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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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neoprene dreamer
Aug 22, 2001
I have found that during my stay here in UK I am rarely able to dive below 10 meters not only because I can not find a spot to dive any deeper close by, but because of blocked sinuses. As I dive to say 6 meters I feel pain in my forehead, that is when I know the whole diving session is ruined.. I have tried to equalize bit harder and sometimes I manage to get the air into the sinus cavities behind by eyes and my forehead.
I would like to know how can I make sure this doesn’t happen next time I go diving.. it makes the whole process not worth doing as I can not explore the sea bed that lies under me just 10 meters away…. Any ideas… ?

Thanks and safe diving to you all!

I have the same problem sometimes and this is one of the most frustrating things to get.

I have tried a yoga thing that I have used to rinse the nose with saltwater but that did'nt help me. I have also tried a spray called "Mucoril" and it's better I think because I can get it to my upper sinuses.
Nothing of what I have tried made big difference.

Cold water diving increase the risk for sinus squeeze is my experience...
I have always had a chronic problem with sinus congestion. My doctor tells me it is because the sinus openings are small and do not drain properly. He (the doctor) also has a similar problem and suggested that instead of surgury to "open the passages", simply encourage them to drain by using an expectorant. The most common here in the the US is Robitussin, sometimes simply called Tussin. The actual name is Guaifenisen syrup. The good new is it's fairly cheap and there seem to be no contraindications for this stuff and diving. It tastes like sh-t, but it works. I do not travel on business, or dive, without it anymore. good luck
my girlfriend had similar problems. what did help her was cutting down on milk and cheese and adding some more vitamin a.
milk/cheese-products increase mucus production, on vitamin a we heard different things, but then again it didn't hurt.
in case you smoke: it also increases mucus production, so don't. at least a few hours before diving.

about sinus congestions: i recently heard the theory from a doctor, that when pulling the snot up and swallowing it :yack , instead of sneezing it out you actually get rid of the congestion sooner because when sneezing it out you actually blow some of it back into the sinuses.

hope that works for you also


A friend of mine recently ruptured her eardrum on a flight from Germany to here (Spain)! Her sinuses were clogged up due to a cold and she couldn't equalize. I never thought this could happen on a flight, but it goes to show you that you don't need much pressure differential to do some damage when everything is clogged up.

Zyrtec allergy medicine works really well for me. Take it in the evening and you will sleep well and have really clear sinuses in the morning.
I hear you Pekka- I'm currently having ear & sinus problems too. It might prevent me from a dive trip that I've been looking forward to for a couple of months. I'm currently taking Guaifenisen and Sudafed Sinus. It makes things livable above water, but not beneath it. :(

A sad problem- best of luck finding a solution:)
Many thanks to you all

Uh, well I think I try all of those before I get to a place where I can dive propely.. Because most of my trips to the sea here have been well bit disapointing to say the least no depth what so ever and, well there have been something to see but not much and I am kinda planning on going to...well I can not remember where that was but I have been there before I just didn't have my gear with and when I take my gear with I don't want my diving to be ruined just because of sinus problem!..:waterwork so I'll try all of those tricks thanks fellas and safe diving to you all!
One word for you: Nasonex.

Its a perscription med here in Canada -- I've got it because I have a cronic reverse block that tends to come on after ~1/2 hour of freediving (hurts like a bugger too, the worst part being that it starts without warning @ depth and hurts more as I ascend!). When using Nasonex I can usually dive continuously for 2-3 hours without incident. Does wonders to alleviate congestion from a mild cold as well.
Uncomfortable but effective

Hi all,
This may sound really strange but freedivers are known to do weird stuff already. So here goes: gag reflex helps clear out the sinuses. Try in the morning with empty stomach, allow about 10 contractions. This causes reflex dilation of all passages and forces production of water-like secretion that flushes the sinuses.
The trick has helped many divers with "hopeless" sinus block cases.
I suppose freediving doesn't mean free from disgusting pre-dive rituals...

Good luck
  • Like
Reactions: Pekka
I've also had problems with sinus blocks on and off over the past year and a half or so that I've been freediving. A few observations:

-- If you get this frequently, it could help to see an ear-nose-throat doctor who understands dive medicine. Sometimes surgery might help your situation, but in other cases it might not. Alternately, you might have polyps in your sinuses that could stand to be shrunk. Only a doctor could say on the basis of an examination (and possibly some kind of imaging).

-- Probably the single most beneficial treatment that I hear doctors recommend is regularly running saltwater through your sinuses. About 2 teaspoons salt per liter (which is about 4 cups or 1 quart) is about normal; you can add a pinch of baking soda if salt alone is irritating. One doctor I know recommends getting the saltwater up there with a WaterPik device to stimulate the nasal cilia. A lot of people like to use a neti pot (the appliance favored by yogis).

-- Some of my friends are helped by steroid nasal sprays (Flonase, etc). I can't use them, however, as they thin my sinus membranes too much and cause bleeding.

