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So you love love love diving, but your ears are a little more sensitive than you would like them to be. Or maybe you are a dive
professional who has sadly found that whilst they have the energy and inspiration to keep going, their ears have turned out to be a bit of a weak spot.
It is pretty inevitable that once in a while as a diver, you are going to encounter a cold at just the wrong time or slight ear problems.
Ok there is not really much that can be done if you have a cold and cannot equalise and I am not here to give you some magic remedy that is going to give you nice open sinuses and sturdy ear drums
that can withstand the most aggressive of dive trips.
However having encountered typical "dive guide's ear drum" I can give you a few preventative tips from a layperson's point of view. Of course
the usual common sense comes into play here, so please do always see a doctor first, if you have any problems with your ears or suspect any kind of infection.
I was given some very good advice for improving the health of my eardrums
by our local dive doctor here in Sharm:
Firstly and fairly obviously, eat a healthy diet, one that is high in protein (meat and nuts) and vitamin C (fresh fruit, in particular Kiwi fruit and citrus fruits;
Drink plenty of warm drinks;
Chew sugar free gum, the xylotol has an almost antibiotic effect on the sinuses, and the chewing action keeps the eustacian tubes well "exercised".
There are now some long lasting decongestants available, that are being
approved for diving (be aware of limitations when using Nitrox with some
of these, however), but that is your call. You could be on a holiday for
which you may have saved all year. However, look at it another way, if
you are not needing to dive for your keep, why risk damaging your ears
for the sake of a couple of dives. Conversely whilst short term use of
certain decongestants can aid equalisation for professionals needing to
complete a course or a week's guiding, you equally run the risk of your
sinuses devloping an immunity to the drug or more than likely a dependency
on it to remain clear. Resulting in problems that could then affect your
career. Again it is your call. At least now I guess we do have a bit of
an option, whereas previously, using any kind of decongestant ran the
risk of creating a nasty reverse block.
As we have stated previously, whilst some of the above tips were given
to me by dive doctors, with regards to prevention do consult your own
dive doc should you have any problems or worries at all. And remember
that it does not have to be excruciatingly painful to be doing damage.
If your ears are crackling and squeaking, feel full or you find sounds
are muffled, that is a sign that all is not quite right and you might
want to get things checked out.
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