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Can I dive at all?

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by z1000, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. z1000

    z1000 Angel Fish

    Hi all,
    As a prerequisite for the PADI open water course, I have to get a dive medical done due to a permanent moderate hearing loss in one ear. Sadly I have been declared unfit by two dive doctors who are uncertain if my physical conditions prevent me from diving. They of course pass on the bucket to specialists who I suspect will shrug their shoulders.

    I was born with a condition called unilateral microtia. In short, I have one ear with moderate conductive hearing loss, but no ear, canal, middle and inner ear structures on the other side. Although the working ear is fit for diving (never had an issue with pressure equalising at high altitude), dive doctors are not sure if the other missing ear will be problematic.

    So instead of wasting more resources getting another “I am not sure” response from so called specialist, I am wondering if any forum members have encountered divers with such or similar condition, or maybe there is a knowledgeable dive doctor here willing to shed some light on this subject.

    Been declared unfit for diving leaves me a bitter taste, what’s worse is this feeling has made me wanting to dive even more.

  2. pasley

    pasley Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Lakewood, CA
    I am Not a doctor, I am only an Adaptive SCUBA Instructor trained by the Handicapped SCUBA Association International (HSA).
    I understand you being unhappy about being medically disqualified from diving. It is true that some physicians who do not understand thphysicsis of diving will disqualify potential divers for conditions that are actually safe to dive anconverselyly, others will qualify potential divers with conditions that are unsafe to dive. Hence why the SCUBA instructor can say no to a person who has a medical clearance but can not say yes to one a doctor has said no to.

    Your question is both interesting and complex. I am not clear on if you Grade III Microtia or Grade IV Microtia. Perhaps a discussion of what our concerns as SCUBA instructors relatingting to the ears is in order:

    1. Normal Reactiontional SCUBA exposes you to pressures of 2 to 5 times that of standing at the sea shore.
    2. Failure to equalize airspaces in the ears can cause pain and possible damage to the eardrum and inner ear.

    So the questions to be answered IMHO in your case are:
    1. What is your exact level of unilateral microtia? Different levels have structures structurs and it is exact the structure of your ear that drives the question.
    2. Are there any airspaces which can be affected by the pressure of the ocean with an corresponding air space behind any membrane that would need to be equalized?

    Bottom line, is there a need to equalize in the right ear, and if so can you do seasilyly and eaisly? That is the question. I don't know the answer. But if you have not already done so contact the folks at Divers Alert Network 919-684-2948 for a free phone or e-mail consultation. A search of their website did not turn up anything, so you will have to talk to them and ask the question. They will provide a general answer and most likely refer yMedicine Dive Medicne Physician who can accestructureact structrue of your ears and formulate the appropriate and safe answer.

    Good luck to you.
    SandyRobinson likes this.
  3. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood MSDT ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: NA
    The real issue is what the heck happens if you damage the only ear you have with hearing with?
  4. redacted

    redacted Guest

    Seems to me that is the OP's decision once he understands the risks and should not be the business of some scuba training agency or instructor.
    aquaregia likes this.
  5. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood MSDT ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: NA
    Did I somehow imply otherwise? As long as the OP understands the potential risk of further hearing impairment, having only one functioning ear.
  6. Mark Derail

    Mark Derail Photographer

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Montreal, Quebec CA
    Have you tried freediving?

    Try the "deep end" of a large pool that's 3m, see you if stay down for 30+ seconds and be able to equalize. Then try a 10m pool (olympic style).

    Before my OW course and doing a few dives, my ears would hurt a lot from pressure in as little as 1m of water, and hurt more on the way down. Diving from a 3m diving board into a 10m pool, I'd come up as quick as possible.

    Now, I dive down with lungs about half full, equalize and make bubbles to the bottom. I can then stay on the bottom, sitting, with no weights, no pain.

    The other swimmers are usually freaked out that I can even do that.

    IOW, try before you buy. If you do PADI Discover instead, might be safer and easier.
    Remember that the doctor form is so that you don't end up suing the diving school / LDS / instructor.
    Prove you can do it first, then take the course.
  7. birdwrasse

    birdwrasse Manta Ray

    contact DAN...

    you'll be able to get credible and reliable information on diving with your condition.

    DAN Divers Alert Network

    Hawkwood likes this.
  8. buiszie

    buiszie Dive Shop

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia, Indonesia
    I agree with the last post, contact dan, descripe clear what u have and see what their answer will be...
  9. z1000

    z1000 Angel Fish

    Hi Pasley,

    Thank you very much for the reply. For your information it is a level III microtia, CAT scans shows no canal, drum, middle and inner ear structures.

    As per everyone's suggestion, I will contact DAN regarding the condition and try out the discovery dive first to prove my fitness. Fingers crossed!

  10. knotical

    knotical perpetual student

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ka'u
    This might vary with country, but you'll likely be confronted with a medical questionnaire even to do a Discover program.

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