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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Oct 9, 2001
I´ve been snorkelling for many years, but never deeper than 12 -15 meters.
A couple of weeks ago I decided trying 15 -20, during 2 days i made 15 -16 and on my last diving day I went to 20, but the 3rd time I went down I felt a terrible pain in my head facial area. at the first moment i thought it was my ears, that i was not equalizing enough, but then i realized my ears had nothing to do with it.
Once on the surface and after a minutes rest in my float I tryed going dawn again but the pain restarted at no even 3 meters.
I was lucky it was my last day of diving!!!

I have an apointment with an ent medic this week, but i wanted to know wheater one of you have experienced something like this before.


hi Sebastian,
Yes, I've had this and I know other divers who have had it. Do you have pain just above and behind your eyebrows? Does it hurt when you tap that area? Does it throb when you bend over (lower your head)? It probably means that you have a mucus plug of some sort blocking the passage to one your frontal sinus cavities, and it has created in a negative presure resulting in some bleeding - I think. If so then it's not a serious problem. When it happened to me, it took about a week to clear up... try inhaling steam with Olbas Oil (through your nose!). You should still get it checked out by a doctor in case it's something else.

hi alun,

I went to the doctor today, and except for the oil thing he told me the same as you. He said the cause was surely a block of the chanels that conect the sinuses to the nose. Vacuum in that trapped air caused the pain. All this must have been due to a cold (that i dont remember feeling) or due to an allergic reaction. (we are in spring now and there is a lot of pollen in the air and i´m a bit allergic to it).
he gave me some pills to descongest my nose area and stop any allergic reaction.

I hope it doesnt became a regular thing.

thanks for your advice!!

hi Sebastian,

I didn't feel like I had a cold when it happened to me either. The mistake I made was to continue to dive when the problem started. Equalisation became harder, then on ascent I felt a little pain in the sinus, and heard the sound of the air coming out of the sinus. I should have stopped diving for the day, but I carried on for a few more dives!
I've only ever had it once, so there's no reason to think that it should happen often. Just be aware that you are more likely to have it if you feel a little congested. My advice is if it ever happens again, stop diving straight away, otherwise recovery may take longer.


I have had allergies since I was about 7, I'm 53, so I can relate to your story. I routinely inhale about a pint of warm salt water up my nostriles each morning. The mix that I use is about one teaspoon to the pint. It takes a bit of getting used to. The warmer the water the better for cleaning you out but, try finding a mix you can tolerate. I breathe in through both nostrils and exhale out through my mouth. I find that it helps.

Best wishes,

Hi freediver 48,

Let me get it straight: you actually suck tha salty water trough your nose and spit it trough your mouth, or you just suck it a litle bit up your nose and spit it trough your nose again?

Hi Sebastian,

I usually inhale 15 times and the water is all gone. Yes, you inhale fully, and exhale through your mouth. You think that is weird, well it is a little different. The same technique, but with sea water, is used in deep dives to simplify equilization. No, I do not do that, but it is my understanding that the filling the sinuses with sea water is a fairly standard deep technique. You may need to sneak up on this and perhaps start with smaller amounts. It is also a component of some Yoga practises, but as I recall, the salt water goes in one nostril and out the other, like alternate nostril breathing. I do it Western style, in the nose and out the mouth.

Best wishes, and good inhalations,

Another possibility, if inhaling is too strange for you :) is to lean over a bath tub (head down - behind up) and to simply pour the saltwater into your nostrils. After the water has filled your sinuses, you can actually feel it on your palate (a very interesting upside-down feeling ;)).
You can leave it there longer than when you just sniff it in.
By raising your head a bit combined with spitting and sneezing, you bring the water out again.

It is best to take an isotonic salt-water solution (0,9% salt) to avoid irritations. Or if you don't have an opportunity to measure, make it about as salty as blood tastes (advice from my ENT...!)

This whole saltwater business really helps!

Just a quick note. I know of a lot of poeple who use variations similar to this for clearing their sinuses. I've been warned that it is possible that a residual amount of water may be left in the sinus cavity and can cause infection, and therefore is not used on a regular basis but only when a specific dive warrents it or ones sinuses are feeling particularly bad. I personally have never used the technique but thought I should pass this info on.

Safe snorting!! :t
Sinus Problems

Hi guys,

I have been deep water spearfishing for a number of years and cannot go deeper than 5m if I have not prepared my sinuses properly before a dive. Snorting a mix of saltwater and bicarbonate of soda works very well, but only for a short while.
( And it can make the problem worse, believe me I've tried)

For a more lasting effect, especially if I want to dive for hours at a time I ussualy start my morning by snorting a nasal decongestant like Flixonason or similar. (Please note, only use it before a dive and not on a regular basis because a lot of decongestants contain cortisone which is bad and can lead to nose bleeds)

About 15 min before I go into the water I will take 1 more doseage and it enables me to dive for about 3 hours without any pain.( When it starts hurting again, I just get back into the boat and repeat the proces)
If I know it is going to be a very long dive I also take Sinusitus medication like Sinumax or similiar which does not make you drowsy and also helps for a day of painfree diving.

I would recommend that you consult your physician before taking any medication especially if you suffer from problems like high bloodpressure, hyper sensitivity etc.:naughty


Why one shouldn't dive with sinusitis

I recently found a passage in my favorite book on diving medicine ("Tauchen noch sicherer" by Ehm, unfortunately only available in german :( ) that explains why one shouldn't dive with sinusitis even if one manages to equalize the sinuses:

While healthy ears won't get damaged if you equalize about every 1 - 2 m (3' - 6'), this is not enough for the sinus cavities.

