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Sinus infections after diving?

Discussion in 'Diving Medicine' started by ScubaDawg2, Jul 1, 2002.

  1. ScubaDawg2

    ScubaDawg2 Angel Fish

    I have been diving for about 1 year and seem to always end up with some type of sinus infection a few days after diving. May or may not be coincidental to the diving. It has not happened every single time, just a enough times to make me wonder what is going on.

    My most recent visit to my doctor got an unusual response to the issue. The doctor said that studies have shown that 90+% of these sinus infections are related to viruses and not bateria and that anti-biotics had no effect. Which of course made sense......

    What does not make sense, is that I continue to get sinus infections a couple days after diving.

    I wanted to throw the question out for discussion and see what others thought.

    My dive profiles have to-date been in fresh water with max depth of 100fsw.

    Thanks in advance for your advice and insight.

  2. kelpmermaid

    kelpmermaid Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: So CA
    but does your diving involve flying somewhere and back? There are a lot of germs and viruses in the friendly skies...
  3. FredT

    FredT Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: The remains of the MS Gulf coast
    Time to see an ENT specialist, preferably one who dives and is up on diving medicine.

    What you have described can easily be explained by your having a partially blocked sinus that is not draining correctly. If you dive with a low grade infection in that sinus you can end up distributing it well throughout your sinus cavity after the first dive, and then driving it into the individual cavities during the second dive. I have one sinus that behaves that way, and can result in some nasty middle ear infections if I don't take measures to deal with it before diving after a month long break in diving actvity.

    I'm sure there are other possible explainations, but the link to your diving activity is a good hint. Your GP or IM doctor will not be looking for the lnk unless he is both well trained in diving medicine and sees several divers in his practice. It's not something the normal inland Dr will be looking for.

  4. ScubaDawg2

    ScubaDawg2 Angel Fish

    Thanks FredT!

    Thats was my planned next step.

  5. BillP

    BillP Senior Member

    Howdy Frank:

    I see Fred has already been here and sent you down the right road.

    It would be a remarkable coincidence if someone developed a viral sinus infection routinely after diving. I would be expected that someone who perhaps has trouble clearing one or more sinuses would have symptoms of a barotrauma injury routinely after diving. The symptoms of a barotrauma injury can be very similar to an infection. Also, the barotrauma injury with the resultant blood and debris in the sinus might predispose someone to a bacterial sinus infection.

    If a diver suffers a mild sinus problem once after a dive, they can often leave it alone and see if it goes away. But if a diver regularly has sinus problems with diving- and they want to continue to dive- then they need an evaluation by a doctor as Fred suggested. I see that you plan to see an ENT- be sure and report back what you find out.


  6. ScubaDawg2

    ScubaDawg2 Angel Fish

    Went to see the ENT today.

    Doctor said that my sinuses looked ok. He went on to say that I did not seem to be having sinus infections, it was more likely upper respitory infection if anything. There has not really been any pain in my sinus area when I was having these problems after diving.

    The doctor also said that I dont really have any signs of allergies either.

    Here are his suggestions for somelike like myself with sinus drainage issues after diving:

    1. Take vitamin C on a regular basis (2x500mg). Double the intake when exeriencing drainage problems.

    2. Take Sudafed as needed for congestion.

    3. Take GUAIFENESIN (prescription) to thin out drainage. Can also get prescription for GUAIFENEX which also has decongestant like Sudafed.

    4. Drink LOTS AND LOTS of water. :)

    The last thing the doctor mentioned is to come back in for visit when I experience this problem again and they would take a "SAMPLE" to test for bacteria or viral infection.

    Well, at least it looks like nothing serious at this point with my sinus area at this time.

  7. jbd

    jbd Dive Shop

    Could it be the bodies reaction to exposure to bacteria in the water? Possibly these bacteria are not pathogenic but the human body recognizes them as foreign and reacts to them.
  8. laurel0000

    laurel0000 Guest

    I too have had sinus infections after diving. They were bacterial and were responsive to a course of antibiotics. I believe they began secondary to a "viral" upper respiratory track infection which swelled my sinuses and clogged them with mucous which in turn caused a "bacterial" infection. My theory is that if the membranes are swollen and the passages clogged, increased pressure during diving drives bacteria into upper sinuses and deeper into membrane tissues. Some people are more suseptible to sinus infections and those people probably have a history of these infections prior to diving. However, my first infection came after a dive which I performed while suffering from the flu.
  9. aynrand

    aynrand Angel Fish

    I am so glad to read your comments because I was beginning to think that I am the only person with this problem. And getting a bit scared.

    My ENT does not know what to make of it. I am a 28 year old causasian woman living in Trinidad. He is suggesting surgery. But I feel like I dont know enough about what is happening to me.

    I suffer from bad allergies.

    In May 2002. The first time I had this symptom (blood coming down with mucus). I went diving for 20 mins to 30feet. I got out of the water my head feeling weird and within days the bleeding started. It lasted for almost a month. I took Avelox antibiotics. Then the bleeding receeded and eventually stopped.

    This brings us to present day. May 2006. I have been fine all along (no diving) until ....On a flight from Orlando to Trinidad had terrible pain on the last 1/2 hour (descent) flights Orlando - Miami and Miami - Trinidad. Back 4 days and bleeding started. Have been bleeding for about 12 days and it has receeded a lot. Almost completely stopped. Am on last day of avalox.

    I explained all this history to my ENT and he did not link it to the diving and flying. He did not even mention the word "Barotrauma".

    Some things I have read are putting me off of the surgery. I got back the report from the C.T. It said "Right concha bullosa". From looking up "Right concha bullosa" on the internet... it lead me to something called "Barotrauma" which is what I think I experienced.

    Here is the C.T. report:

    There is marked deviation of the nasal septum convex to the left. No other bony abnormality is seen. Minimal mucosal thickening identifed on the medial and posterior walls of the right maxillary sinus. The walls of the left maxillary sinus are clear. No fluid levels identified. The frontal sinuses are clear. The ethmoid air cells are clear. Marked opacity/opacification of the right side of the sphenoid sinus. Probable large sphenoid sinus polyp. No other focal abnormality is seen. Coronal views through the ostiomeatal complexes shows evidence of mucosal thickening involving the left maxillary sinus infundibulum causing minimal narrowing at this point. A right sided maxillary infundibulum is patent. Distortion of the right side uncinate process and right maxillary infundibulum by the presence of a moderate size right concha bullosa noted. This measure 1.7cm Cranio Caudal x 1cm Transverse x 1.1cm AP. Please Note this is a right-sided concha bullosa. No other focal abnormality identified.

    any help or pointing in the right direction would help. I don't want to think that I can never dive or fly again. I could live without the diving but the flying?...

    Have you ever heard of anyone having this problem?

    Is the surgery necessary?

  10. Salt

    Salt Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New England
    So glad to have run across this thread.

    Just got back from a dive trip to Mexico with a sinus infection and swollen tonsils. Trying to figure out what happened and this was helpful.

    In retrospect, I'm pretty sure I weakened my immune system getting down there. Had a bad connection/layover and had to spend the night at an airport. I'm sure the lack of quality sleep was a factor. Had a single beer several nights. Two days my stomach wasn't feeling good and I suspect some bad food somewhere. (Yogurt seems to have fixed that). That's all I can think of.

    No major problems equalizing on 4 days of diving. But definitely came home sick.

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