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Challenging the dairy / mucus link...?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Mar 31, 2023
Hi all!

I suffer from a regularly occuring difficulty in equalising my right ear. The way it tends to show up is that after a few duck dives (sometimes including just small ones in the local pool) I suddenly find that my right ear will feel completely 'blocked' when I try to equalise (while left ear equalises fine), and it takes a few minutes (3 or 4) staying upright on the surface before it starts to clear up. Equalising then often feels 'squidgy' & 'bubbly' in the eustachian tube for a few more minutes after that, a bit like trying to blow through a mostly blocked nostril, but improving over time.

I don't find that it's a particularly big issue for me because it tends to happen only once or twice during an hour or so of diving (or pool swimming, practicing some duck dives), and I know the drill well enough to just wait a few mins until it clears before trying again.

I also suffer from something that sounds rather like a post-nasal drip - a near constant feeling that there is 'stuff' stuck in the back of the throat - and have to regularly swallow to try to get rid of it (often unsuccessfully even after multiple attempts).

My working hypothesis is that the above two things are linked - i.e. some of the mucus that ends up getting stuck in my throat can make its way instead into the eustachian tube of my right ear (never left ear, so presumably some difference in structure somewhere in there), assisted by gravity when upside-down during (duck-)dives.

I've regularly heard freedivers say that cutting out dairy will reduce mucus, and therefore helps to reduce any such problems with equalisation. (And the whole milk --> mucus idea has been around for centuries, of course.)

Consequently, over the past year I've been running some experiments to see if avoiding dairy makes any difference for myself.

I started around this time last year, and had practically zero dairy for about four months (only rarely a splash of milk in tea the odd time away visiting someone when there's nothing else available). I then went back to full-on dairy for another four months. Since then I've repeated the zero dairy up until now (i.e. another four months).

Given how common this non-dairy thing is mentioned by freedivers, I was really hoping this would make a noticeable difference. However the bottom line is that I've not noticed any change at all... :(

Looking through some actual research related to this does suggest that it could be mostly a myth (apart from certain individuals who do actually have some degree of real allergy). For example...

Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthma

Relationship between Milk Intake and Mucus Production in Adult Volunteers Challenged with Rhinovirus-2

The milk mucus belief: sensations associated with the belief and characteristics of believers

The milk-mucus belief: sensory analysis comparing cow's milk and a soy placebo

Does milk increase mucus production?

Wondering if anyone here has any personal experience about any of this, and would like to comment...?
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