-- Since many blocks result from swollen sinus tissue, anti-inflammatories can help. One doctor I know recommends a combination of papaya and pineapple enzymes in pill form as an over-the-counter natural anti-inflammatory. Others use aspirin the day of diving, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Advil).

-- Some divers are helped by using a decongestant nasal spray such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) the day of diving. However, this cannot be used for more than three days, can result in habituation from regular use, and can cause a nasty rebound effect. I use it extremely sparingly only on critical dive days.

-- My dive ear-nose-throat doctor gave me a prescription for a relatively new antihistamine nasal spray called Asteril. It's very expensive when bought out-of-pocket, but I got my HMO to cover it. I'm still making up my mind on whether it's helping.

-- Most freedivers I know avoid pill-based decongestants (pseudoephedrine or Sudafed, etc). These increase heart rate and do horrors to your bottom time.

-- On the other hand, many divers take a pill-based antihistamine such as Allegra or Claritin.

-- Some people say they get benefit from an expectorant like guaifenesin (the ingredient in Robitussin, although you can get it in stronger and easier-to-take form as the pill-based Humibid L.A. (needs a prescription)). I couldn't detect any benefit from using this, and several doctors I've talked to are skeptical.

-- My dive ear-nose-throat doctor recommends avoiding irritants (such as boat engine fumes) as well as cold drinks or food the day of diving (I drink warm tea and room-temperature bottled water). Irritants and cold can immobilize the nasal cilia.

-- As someone else noted, some people find that reducing or eliminating milk-based products from their diets curbs creation of mucus. Seems to be one of those your-mileage-may-vary things.

-- Finally, if you do get a sinus block while diving, don't think that you can "power on through it." Last year I got a pain in my eyebrow (frontal sinus) and thought I could get through it, but ended up with blood in my mask. Best thing is to ease off, get out of the water and blow your nose, maybe use a decongestant spray, and try a little later. Or call it for the day if it doesn't improve.

Hope this might give you some ideas to explore with your doctor.
My sympathy to anyone with sinus problems. They almost stopped me from diving. The smog in the L.A. basin was messing up my head after 20 years. The vog (volcano) here can be as bad, depending on the wind direction and every flu bug from around the world comes to visit this island.
Last year I had two blow outs where I tried to fill the mask with blood, one at 170 feet and one at 18. That got my attention. I read all that I could, listened to every idea and received some hints from my buddies. Even did a little experimenting but it's hard to get rid of 30 years of bad habits.
I try to.......
-meet Anabel once a week for clearing practice in a 12 foot pool. Chlorine is suspect.
-give up on the Sudafed and pharmacy sprays
-go easy on dairy products, nuts, wheat and sugar.
-drink papaya and pineapple juice (watch out for preservatives)
-hum a few tunes (Am. Medical Assoc. recommended)
-give up beer, wine and caffeine.
-spray saline solution in the nose 3-4 times a day.
-drink a half gallon of water before diving.
-clear once before leaving the surface.
-go slower for the first 30 feet.

I just got myself some nasal spray.. it is one of those steroid nasal sprays that I got from my local drugstore... I'll give it a go next time I go in.. so should I use that right before going in or say 24h before or on my way to the spot...?
Thanks for all of you and hope you have clear sinuses.. I tried to push through.. and bloody mask.. haven't tried since I have always called it a day, and it has ruined one too many trips in to the deep blue now..
medical help

This might not be applicable to your case but here is my experiance.

Never had any problem clearing ears or sinuses except once, I got a cold and for weeks after the cold was gone my sinuses were jammed completely shut. I was living on a boat and had diving available every day, very scary situation, began to think my diving days were done. Went to a Bahamian doctor and he indicated he had seen this condition lots of times. He gave me a week of cortizone tablets. Magic stuff, never had a problem again.

Just a comment on the steroid nasal sprays, They are generaly slow acting. You have to use it everyday for a week or so to see much effect.
Kinda karmic that I see this thread after the blowout in the Keys last week...

I'm with you Bill, but man, the caffiene is all I have left! :waterwork Just in from the ENT lady :inlove and it was a good news/bad news thing. The good news is that they can fix the tear I put in my left frontal with a catheter sized tool (shudder). The bad news is she told me to stay dry and pressure free for 6 freakin months!! Wha?

I asked if they could ream the sinuses to allow a freer passage and all and they looked at me like I wanted a Micheal Jackson beak! She just gave me that look, you know that look and gave me all the advice previously mentioned and then really put the knife in my back by saying that sinuses get less flexible with age... :head I swear that hurt more than the squeeze. :waterwork I go in next week and I'll be in the water in a month. Promise. ;)

Little salt on the wound there ..eh...Sven. Sorry about that dude...do it yourself??? :confused: I'm kidding man. Atleast you went to Florida while us Northern Californian suffer through this stupid weather we are having. Good job though on the fish.
A gripe

I've been sentenced to see the ENT next week too.

Even better, I've had to cancel my Channel Islands trip because things won't clear up, so that's a bit of a bummer. I could go and sit on the boat, but I don't think that'd be fun with everyone else diving...:( Maybe next time things will work out better. Good luck with that sinus tear though Sven. You'll get 'em next year.

