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Ear Barotrauma on first dive

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by tlbashore, Jul 28, 2020.

  1. tlbashore

    tlbashore Garibaldi

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Maui
    I was just certified and have to say I am in love! I have a lot to work on and look forward to many more dives to come.

    The downside is I have allergies. I knew this going into diving. When I did my first day, it was challenging to equalize and I kept hearing a squeaking sound. I then realized I was trying to equalize too hard (as per my Dr. there was already fluid in my Eustachian tubes) I did quickly realize that if I held my nose and swallowed this was much better for me to equalize, but the damage was done.

    I then continued to dive for two more days to complete my certification. I did inform each instructor of my clogged ear (I had no pain nor dizziness). I treated with antihistamine and decongestants but alas it became too much and went to the Dr. I have unilateral ear infection with Barotrauma in both ears (only one was giving me issues). Now I am on treatment of antibiotics and prednisone and can not be in water for at least two weeks.

    I have a follow up with the ENT in two weeks. I have been assured my diving will continue but need to get a handle on what is happening in my Eustachian tubes as well.

    Allergies are no joke when diving and I tell this story so you will be aware. Squeaking in your ears is NOT a good thing!! It’s like a balloon squeezing out air.

    Talk to your Dr!! Oh and Happy Diving!!
  2. HKGuns

    HKGuns Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Merica
    I hope you heal quickly.

    Sounds like you aren't willing to let this set back stop you which is an excellent attitude.

    My left ear wouldn't clear this past weekend and at 20 feet I had to ascend back to 10 feet to get it to clear.

    Always clear early and often. I even practice at home so my ears are used to being pushed a bit.
  3. Subcooled

    Subcooled Assistant Instructor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Finland
    A slow descent is sometimes helpful. It gives your ears time to equalize.

    The greatest relative change in pressure per foot of depth happens near the surface.

    Hence, the deeper you are the less you have problems (per foot). Every minute spent descending down to 33 feet (2 ATA) is worth it if you have equalization problems often. Why not use ten minutes instead of one?
  4. Barnaby'sDad

    Barnaby'sDad ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Virginia
    I’ve got allergy issues, as well. On days with multiple dives, I have to take my time descending. If I’m descending too quickly (for my ears)...I get that weak “squeak,” rather than a good/solid equalization.

    It is sometimes necessary for me to ascend slightly, let my ears adjust to that pressure, and then work my way back down again.

    ex. I did three 90’ dives one day. The first dive I pretty much bombed right down the line without an issue. The second dive, I had to slow down a couple times. The third...I had to make a few stops.
    chillyinCanada and tlbashore like this.
  5. Scraps

    Scraps ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida
    Welcome to diving and to Scubaboard!

    I'm sorry you experienced the ear problems, but glad you're getting good care. Once you're recovered, you'll work out the best ways to equalize for you. A lot of people have to try different methods until they find one that works for them. You'll be fine as long as you don't do anything hard, don't do anything fast, and back off if anything hurts or doesn't feel right.

    Best wishes,
  6. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Welcome and hope everything clears up for you. I had severe allergies up until about age 35+, then NOTHING.
    But, I know what you mean. I didn't start diving 'til age 51, but shortly after OW course I did my AOW. Was recovering from one of my nasty colds (that I'd get like only once yearly) in Florida. My instructor said to give it a try. Well, there was the one & only time I ever had that "air squeeking from the balloon" thing. No damage that time. Never again......
  7. EFX

    EFX ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: North Central Florida
    I'm glad you're being treated for it and I hope you heal so you get back to diving. One thing you should be aware of and I don't mean to scare you off, is that you could be at risk for reverse squeezes which could lead to another ear barotrauma. This happens when there is a blockage that prevents clearing on ascent. It happened to me a few years ago and like you I ended up seeing an ENT and along the way got an ear infection. So, ascend slowly especially in shallow depths where the pressure change is greatest. Be aware of how your ears and sinuses feel. If you feel a pressure increase stop and clear before ascending further. What makes reverse squeezes really bad is that if you can't clear, then at some point you must ascend and risk getting the barotrauma. In this scenario getting the barotrauma is better than running out of air and drowning.
  8. tlbashore

    tlbashore Garibaldi

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Maui
    Ascending was much easier and didn’t seem to cause much issue. But I can’t even imagine!! I am looking forward to getting back in the water! Am working with an allergist and ENT so I can get to the bottom of it all!!

    So much that can happen, but swimming with all that beauty is worth it!!

    Happy diving!
    living4experiences likes this.
  9. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
    Of course it is important to follow the advice of your ENT and to be sure that your Eustachian tubes are pervious, and your timpanic membranes are healthy before you try diving again.
    But, in my opinion, just half of your problem is related to your medical conditions, whilst the other half is caused by improper equalizing method.
    There are a number of such methods, and probably you was taught to use Valsalva (pinch your nose and use your lungs for creating pressure).
    This is simple to teach, but it is the worst method for a number of reasons.
    You "discovered" yourself the Toynbee (swallowing with nose closed).
    The most powerful technique is Frenzel, the method used by deep free divers, which does not involve using your lungs: the pressure is created inside your mouth, compressing the soft palate. Of course for this the mouth must be closed. If you have a mouthpiece (regulator) keeping it open, there is a variant of Frenzel, called Marcante-Odaglia, which can be done with the reg in your mouth.
    All these methods still require to pinch your nose.
    And finally, there is the top method, called BTV ( a French acronym), which means opening voluntarily your tubes getting control of specific muscles. No pinched nose with BTV...
    I use BTV since when very young, and this avoids entirely the need of equalizing both ears and mask, as you keep the air passages open all the time.
    Only drawback is that the noise of your reg will be perceived much louder; as it will propagate to your ears through the open tubes.
    Search on the Internet about these equalizing methods, and ask to your instructor about exercises for mastering them properly....
  10. GameChanger

    GameChanger ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Frisco, TX USA
    I suffered from a reverse squeeze a couple of years ago in Cozumel after diving for over 50 years with no real ear issues at all. It was not fun! I literally could not ascend without intense pain and the thought of blowing my eardrum out! Fortunately, I had plenty of gas and my dive buddy did as well. I was eventually able to ascend after doing what seemed like endless safety stops at different depth levels. If you do experience a reverse squeeze DO NOT TRY TO EQUALIZE PRESSURE LIKE YOU DO WHEN DESCENDING!!!!!! It will only make it WORSE and could lead to serious injury and/or permanent damage.

    I had to call the dives for the rest of my trip. This really upset me because my diving is 99.9% in the Caribbean and it takes planning and money to do it.

    When I got home (Dallas area), I contacted DAN Medical and they referred me to a dive specialist ENT Doc who actually used to practice at Duke University Medical Center where DAN is located. The ENT Doc did a very thorough exam (where I was told I also had severe hearing loss...) and he provided a course of treatment I should use BEFORE my dives. I am happy to report that it worked! I have not experienced any barotrauma incidents since then.

    I strongly encourage anyone with barotrauma issues to contact DAN and get a referral to one of their diver specialist ENT's. (I believe you need to be a DAN member).

    Good luck!
    living4experiences and Subcooled like this.

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