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Thread: Ear infections

 


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    Absolutbill's Avatar
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    Ear infections

    My wife has had two bad ear infections after diving. We have only been diving for a short period of time but this has happened after two of our five dive trips. Her Dr. Prescribed nasal spray to use before diving as well as antibiotics to clear up the infection. Has anyone had experience using the alcohol based ear drying drops to alleviate/prevent infections?

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    blue steal's Avatar
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    The DAN website has an excellent article on ears. Check it out.
    I always wear a hood while diving and also for swimming/surfing use the vented doc pro plugs.
    I make my own ear drops. 70% of either a 94% or 70% alcohol with a 30% white vinegar.
    Has worked well for me as before using the hood and plugs I was on a first name basis with my ENT.
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    luckydays's Avatar
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    I get ear infections frequently. I keep a supply of ear drops for when it gets bad.

    To prevent the ear infections from coming, I use swimmers ear. Local drug store price is about $5. Its basically the same thing as the mixture Blue Steal mentioned above but I dont have a small bottle to keep the stuff in so I just buy a new bottle each season and keep it in my kit. At the end of the dive, I give each ear a squirt. So far, I am on year 2 of no ear infections from diving. I still get them in the winter and when I am sick though...

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    Her Dr. Prescribed nasal spray to use before diving as well as antibiotics to clear up the infection. Has anyone had experience using the alcohol based ear drying drops to alleviate/prevent infections?
    The juxtaposition of those two sentences makes me suspect that either your doctor is unfamiliar with diving ear problems (which is common) or he didn't communicate very well to you what kind of infection he felt your wife had.

    I wrote an ESSAY a while back to try to help folks get the distinction between external ear infections (which are prevented by, and treated with drops), and middle ear infections (which are a complication of barotrauma, which may be prevented with nasal sprays or decongestants, and which are treated with oral antibiotics).

    I would highly suggest that you watch Dr. Kay's VIDEO on the diver's ear. It will make a great deal clear.

    If your wife is getting external ear infections, then prophylactic drops can be very useful, but nasal sprays will do little or nothing to affect whether she gets them or not. If she is getting barotrauma, then "ear beer" won't help and antibiotics may not have been necessary.
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    I use the drops all the time after diving. After I finish up the commercial bottle, I make up a batch of my own. Mostly rubbing alcohol, some vinegar and a touch of glycern <sp> to replace the protective coating of ear wax that gets stripped away.

    I seem to have a natural propensity for external ear infections. Without the drops, I have about a 1 in 10 chance of getting extremely painful ear infections requiring a visit to the doc and antibiotic ear drops. I have had dozens of episodes over the years. A couple of times I delayed the doc and have lost some of my hearing (maybe its just old age, don't really know).

    With the drops I have never had an issue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSandM View Post
    The juxtaposition of those two sentences makes me suspect that either your doctor is unfamiliar with diving ear problems (which is common) or he didn't communicate very well to you what kind of infection he felt your wife had.

    I wrote an ESSAY a while back to try to help folks get the distinction between external ear infections (which are prevented by, and treated with drops), and middle ear infections (which are a complication of barotrauma, which may be prevented with nasal sprays or decongestants, and which are treated with oral antibiotics).

    I would highly suggest that you watch Dr. Kay's VIDEO on the diver's ear. It will make a great deal clear.

    If your wife is getting external ear infections, then prophylactic drops can be very useful, but nasal sprays will do little or nothing to affect whether she gets them or not. If she is getting barotrauma, then "ear beer" won't help and antibiotics may not have been necessary.
    I am not sure what the actual diagnosis was, I was not with her and only communicated with her by text since she was at the Drs. Earlier today. And if she has the problem in the future we will definitely be contacting a DAN recommended ENT doctor and not a primary provider. It does seem the doc is treating an inner ear infection with oral antibiotics and prescribing a nasal spray to possibly help prevent the problem in the future.

    I have been combing thought DAN's articles and bookmarking them for my wife to read so we are able to ask the right questions if this does happen again.


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    Quote Originally Posted by TSandM View Post
    I wrote an ESSAY a while back to try to help folks get the distinction between external ear infections (which are prevented by, and treated with drops), and middle ear infections (which are a complication of barotrauma, which may be prevented with nasal sprays or decongestants, and which are treated with oral antibiotics).
    You beat me to it...!

    This comes up a lot here. The diagnosis of "ear infection", especially when given by a doctor who doesn't spend a lot of time looking at ears (that is, and ENT doc or a pediatrician), is pretty non-specific. While nasal sprays (steroid based, decongestant based, or just saline) are VERY commonly given to promote the resolution of middle ear barotrauma, there isn't a lot of evidence that they do more than just time and the various maneuvers that help open the Eustachian tube.

    The example that I give in my practice about the confusion between middle and outer ear infections is that migraines and dandruff are both head problems, but that's about all that they have in common!

    Read TSandM's essay and watch Dr. Kay's video.

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    You said "dive trips", which leads me to believe you are doing vacation diving where you participate in numerous days of repetitive diving. I am prone to developing ear infections in this type of scenario as well, because my ears don't drain completely and the water left in my ears creates an infection.

    Having developed ear (external :-) infections after our first two dive trips also, I learned a very helpful trick. I take an ear dropper bottle and fill it half and half with alcohol and vinegar. The alcohol is a drying agent and the vinegar helps prevent the infection. I put drops in my ears after every dive and have not had the problem since! One thing I can guarantee is that it certainly won't cost much to give it a try

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    Many of us use decongestants and alcohol+vinegar mix. The OTC products in stores won't have vinegar. They work ok, but I have actually purchased that just for the bottle, poured it out, and put my own mix in. I like 1/2 - 50% alcohol + 1/2 - white vinegar. The home mix is virtually free so I replace it when it's a month old as I've heard the vinegar breaks down, which is why store products don't have any.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CajunDiva View Post
    You said "dive trips", which leads me to believe you are doing vacation diving where you participate in numerous days of repetitive diving. I am prone to developing ear infections in this type of scenario as well, because my ears don't drain completely and the water left in my ears creates an infection.
    We live in Naples Florida, so mostly day or weekend trips to key largo. Anywhere from one two tank boat, to six dives in two days.




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