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I think I messed up while trying to Equalize my Sinuses.... Water in ear.

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by GreyVR, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. GreyVR

    GreyVR Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Atlanta
    So I did something that, looking back, may have been really silly. I'm a little embarrassed to admit my mistake, but I do want to tap the collective wisdom of the board, so here goes.

    I was diving last week in Cozumel, and loving every minute of it. Went from about 18-19 dives to 30, so I'm still a novice.

    I was having problems equalizing my sinuses. My left ear popped easy like it was made to, my right ear was a little stiffer but felt find, and the sinuses around my right eye felt like Freddy Kruger wanted to dig the whole eye out.

    I ascended to a shallower depth, signaled the leader that my ears weren't clearing, (even though it was my sinuses because I don't really know how to be that specific in hand signals... Figured that was close enough.)

    I kept at it, ascend, try, etc, wasn't working, and I found the more I tried, the more my left ear crinkled. Not wanting to injury my left ear, I stuck a finger in it to stop it moving so I could 'focus' the push on my other side. I think this is how I messed up. (It really seemed like a good idea at the time!)

    I suspect I pushed the water in my left ear DEEP into my left ear. Felt (after the dive) like someone had jammed a AA battery into my ear, and it was sitting kind of between the ear and my jaw. First night I had significant pain in my ear, and an ache on that side of my jaw which is somewhat increased by biting or chewing. My wife is a doctor, (though not an ENT specialist) and with a flashlight (but not a scope) she took a look and said everything looks okay as far as the middle ear.

    I described my symptoms to the other divers, and they said "Water in the ear, very common, use ear beer." I'm putting the recommended mixture of isopropyl alcohol and distilled white vinegar into my ear, and it seems to be helping.

    So my questions are, is it likely that course of action caused this? Are there better sinus clearing techniques? I know many divers use decongestants, and I may well join them, as my sinuses are way more trouble than my ears.

    Am I as silly as I feel for equalizing with a finger in one ear? :oops::oops::oops:
  2. DiverDownD3

    DiverDownD3 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: SOBX, NC
    I'm not a doctor, but I'll bet you are experiencing some kind of barotrauma. My first few dives I found that I was clearing way too hard and I experienced something similar to what you are describing. I think it would be best for you to go to ENT specialist
  3. fmerkel

    fmerkel Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Salish Sea (Seattle)
    You were screwed before you put your finger in your ear.
    It wasn't a good idea, but it was not your main problem. You did it because you weren't clearing. Desperate measure, and counterproductive.

    Sounds like you have problem sinuses and likely problem ear(s) also. Too much diving, biological/anatomical problems, possibly coupled with inadequate technique, pushed them both to the point of barotrauma. You have sinus damage, AND you likely have middle ear damage. You may also have water in your ear, but more likely you have blood in the painful middle ear. Ear beer will only help with water in the outer ear canal, which should work almost immediately if there is with an immediate improvement in hearing as it helps remove the water. You....could...also have a wax plug in there, which the ear beer will not help with at all. A proper visualization with an otoscope should determine if water or wax plug is an issue. With someone that knows what they are looking for you can also possibly get an idea if the status of the middle ear by looking at the ear drum.

    Note - ear beer is also a preventative/treatment for outer ear infection, another painful and annoying diver issue, but right now, I think not your problem. Do some research on that too. You'll be glad you did if you intend to keep diving.
    Added link from a SB member: Preventing Swimmer's Ear

    For now you just have to heal and hope none of the damage is permanent. Your wife can help watch for middle ear of sinus infection from the damage. Both are possible. Personally I'd immediately start a course of Afrin, Sudafed, and saline nasal rinses, which will help open up and drain the tissues, + NSAIDS for pain if needed. It can take a couple weeks to a couple months for complete resolution.

    For your next diving adventure, you need to do some serious research on dealing with those sinuses and possibly ears before you dive again. DIVING ALERT NETWORK and this forum has LOTS of information about this subject. It is VERY common, probably the most common dive injury. I know, I have rotten sinuses and got reverse block on my first dive trip, along with crunchy ears and some bloody noses. Not fun. But you can treat it and learn to deal with it. These are just a start.
    Ears & Diving - DAN Health & Diving
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
    Blindsided likes this.
  4. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Yes that. I haven't had such a problem but am prone to water deep in the ear. Usually my hood (or "Doc's Pro Plugs--ones with pin holes in them made for diving that allow equalising) keep water from going in deep. Sometimes with the hood I will descend a bit and the water entering the hood will rush in the ear. So I ascend and empty it out by pulling the side of the hood out and jostling my head. Then I'm usually OK.
    After the dive I first use a Q Tip (I know, most say this is disastrous, but I've done it my whole life with no problems since I'm careful not to dig half way to my brain--after each daily shower-- and am 63). Then I put in some ear drops.
    Don't know if any of that will help your situation now, but as advised, see an ENT.
  5. ls1dreams

    ls1dreams Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: DC
    I had some ear issues like that after my open water dive courses when I had some trouble equalizing. ENT just gave me both an oral decongestant and a nasal one. Cleared within 2 days after using those.

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