Top Ten Ear Problems In Scuba Diving
It’s fundamental . . .
Equalizing your air spaces is something you need to do every few feet as soon as you begin your descent. If you don’t do this you will have a problem, so you will need to ascend a few feet and try again. You should start this even before you get into the water. The most common way to depressurize your ears is to squeeze your nose shut and blow gently against it with your mouth closed.
If you’re successful you should feel a soft “pop” in both ears.
If you can’t clear, abort your dive to prevent possible permanent ear injuries.
Be sensitive to your ears.
Next to “always breathe and never hold your breath” this is probably the most important rule in scuba diving. Remember too, that while using the Valsalva method, blow gently, never forcefully, to prevent an ear injury.
If you have a cold or a sinus problem, don’t dive.
Even while ascending, you could experience a condition called a “reverse block”.
This happens when the air that is expanding during your ascent can’t escape your air space. The pain is because the surrounding water pressure is now less than the pressure in your air space. (Remember Boyle’s Law?)
Fortunately reverse blocks are not very common and are often the result of diving with congestion. This usually happens when the decongestant you’re using runs out during a dive.
Did you forget this part already? If you have a cold or a sinus problem, don’t dive.
Outer ear pain after a dive is usually the result of equalizing too hard or diving a “yo-yo” or “up and down” dive profile. This over-stresses your ear and makes you look like an idiot…don’t do that.
This pain can sometimes be relieved by a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and distilled water bath (the ear, not you) followed by a little vitamin E and maybe the odd anti-inflammatory.
Disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been a doctor. I do not now nor have I ever played one on TV. I do, however know a doctor but that’s a completely different story and we won’t go into that here.
If you are one of those unfortunate divers who haven’t discovered the Caribbean yet you can also experience a problem with a “too tight hood” which is either a group of neighbors that are just a little too close or a large piece of neoprene that you pull over your head.
I’m just not sure.
Anyway, if you have problems equalizing with either one of these things you can just pull the hood away from your ears for a second while you equalize.
You can also use a pin to punch a hole in the side of the hood at a spot near your ears so you don’t have to pull on the sides of your hood all the time.
Please tell me you will not do this while the hood is still on your head.
Another air space you need to be aware of is your mask.
If you don’t equalize your mask you could possibly have what is known as a “mask squeeze”. This can pop the capillaries in the whites of your eyes and results in a really scary thing where all the whites of your eyes turn red.
You can prevent this simply by exhaling through your nose every few breaths.
Luckily for us this is completely painless and goes completely away in just a few days on it’s own.
So if you’re going to do this make sure it’s Halloween and you already have the rest of your Dracula costume.
Happy Diving boys and girls!