If you’re an avid diver, there are probably few things that can keep you out of the ocean. From Bali to Australia to Hawaii and beyond, there are endless underwater wonderlands to explore. Large spans of time spent underwater, however, can also lead to health problems, particularly for your ears. If you have ear pain after diving, or diving ear problems of any sort, there are many ways to combat these issues, and keep them from happening in the first place. If you’re an avid diver, here are three common diving ear problems and how to avoid them.
Problem 1: Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s Ear or otitis externa is a type of ear infection. Unlike the type of ear infection you might have when you get sick, this is an infection of the outer ear. You can usually tell the difference between the two by gently putting your finger in your ear; if doing this is painful that’s a sign of Swimmer’s Ear. This disorder is caused by spending lots of time in water with high levels of bacteria. When your ears are wet all the time, this fosters an environment in which bacteria can grow.
How To Avoid It:
The Center for Disease Control says the easiest way to prevent Swimmer’s Ear is by keeping your ears dry; wet environments foster bacteria growth so if your ears are dry the bacteria cannot grow. Drying your ears after diving with a towel or hair dryer is an easy preventative measure. Using acQuaMD after diving is one of the best ways to get water out of your ear and keep your ear canals dry to prevent bacteria growth. If you think you have Swimmer’s Ear, consult your physician. Common treatments include home care remedies, and antibacterial and anti fungal medications.
Problem 2: Barotitis Media
Barotitis Media, also known as Middle Ear Barotrauma, is when pressure causes fluid to accumulate in the middle ear and can cause the eardrum to rupture. This is a common problem for divers, and can also happen when flying, hiking, or driving through varying altitudes. Indicators include feelings of fullness or fluid in the ears and difficulty hearing or loss of hearing.
How To Avoid It:
The American Hearing Research Foundation says you can prevent this condition by descending slowly, and ending your dive if you are unable to equalize after your first few attempts. Not diving if you have a cold or are congested can also help prevent this condition. If you think you have Barotitis Media, consult your physician as soon as possible and don’t dive or fly until your doctor says your condition has healed.
Problem 3: Inner Ear Barotrauma
Inner Ear Barotrauma is correlated with Barotitis Media. This happens when you are unable to equalize your middle ear and you try to equalize your ears with excessive force. This added pressure can over pressurize your middle ear and cause damage to your inner ear as well. Common signs of inner ear barotrauma include dizziness, vomiting, reduced hearing, and ringing from within the ears.
How To Avoid It:
You can avoid Inner Ear Barotrauma the same way you would avoid Barotitis Media: by taking precaution while descending and avoiding forceful equalization, as well as avoiding diving while congested or during a cold. The American Hearing Research Foundation says this condition is more serious than Middle Ear Barotrauma, and requires immediate medical attention. Patients can be hospitalized and placed on bed rest, and sometimes surgery is necessary. Divers should not return to the ocean without physicians permission so the condition does not worsen and to avoid permanent injury.
At acQuaMD, we believe in preventing ear pain after scuba diving and ear problems of all kinds to keep you happy, healthy, and in the water. To learn more about our device, visit our website today!
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