Hi all....well, this seems to be the week for sinus troubles! I have noticed that the 'shoulder seasons' --Spring and Fall, cause a lot of havoc here in So Cal because of the Santa Ana winds. A lot of pollen and irritants get blown our way...plus, those of you who are sensitive to changes in pressure....are also the ones with a combination of allergies and slight colds from time to time. Kinda like 1+1=3 sort of dynamic.
All the previous advice from cdavis, cliffgollus, and everyone else whose written sounds right to me: I hadn't heard about the no-no on caffeine, wine, and beer (aren't two of those major food groups?) I can't live without those!!
---Yes, oral cortisone (usually a short 'burst' for at most three weeks) works wonders on the sinus lining that is inflamed and in the process is growing thicker, if there is no infection present although sometimes it is prescribed in combination with antibiotics when the sinuses are tightly shut. (Chronically irritated sinuses are more sensitive and easily damaged by changes in pressure and lack of ambient moisture....especially when they are not given time to heal properly. Hear me, Sven?)
Normal sinus tissue is very thin, lies flat against the bony cavities, and will allow water to flow freely in--and out. Remember those akward moments when your sinuses would spontaneously 'dump' water out your nose hours after swimming? Well, it seems that years of exposure to cold, allergens, etc. causes the lining to sometimes become thicker and occlude the sinus openings. 'Polyps' or little protrusions can grow from the sinus lining (actually they are the same tissue, just more of it) and can prevent the sinuses from emptying freely. What you don't want are the sinuses to become closed 'pockets' in your head: bad things, like germs and especially fungus, can grow in a warm moist environment like that....and cause long-term problems I won't mention here.
The good news is that there are ENT docs out there who like to dive too...and the armory of treatments is growing daily, it seems. The bad news is that to achieve a long-term goal of a freediving lifestyle, you must be compliant and obey what your doc tells you to do....to the LETTER.
You may have to give up a few months of diving to allow badly damaged surfaces to heal. The net gain is a better diving experience overall in the course of your lifetime. Surely a 6 month break is a better trade when you can gain many years of painless diving. It really is worth it.
I don't want to meet any of you in Surgery with such chronically abused sinuses that we do a biopsy and find something not easily cured.
Please, remember, if any part of the body is continuously traumatized and not allowed to heal, it may cause growth of cells that are abnormal. Trust me, you don't want that.
I will search the 'net and see what I can find out from the Medical Forums...I'm new to this site, so perhaps Papa Smurf can forward some links for me to browse. I have a few colleagues who dive....I'll find out what they say too.
---BTW, if any of you fellas have a history of broken nose, consider that it might be contributing to your difficulty. A diagnosis of Deviated Septum can also cause some misery with sinus problems...all due to blockage.
In my opinon, if you are having chronic problems with your sinuses, there must be some underlying cause. Consider treating the cause and not the symptoms.
My sincere sympathies. I've had troubles of this kind as well.
Sorry if this reply sounds like the lecture from Mom. No offense intended.
Last edited:
Re: Sinuses....

Originally posted by OceanSwimmer
I don't want to meet any of you in Surgery...

Well then... how about for a latte? :D

Thanks for the love everyone. I'll cop to having damaged the tissues to extents that I'd not recommend to anyone, even if the money was good. I've had ears blown out and have rinsed things remarkably similiar to tissue from my helmets on more than a couple instances, so yeah I'm ripe for a boo-boo. :blackeye

In the times that I've buggered up the sinuses (and I'm going to include ears here too,) on a sport diving basis, it's always been associated with diving while congested to even a small degree and regardless of which decongestants I took to alleviate the situation. Now I preach up and down to the coolest kids on the planet that you don't do that, but hey :hmm

One of the things that has been a blessing in more ways than one is practicing yoga before heading off in the rig to the water. The stretching of the chest and lungs from the deep breathing seems in my case at least, to free up the sinuses from their slumber and wakes them up along with the rest of me in a pretty controlled manner. Of course this is when I can get my bucket outta the sack early enough to do it prior to hitting the road. Sultan of Sanguine here, Erik does a similar deal and seems none the worse for it in spite of a thin do on the dome. :cool: Hydrodynamics and all...

Give the shop you booked through Bat, most will give a partial if not full refund if you can give them a week or so, of course the Truth boats are hurtin' as with the the rest of the economy and might just give you a berth on another trip rather than a refund. If you're going on the Conception, give my best to Captain Chris and John, they'll hook you up.

And what is it with me and nurses, Ocean? :inlove

hi Oceanswimmer, thanks for your answer as well... Uh this starts to sound bit too serious.. perhaps I should pay a wisit to the doctor ans see if everything is ok... as I have had blocked sinuses for the last..wow I dont konw.. some time..
Sorry if this reply sounds like the lecture from Mom. No offense intended.
Thanks, I try to remember to take it easy when I get to dive again....:head
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