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How to treat swimmer's ear

Discussion in 'New Divers & Those Considering Diving' started by Vuk Milicevic, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. GreggS

    GreggS Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Thomasville, NC
    If you happen to be like me, no ear beer I've ever tried works. I finally bought some of Doc's Scuba Diving ear plugs and have not had swimmer's ear since. I will not go into the water without them, whether it be ocean or fresh water (except for swimming pools since I won't be under water for extended periods.) To prevent from losing them, I will also wear either a hood or a thin dive cap, depending on the water temps I'll be diving in.
  2. dberry

    dberry Hydrophilic ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Philadelphia
    +1; I can't imagine 90% acetic acid being sold as "vinegar" anywhere; concentrations >25% are corrosive, can cause burns and damage tissue.
  3. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Personally I found using them with my thick hood was kinda difficult in that the hood may dislodge them. But I also found that the hood was just as good in keeping water from going far into the ears. So I use the hood even when not necessary in warm water. I did use just a swimmer's cap (pulled down over the ears) in the tropics once. When just using the pro plugs I would wrap the "string" once or twice around my mask strap to insure not losing them. On one pair I secured the plugs to the string better than how they were attached originally.
  4. gbf

    gbf ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    Don't know for sure. In the mid 90s we went to bon and I needed to mix some. Was warned by the lady at the pharmacy (botika?). I let it go and didn't buy anything.

    Worth a warning.
  5. GreggS

    GreggS Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Thomasville, NC
    I've so far not had a problem with them getting dislodged when wearing a hood. My cap is one of those that has a chin strap. Recently, I forgot to put the earplugs in on my first dive and even though I was wearing a hood, my left ear got somewhat sore the week following that.

    I don't think I'll fight what works for me.
  6. Scubagolf

    Scubagolf Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sacramento, California, USA
    Eight years ago an outer ear infection blew out the last 5 days of a week on Cozumel. My right outer ear canal was completely closed and painful. I took antibiotics and swung in the hammock while my wife dove the next 5 days.

    Since then it's ear beer in each ear for five mins after every dive. 1/3 each - isopropyl alcohol, white wine vinegar, and distilled water.
  7. Clark Fletcher

    Clark Fletcher Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Hickory, NC
    +1 for ear beer. I think it's a very good preventative if you use it religiously. But, as @gbf pointed out, you can't simply leave it in a few seconds and expect it to work.

    Ear beer is however only a preventative. Once you actually get an ear infection, it won't do any good and you should seek medical attention from and ENT professional immediately. Failure to do get timely treatment of an ear infection can rapidly result in permanent and total hearing loss. For me, I went to bed with no pain at all and woke up the next morning permanently deaf in one ear. It was the result of swelling in my inner ear that restricted blood flow. The lack of blood flow permanently damaged the auditory nerve.
  8. doctormike

    doctormike Medical Moderator Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New York City
    Obviously I don't know what happened in your particular case. I do feel obligated to point out that (with one unlikely exception) an outer ear infection ("swimmer's ear") does not extend to the inner ear, compromise blood flow to the cochlea, or cause a permanent and total loss of hearing. The exception is something called malignant otitis externa, which is a disease occasionally seen in elderly diabetics where infections spreads to the bone of the skull base and can affect the inner ear. Not a typical complication of swimmer's ear.

    Can you share more about your case?
    tridacna likes this.
  9. fmerkel

    fmerkel Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Salish Sea (Seattle)
    So....Vuc, how are the ears, and what did you actually end up doing?

    Clark Fletcher - please, as doctormike has asked....more info. For Otitis to go to hearing loss seems improbable. The processes are on opposite sides of the tympanic membrane.

    Ya, ya, I know all about not putting Q-tips in your ears. :shakehead: :facepalm:But.....then why were they invented? :rolleyes:
    Yes, you CAN do damage. o_O I have not and I've been doing it for decades. Somehow I suspect a lot of other people do also. :shocked: I do not ream/gouge/scrape/etc. I'm very very gentle, pay attention, and don't run or chew gum while I'm doing it. :)

    My recommendations are purely 'practical', if somewhat simple and geared toward someone that is asking on SB instead of seeking professional help. We get a LOT of those here. Most of the people, myself included, that have gotten OE on a dive trip just stop diving until it goes away, usually 2-4 days. If you don't....your ear will tell you that you were premature. After the trip if you have any sense you learn about prevention.
    Minor whine, or rant.....
    [Jeez, why is it that we are supposed to go to the Dr. for every damn thing?] :coffee:
    Yes, I know, some conditions are considerably more problematic than others and far more deserving of immediate and appropriate intervention. The average guy may not know the difference. I don't think OE is in this category unless it continues to get worse instead of clearing up. Then, the pain will likely drive you to a physician.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
  10. doctormike

    doctormike Medical Moderator Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New York City
    Yup, and not just on opposite sides of the TM, but separated by the bony otic capsule.

    More anatomy here...

    Hey, knitting needles were invented... I don't recommend putting those in your ears either..! :rofl3:

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