may have to limit myself to 'conservative' diving - I guess my body will tell me when to stop. I think I'll try the proplugs.

Queen
08-22-2007, 21:23
Glad to hear diving is still doable for you. :thumb: It'd be nice if you didn't have to mess with the pills and stuff but to do what you love it'll be worth it.

eyezz
08-22-2007, 21:41
What I use is a decongestant, eg. non drowsy Claritin-D or Sudafed-pe this works for me and a lot of divers I know including instructors, Some may agree and some my not.

Bryanmc
09-10-2007, 23:09
My wife has a lot of trouble equalizing as well. Shee seems okay with the decongestant regimen but we're going to give Doc's plugs a chance as well...

Flatliner
09-24-2007, 21:59
Disneymom,

If you haven't watched the video I referenced, it's WAY worth it. Please watch it. The techniques he discusses REALLY help people who find equalization difficult.

Boris42
10-08-2007, 07:48
Disneymom,

If you haven't watched the video I referenced, it's WAY worth it. Please watch it. The techniques he discusses REALLY help people who find equalization difficult.

Great video! I never really had too much trouble equalizing, but now that I start before I even submerge it's even better. I can even get it done without pinching my nose most times. Thanks for the link.

Flatliner
10-10-2007, 16:59
Boris,

No problem. To be honest if someone at Scubaboard hadn't given me that link between day one and day two of my open waters, I am not sure I would still be diving.

RoadRacer1978
10-10-2007, 20:45
That is a great video. Very informative. Thanks Flatliner. Haven't had any problems with my ears yet and with some of this info hopefully I can keep it that way.

UCFKnightDiver
10-10-2007, 21:11
really ill have to try that sudafed works pretty well, but mainly for me the clearing problems start twords the end b/c in my ow class we go up and down all the time its really annoying!!!!!

danielh03
10-13-2007, 23:41
really ill have to try that sudafed works pretty well, but mainly for me the clearing problems start twords the end b/c in my ow class we go up and down all the time its really annoying!!!!!


what happens if it wears off during the last dive of the day? Could it not cause some major issues?

CaptainRon
10-14-2007, 00:14
Someone mentioned a pdf file titled "The Diver's Complete Guide To the Ear". It can be downloaded from here: http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/faq/download/DiversGuidetoEars.pdf

CompuDude
12-28-2007, 15:03
Just an update:

The UWTV video entitled "The Diver's Ear: Under Pressure" was pulled from the UWTV site a couple of months ago. I have been in contact with Julianne Collier, the show's executive producer, and Jo Ann Watson, the person in charge of programming over there, and convinced them of the need to make the video available again. They graciously agreed, and the video's new location is here:

The Diver's Ear: Under Pressure (http://www.researchchannel.org/asx/uw_hu_div_250k.asx)

Enjoy!

There is a good chance they will be getting it posted to Dr. Kay's website (http://faculty.washington.edu/ekay/) as well, in the not-too-distant future. Updates are pending.

skippy11
12-28-2007, 16:42
Hey Thanks for Sharing!! My Sister has been having lots of trouble w/ equalization.

kancho
01-08-2008, 22:51
I use the Pro Ear 2000 Mask. It is good if you have short hair. It worked for me. Not really course for courses where you need to take your mask on and off etc.. But for pleasure diving it is good. It is only 50 bucks.. I got the black one but maybe the blue looks better.

If you have ear problems you might want to consider it.

seanbesser
03-26-2008, 02:15
My wife has had ear infection and bleeding problems from diving and we were recommend the Pro Ear 2000.

Kancho: you say it is good for short haired people. Can you please elaborate on that? My wife has long hair and I want to know what issues we should be aware of.

Also, anyone have any ideas on price? The proear2000.com site lists them at $150+, but I am finding them via google searches for about $50. This seems like such a large disparity that it concerns me about the authenticity or quality of the $50 ones. Thoughts?

Thanks!

reactive
03-31-2008, 11:48
Wow, I'm glad to see I"m not the only one who had a problem with this. I just finished my open water cert last weekend. Everything was perfectly fine with equalizing and the like. I went down to 20ft in Vortex Spring on Saturday and down to 50ft on Sunday. I had no problems clearing and I had an absolute amazing time. It wasn't until the next day (Monday) I woke up with fluid draining out of my left ear. I was panicked that I had popped my eardrum because the draining fluid is a symptom and I had popped them before. I went to the doctor and I was relieved even though I was in pain to find out it was just an ear infection. I wasn't sure if this is common for new divers or veterans. I'm also relieved to find out that I'm not the only one. I bought a bottle of "Swim Ear" (alcohol and vinager mixed) and I keep it in my dive bag now. I've been on antibiotics for the past week and I can't wait for this to clear up so I can get back in the water and practice my buoyancy and proper weighting!!

frogman159
03-31-2008, 17:06
This video is top notch thanks for posting

Flatliner
03-31-2008, 21:05
My wife has had ear infection and bleeding problems from diving and we were recommend the Pro Ear 2000.

Kancho: you say it is good for short haired people. Can you please elaborate on that? My wife has long hair and I want to know what issues we should be aware of.

Also, anyone have any ideas on price? The proear2000.com site lists them at $150+, but I am finding them via google searches for about $50. This seems like such a large disparity that it concerns me about the authenticity or quality of the $50 ones. Thoughts?

Thanks!

My guess is that someone bought quite a few and they have never really cought on. $50 is better than $0. If you can find them for $50 buy them. Can't hurt to give them a try.

As an aside, I have found that the pro-plugs work pretty well.

fkostyun
04-01-2008, 14:09
I "occassionally" use the pro-plugs (especially if my ears are feeling weird) - I had a couple ear infections last summer that were quite painful (my normal "lake" is about 89-90 degrees in the late summer at the surface - so I don't think that that helps it)

I have taken to using the swim-ear stuff after diving - and I haven't had any problems since then, it just helps get the water out of there and dry it out.