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Ear infections a constant problem

Discussion in 'Diving Medicine Q&A' started by janer, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. janer

    janer New

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Melbourne Australia
    Hello fellow divers,

    I need some advise please. Nearly every time I go diving I have ear problems that turn into infection within a couple of days. I have been told by the doctor that I have narrow ear canals and that water stays in my ears after diving and causes infection.

    I really want to keep diving but the infections are quite debilitating and last for a week or so every time and only go with the use of antibiotics.

    I am wondering if I should use swimmers ear before I dive and straight after in the hope it will dry up the moisture. Does anyone know if this works or does anyone know another way I can sort out my ear problem?

    I hope someone can give me some good advise on this problem as I do not want to give up this awesome activity but fear I will have to if this problem continues.


  2. TracyN

    TracyN Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ocala, Florida
    I have this issue as well. I had an external ear infection off and on for a month before it finally went away. Believe it or not some homeopathic ear drops that I bought at Walgreen's cured the infection. Using the swimmer's ear drops after diving has helped a great deal. Now I just get a full feeling in my ears that lasts for a couple days.
  3. janer

    janer New

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Melbourne Australia
    Thanks Tracy. I have just read a couple of old threads about ear infections and feel heartened that there are solutions and to see that many people have had the same problem as me and sorted it out. In future I will ensure I use swimmers ear drops after diving and I may look into getting Doc's Pro Plugs. Have you ever used them yourself?
  4. TracyN

    TracyN Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ocala, Florida
    No I've never tried the ear plugs. I haven't heard much about them.
  5. Blue Sparkle

    Blue Sparkle Captain

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Chesapeake Bay
    I use a home-made solution after every dive. I read the "recipe" for it in a medical book for long-distance sailors (who are away from doctors).

    Although I can't say what would have happened had I not used it, I can say that even being in the water every day in the hot, muggy tropics for months on end (where "things" like to grow), I never had an infection. I still use it after every dive.

    The solution is 50% white vinegar and 50% rubbing alcohol, mixed together. You lie on your side after diving (I shower first if I'm showering right after diving), fill up your ear, and let it sit in there for a full five minutes, then do the other side for another five minutes (you can just let the solution run out onto a paper towel or something afterward). I use a dropper bottle to put it in (not that you place it way in your ear, as gravity will do that; but just to have a narrow flow that won't spill all over my head).

    Some people call this "ear beer." (I may not remember this correctly, but I think the vinegar makes an acidic environment bugs don't like; and the alcohol dries the canal.)

    There are also commercial ear dryers (I think one is called something like Sahara ear), but I have not tried them. I have heard good things about them from a surfer who had a bout of chronic infections. I have never had an infection after using the "ear beer" religiously, so I haven't had to move beyond that.

    Blue Sparkle

    PS: I doubt there would be any benefit to using the solution before diving.
    DandyDon likes this.
  6. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Contributor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Florida
    If you do 40 White Vinegar, 40 Alcohol, 20% Glycerin (from a health food store), the vinegar is the same ph as your body, killing off bad bacteria, letting good bacteria live, while the alcohol removes moisture and the glycerine keeps your ear canal from getting too dry and peeling from the alcohol. Works for me when I use it.

    I spent 10 days in a row underwater this month and never used ear beer at all. 4 Days later I had ear infections in both ears and the ear beer would not clear it up. Upon a co-workers recommendation I went to Walmart and got Hyland's Eardrops. They cost about 5 bucks and are all natural. Within 6 hours my earaches in both ears were gone.
  7. doctormike

    doctormike Contributor Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New York City
    In addition to a thorough microscopic ear cleaning (hard to find at most tropical dive locations!) and the solutions mentioned above, this gadget really helps prevent the problem. I always travel with one...


    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  8. Pedro Burrito

    Pedro Burrito Moderator Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Boussens, Canton de Vaud, Suisse
  9. garyd54220

    garyd54220 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Manitowoc, WI
    Ear beer of 50/50 vinegar and alcohol and pro plugs. The Navy studies on eardrops showed that the key to efficacy is leaving the drops in the ear for 5 minutes, not simply squirting them in and dumping them out. I was very skeptical of pro plugs until I used them while diving multiple days in caves and mines where I always ended up with infections. with the plugs...no problem. Since then I use them whenever I'm diving day after day or in conditions I know have caused problems in the past. Have used them below 200' with no problems so depth -within reason- does not seem to be an issue.

  10. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas Central Plains
    Never mind. Opinions vary too much for me to keep comparisons straight.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

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