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Ear Injury during Certification Dive

Thruggs

New Member
Jul 7, 2020
1
0
1
26
TN
Hello! This is my first post.
So, 10 days ago I was doing my scuba certification dives. I knew that I had trouble equalizing from previous training dives, so I went very slow on the descent and had an instructor with me the entire time. Every couple of feet I used the Valsalva technique and it was working! However, I think I was overcompensating and tried to force equalization once or twice since I was terrified of my ears not equalizing. I heard a shrill squeal in my left ear and got slightly dizzy for a few seconds (I assumed the dizziness was from so much constant equalizing using Valsalva).
I spent maybe 15 minutes underwater with no other problems.

As soon as I surfaced I had a strong ring and very muffled sound in my left ear. I was headstrong and assumed it would go away and did two more dives. I had no issue at all equalizing during these dives. In fact, I think I didn’t have to equalize nearly as much, it seemed much easier and smoother.

I went to an ENT and confirmed my hearing loss at 7000 hz - 8000 hz. Also, the ear pressure test came back with a negative value (fluid in ear?). I was CT scanned and am waiting on the results. I know my ear drum was red and had some swelling, but there was no tear noted. I am due back in one month to redo the hearing test, but I’m confident that I will be able to hear the 8000hz range no problem since I know some hearing has returned. It’s the higher frequencies that I’m worried about.

I know from testing my ear with YouTube frequency tests that I’ve regained at least 2000hz in hearing. The ring in my ear has diminished quite a bit, but it’s still there and usually acts up when I get out of the shower or drive somewhere. Also, I’ve noticed that some sounds can cause some distortion in my ear, this is most prevalent around running water, the crashing water sounds like a broken stereo playing a staticy-distortion sound. One more symptom, I was playing a gig and jumping around a few days ago and, after jumping around, I had to step outside because I started feeling off. When I stood up and started walking back in I became dizzy and had to sit back down. I was like this for about 45 minutes. My vision was affected by the dizziness.

I have been resting the last couple of days and have noticed some improvement, but the symptoms remain. I’m scared that these symptoms (tinnitus, hearing loss, and dizziness after exercise) will be permanent. I’m worried that I damaged my inner ear and that it’s not repairable, but maybe there’s a small tear on my ear drum that was overlooked because of the swelling (I don’t know if this is even possible)? I think my ear drum is still tender because if I put a finger on my ear, cover the hole, apply pressure, and then pull my finger off my ear, the suction created cause a very tenderish pain feeling. This gives me hope that my ear is still healing.

Any advice on what the next step should be?
Should I go to an audiologist and get a more complete frequency test (not just up to 8000hz)?
 

DivingNomad

Member
Sep 21, 2015
60
21
23
USA
Hello! This is my first post.
So, 10 days ago I was doing my scuba certification dives. I knew that I had trouble equalizing from previous training dives, so I went very slow on the descent and had an instructor with me the entire time. Every couple of feet I used the Valsalva technique and it was working! However, I think I was overcompensating and tried to force equalization once or twice since I was terrified of my ears not equalizing. I heard a shrill squeal in my left ear and got slightly dizzy for a few seconds (I assumed the dizziness was from so much constant equalizing using Valsalva).
I spent maybe 15 minutes underwater with no other problems.

As soon as I surfaced I had a strong ring and very muffled sound in my left ear. I was headstrong and assumed it would go away and did two more dives. I had no issue at all equalizing during these dives. In fact, I think I didn’t have to equalize nearly as much, it seemed much easier and smoother.

I went to an ENT and confirmed my hearing loss at 7000 hz - 8000 hz. Also, the ear pressure test came back with a negative value (fluid in ear?). I was CT scanned and am waiting on the results. I know my ear drum was red and had some swelling, but there was no tear noted. I am due back in one month to redo the hearing test, but I’m confident that I will be able to hear the 8000hz range no problem since I know some hearing has returned. It’s the higher frequencies that I’m worried about.

I know from testing my ear with YouTube frequency tests that I’ve regained at least 2000hz in hearing. The ring in my ear has diminished quite a bit, but it’s still there and usually acts up when I get out of the shower or drive somewhere. Also, I’ve noticed that some sounds can cause some distortion in my ear, this is most prevalent around running water, the crashing water sounds like a broken stereo playing a staticy-distortion sound. One more symptom, I was playing a gig and jumping around a few days ago and, after jumping around, I had to step outside because I started feeling off. When I stood up and started walking back in I became dizzy and had to sit back down. I was like this for about 45 minutes. My vision was affected by the dizziness.

I have been resting the last couple of days and have noticed some improvement, but the symptoms remain. I’m scared that these symptoms (tinnitus, hearing loss, and dizziness after exercise) will be permanent. I’m worried that I damaged my inner ear and that it’s not repairable, but maybe there’s a small tear on my ear drum that was overlooked because of the swelling (I don’t know if this is even possible)? I think my ear drum is still tender because if I put a finger on my ear, cover the hole, apply pressure, and then pull my finger off my ear, the suction created cause a very tenderish pain feeling. This gives me hope that my ear is still healing.

Any advice on what the next step should be?
Should I go to an audiologist and get a more complete frequency test (not just up to 8000hz)?

Too much worrying here, just go to your Doc and follow up with him. Internet isn't the safe place to seek medical advice. You should also contact DAN to get a referral for DAN approved ENT to do more complete checking.
 
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