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Love your Ears!

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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Site written and designed by: GoodieGoodie Ltd using Macromedia Studio MX.
Ear care advice given by Dr Ahmed at the Hyperbaric Chamber Sharm el Sheikh.
Diving advice taken from various instructors in the Sharm el Shekih area and Clare Wilders PADI MSDT.

Copyright Clare Wilders (formerly Clare Goodman) of DiveBunnie 2003-2013 all rights reserved. Reproduction of any images or articles within the DiveBunnie web-site in any format is not allowed without prior, written permission from the DiveBunnie creators.