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Diving Ear Pain Treatment

Symptoms of diving ear pain (also known as barotrauma) include:

  • Ear pressure
  • Mild to severe ear pain
  • Nausea
  • Reduced hearing
  • Ringing ear
  • Vertigo
  • Vomiting

1. Stop the Descent

  • Help the person ascend until symptoms disappear. Do not go up faster than is safe.
  • If ear still hurts as the person goes up or if there are other symptoms, end the dive.

2. Treat Symptoms

  • For pain, give ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Avoid ibuprofen and other NSAIDs if the person has heart failure or kidney failure.

 

3. When to See a Health Care Provider

Seek immediate medical care if:

  • Pain, a feeling like there is water in the ears, or muffled hearing continues after the dive is over
  • There are symptoms of inner ear damage, such as deafness, ear ringing, or vertigo
  • The person has experienced ear pain when diving before

If possible, see an ear, nose, and throat specialist with experience in treating diving-related ear problems.

4. Follow Up

  • To avoid serious hearing loss or other problems, the person should not go on another dive until the pain goes away or the person sees a doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 17, 2013

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