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Ear Pain, Scuba Diving

Prevention

Prevention is the preferred treatment for ear pain involved with scuba diving.

  • Divers who are unable to clear their ears or experience pain should stop their descent and abort the dive.
    • Divers clear their ears by several methods. The most common is the valsalva maneuver. This involves plugging the nose, closing the mouth, and blowing. The procedure increases the pressure in the mouth and throat, pushing air into the eustachian tube to open it up.
  • Divers should equalize their ears frequently when descending.
  • Diving should not be attempted if any sinus or upper respiratory symptoms are present.

Outlook

Most ear pain with scuba diving will go away by itself -- usually within a week -- without long-term effects. Eardrum ruptures usually heal themselves over longer periods of time but sometimes require surgical repair. Facial paralysis, if present, most often is temporary. Mild hearing loss may continue.

Synonyms and Keywords

ear pain, scuba diving, middle ear barotrauma, MEBT, barotitis media, ear squeeze, scuba diving ear pain

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WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 05, 2014

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