A pressure difference corresponding to 25 cm (slightly less than a foot) of water is enough to lead to a swelling of the mucous membrane and may squeeze tissue water out of the mucous membrane. (So if your sinuses are blocked and you dive just one foot deeper, that's what will happen...)

An even greater pressure difference corresponding to between 3,5 and 5 m (10' - 15') will lead to bleeding.

As both these things damage the function of the mucous membrane, infections may occur, that will prolong the sinusitis considerably. :waterwork

I would recommend to use the whole saltwater snorting thing only to cure your sinusitis, not to be barely able to dive when you shouldn't. :naughty

A comment to Simon:
Studies have been carried out that show that sniffing isotonic saltwater reduces the risk of infections of the upper respiratory tract. So if you do it regularly, you will be less likely to catch a cold.
An ENT specialist told me that the long-term use of isotonic saltwater is not harmful, but of course the long-term use of decongestants is.

Furthermore, if you already have a sinusitis, mucus is known to be an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. So if one regularly manages to get rid of it with the help of saltwater, then this will be a good way to fight the infection.

Hope all of you are healthy and won't need that advice at all...
Dealing with chronic sinusitus.

I've had serious trouble with chronic sinunitus and nasal congestion all my life, due to allergies and deviated septum. Trouble equalizing both descending and ascending. It never went away. If I waited for clear nasal channels and clear sinuses, I'd never dive.

I never stopped diving, not smart enough to know better I guess, just suffered through the pain. And most times continuing to dive and working through it actually helped -- equalizing got easier as diving continued through the day. That might not be good advice, and some doctors or divers may scream at me for realting it. But it seems like to me, you know your own body better than any doctor. You can test with shallow dives when deciding to continue diving. Staying at the surface for longer recoveries, long slow neck stretches and rolls, taking mask off to breathe deep through nose all have helped me.

I recently had surgery (speto-rhinoplasti) from the best ent/surgeon I could find in my area. So far, probelms are gone. Equalizing has been much easier. He also recommended snorting saltwater to clean nose and sinuses. After surgery it was important to clean and aid healing. I've read as much as I can find about the practice since -- I continue to do it, not daily now, but weekly.
One for Uli.
Please excuse my ignorance again but you seem to be a chap who knows what he's talking about. I've always been led to believe that degongestants can lead to a reverse block whilst diving - is this correct?? :confused:
Hi all.

I had a sinus pain some weeks ago, and received descongestants from the docs, saltwater inalation from FD48 and steam-oil inhalation from Alun.(thanks !!!)
I went freediving this weekend, still taking the descongestants and doing the salt thing on Saturday morning.
On Saturday everything was OK, doing many dives to 20 mts with no problem.
The problem started saturday night. My son (14 months) went sleeping at our bed in the middle of the night, and he managed to drop the sheets out of the bed during the night (he sleeps with the cloth on).
The result of this was a congested right side of the nose. I cleared it up with repeated salt water inhalations. My nose was finnaly cleared and i went to the water.
After about 40 minutes diving ok, and with no advise i felt this terrible pain in my right eye. I thought it was going to explode, it went away in the surface, and i had no blood as in the previus time. After resting in the float for some minutes i tried again with the same result, so i got out of the water.

So, my advise is: watch for colds the days prior/during diving trips!!!

Hi Simon,

I've always been led to believe that degongestants can lead to a reverse block whilst diving - is this correct??

This may well be the case: everything seems to be fine on the way down, but on the way up (be it due to the change in body position, the cold or the decreasing effect of the decongestant) a block might occur -- and then we're in real trouble, because sooner or later we have to go up... :(

I think we should take Sebastian's advice serious, but of course it is hard not to dive, just because of "this little cold".

For the ones with chronic sinusitis:
The best idea is to see an ENT specialist like marshallh7 did. He/she may find the cause of the sinusitis (the tonsills and the teeth might play a role) and inform about surgery that could provide relief.
To go diving with the help of decongestants will certainly make things worse in the long run.

Or like Jean Reno would put it:
Dive only when "she's ready for you"...

Stay healthy and enjoy diving (in that order...) ;)
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I've been told by an ENT, after my second operation, very simply, don't go more than three feet under the water with chronic sinusitus because it could cause such a serious injury somewhere in the inner ear that I might not be able to walk for the rest of my life.

I suppose I should have cast about for a second opinion. Swimming underwater is one of my greatest pleasures.

Some practitioners of yoga use a "neti pot," a small crockery affair with which saltwater is poured into one nostril to drain out the other. I bought a variation of this device called a "Rhino Horn," made in Norway, for about $20 including shipping. A salt measuring spoon is included, and the instructions explain how to rid the sinuses of water after these ablutions are performed. I have found it very effective. I even warded off a sinus headache with it. The instructions also make it very clear that using water without the salt will cause pain. No thanks.

I can see that using the saltwater in which one is swimming could be a very effective method of clearing the sinuses. However, it would definitely be a good idea to get rid of all the water immediately after doing this. Some years ago, experimenting with another device, I didn't know how to get rid of the water, and believe me, the consequences are unpleasant: stuffed nasal and ear passages, ringing in the ears, a vertiginous feeling.

If any ENTs would like to weigh in on this topic, I'd be most grateful.
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