• Aurora Team

Common ear problems when scuba diving

Ear problems are one of the most common issues for new and experienced scuba divers. Unfortunately, we do not tend to realize we have these issues until we start to dive. Then the hassle of ear problems can build up, the nerves build and the joy of diving recedes. This is not what we want as ocean lovers.

Ear problems can easily ruin your dive trip or vacation when you are unable to dive. One thing to note is that understanding the ear and why issues arise will help you overcome such problems. Meaning precautions can be taken and methods to reduce the likelihood that they will start. By following some simple good habits, you can almost surely leave ear problems behind and enjoy every dive in your beautiful women's diving wetsuit.

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Our ears when scuba diving

Your ears are crucial organs for hearing, but not just that, they also aid our ability to balance. During diving, we must take care of our ears with the utmost care. Due to pressure changes, your ears are prone to damage if abused. You should there to make sure to take all your dive slow and steady, especially during descent and ascent. To allow your ears to equalize and give you time to use your preferred method. Interested to learn more about ear equalization during scuba diving? Follow our blogs with an in-depth look at equalization coming soon.

Scuba diving can take its toll on your ears. There are two reasons for this; one is the presence of water in the ear canals and the other is the effect of pressure on the eardrum (tympanic membrane). Water dissolves and flushes away the wax from the ear canal which is the ear's natural protection. This allows the delicate skin of the ear canal to become waterlogged. Therefore losing its effective ability to protect the underlying structures from infection and swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) developing.

3 Types of scuba diving ear problems

The most common diving ear problems you get will generally fall into three categories. Ear problems can fall into the outer ear, which makes up your ear including the actual ear. The ear canal and all areas up until your eardrum. The second category your ear problem may fall into is the inner ear, which includes everything the other side of the eardrum. Inner ear problems can be related to all the following, your middle ear, oval window, and round window. The final category for ear-related issues can be your Eustachian tubes and your sinuses. The Eustachian tube is the inner ear part that allows you to equalize during scuba diving. By supplying your ear with air through the tubes allowing equalization.

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L. Chittka; A. Brockmann - Perception Space—The Final Frontier, A PLoS Biology Vol. 3, No. 4. Vector by Inductiveload

Outer ear scuba diving problems

The outer ear is commonly prone to two types of issues. Both infections and wax build-up can result in severe pain. Not just while scuba diving, but also during everyday life, making sleeping very difficult. If you have a build of ear wax, this can create a block. Meaning that it can be impossible to equalize or very difficult to do so without applying forceful pressure. A simple solution to this is to rinse your ears with warm water to drain excess wax. There is some do it yourself products on the market, however, we would suggest avoiding things such as ear candles. These pull out the wax. Rather seek professional medical assistance in order not to create further damage.

Ear infections can come in different forms that affect the outer ear. Most can be easily overcome with ear drops, seek a doctor to guarantee the correct drops that will treat the infection and inflammation. Should you be prone to ear infections there are some simple precautions we can take as divers. Firstly we would recommend protecting the ears from unwanted debris, while on a diving trip. Going out on a boat can be a windy place, unknowingly dust, foreign objects and sand can be blown into the ear. Therefore creating a higher chance of infection, wear a long side hat, or headscarf to protect your ears when it's windy. After each dive make sure to rinse your ears out with clean, freshwater. Adding a drop of vinegar can also help prevent ear infections, acting as natural protection.

Inner ear problems when scuba diving

Inner ear problems can fall into two categories, Infections and Baratraumas. Infections can be caused by multiple things, and the only way to find out the problem is to seek medical advice from your doctor. Who will assess the infection and prescribe the correct medicine as required. A healthy precaution to avoid infections is to maintain healthy ears in general, especially before dives in order not to over push the demand your ears.

Barotraumas is an injury to your inner ear which is caused by pressure. The main reason for this is the lack of care of equalization during descent. Maybe you equalized to forcefully, not equalized enough or forgot to equalize. To avoid Barotrauma injuries take each dive slow and steady, especially on your descent. Take your time, making sure to equalize more often than less. Avoid fast descents, enjoy the dive in your women's scuba diving wetsuit or diving leggings, and be as safe as possible. Keeping your ears in good health, unblocked, and treating them as the gentle organs they are while reducing the risk of barotrauma injuries.

Eustachian tubes and sinus problems

As Eustachian tubes are crucial to your ability to equalize, it is important as divers to only dive when in good health. Do not dive should you feel congested, have cold or feeling groggy. Eustachian issues are caused by blocked tubes and/or inflammation. The most common times divers have a problem is diving slightly congested or the end of a cold. Where the mucus build-up will interfere with your equalization during descent. Which can lead to some people forcefully equalizing to continue the dive, in turn too much pressure on the ear will cause a painful barotrauma injury. We highly discourage the use of decongestants or ear sprays to your dive.

Reverse blocks are another scary ear problem to encounter during a dive. Affecting the ears or sinus, reverse blocks, and very unpleasant indeed, similar to a squeeze you may feel on a descent. But this time upon your ascent to the surface. As you ascend the air pressure reduces, at which point air would normally work its way out naturally its self due to the water pressure change. If there is excess mucus in the ear or the sinus this can create a blockage, where the air is unable to escape naturally. This creates a build-up of pressure, the imbalance of pressure creates pain. To resolve this issue simply descend a little and slowly until the pain is gone. Allow the trapped air to work its way out and then continue your ascent at a slower speed, allowing the air to naturally work its way out without any pressure build-up or pain.

scuba diving leggings for free dive

Do you love diving? If so then keeping your ears clean and healthy should be one of your top priorities. If you are to have issues, that can mean no diving, calling a dive off last minute, or even worse medical ear problems. It's much better to hang your beautiful women's diving wetsuit for a day or two dry and allow your ears to recover. Rather than risk a dive and risk not diving again into the beautiful underwater world we love.

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