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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Mermaid, Musician and Marketer
Nov 12, 2002
I have a new and bizarre problem maybe someone can help with. My eardrums have become incredibly fragile. This is partly due to an op my parents inflicted on me 20 years ago where a small hole was drilled through each drum and a tube inserted for a year so I could hear the teachers at school.....
20 years on and an ear doc can still see the scars. Several years of scuba diving have made the drums even weaker and now at least one of them seems to break almost every time I dive. Sometimes its only a tiny perforation and is ok again within a couple of hours. The week before Cyprus I blew one out entirely and my whole head flooded (or felt like it did) resulting in dramatic vertigo and a corkscrew style of diving that made my 30m take more like 90....
I gave it a few days off before my comp dive (not diving - not an option!) and managed to get to 35 without it breaking again but I have to be so bloody careful.. my duck dive HAS to be rubbish, I have to equalise on the surface before I drop down and if I kick even slightly hard I've had it... now I can't hear much out of that ear....
Everyone asks how I can put up with the pain to actually break them, the bummer is that they don't hurt they just crack open before I even feel like I need to equalise

sam x
Wow! is my first reaction and I do not have an answer for you but a couple of questions. You relate "sometimes it is only a minor perforation and is ok within a few hours" - but a perforation can't heal in a few hours, what do you mean "it's ok"? Is the "progressively weaker" state of the drums simply scar tissue forming, which does not have the same strengh as regular membrane? Also, beginning equalization on the surface is something many of us do, but for you I can see a danger of blowing out the fragile drums before even starting down, has this ever happened?
Best of luck,
when I say the ear is ok - I mean that I can equalise again without air leaking out. With a small perforation this can be a day or two after. With a bigger explosion, the kind of thing someone could hear if they listened close to my ear while I equalised this can take a few weeks.

To help them heal quicker I keep them totally dry in between dives - wear earplugs in the shower and if there is no comp with anti doping test coming up - a bit of decongestant speeds things up too. Nothing much hurts, is just my hearing and the possibility of getting an infection that is scary, not to mention diving with major vertigo

By the way I am wearing Docs Pro Plugs for scuba and freediving now and despite the french saying "What is this shit!" in the way they normally do, I think they help

anyone got any better advice! except dont dive....

Some ideas:

1. Proear mask (keeps air on the ears)
2a. Dive with fluid goggles and a nose clip -- this allows CONSTANT pressure on the ears by one continuous 'blow' or 'push' with the lungs/tongue
2b. Dive with a nose clip and those weird (air) goggles with a tube going from mouth to goggle, also allowing constant equalizing pressure
3. Fill the sinuses & inner ear with sterile saline (kind of like Pipin does), since this eliminates the need to equalize at all...

Note that options 2a, 2b, and 3 are banned for AIDA competitions.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
WOW Sam,

That really bites!:(

I have had two friends who blew their ear drums out on scuba dives to 200'. They both had the same vertigo problem on ascent. They both stayed out of the water for no more than two weeks tops. Since they started diving again they haven't had any problems. I am not sure if they go slower or pop Sudafed, but they haven't had any more problems.

I never had tubes in my ears, always though that listening to teachers was overrated;) , but I did have many ear infections when I first started divemastering/ instructing. Then, Viking drysuits hit the market around these parts and I had my first chance to use a suit with a dry hood. That one thing seemed to solve all of my problems. I can't use one for freediving and now make sure I clean my ears out carefully everytime I get out of the water.

The point of all this is that maybe the mask that Eric mentioned might work for you.

There is also something called a "SCUBA QUEEN" wetsuit hood that has ear-cups built into it. It is meant to be attached to the first stage of your regulator and could be used in warm water scuba diving. It is sold by GOBAL manufacturing in Milwaukee, WI.

What do the diving doc's say about your conditon????:confused:

Thanks Eric - those are some cool ideas. I will get Crispin to convert my seal mask with a mouth tube and try training like that... that way I can swap to the mask for the comp and if it blows on the day.. well that's not such a problem as it going the week before.

I tried a Pro Ear mask and it was rubbish - leaked and broke all th time until I took it back to the shop. Plus it is huge so not much good for freediving. I think you would have to shave all around your ears for it to seal properly.. and well shaved heads for female freedivers haven't quite caught on yet.

I have -6 vision and wear contacts to dive in - do you know of anyone else who wears contacts and fluid goggles? does it work?

maybe I'll just wear a nose clip and dive blind... might as well in the lake we train in most of the time.

thanks for the wise advice

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