Author Topic: Diving with an ear infection - any doctors/ear experts opinions would be welcome  (Read 325 times)

Offline Jm55

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Iím currently on holiday in the Maldives and my wife and I had booked to go scuba diving tomorrow. She has now come down with an ear infection and has been advised by the doctor that she now cannot dive (meaning I will need to go without her as they will only refund her fee as she is the one with the medical condition).

Sheís absolutely desperate to go (more so than me) and has been trying to find out essentially what the risk is of going diving with an ear infection (ie whatís the worst that could happen) - her rationale being partly based on the fact that she has a history of ear infections and has previously gone swimming etc even though she had been advised against it and has suffered no adverse effects (my thoughts are that diving would pose significantly more of a risk due to the pressure involved etc but thatís purely a guess on my part as I have no medical knowledge).

Clearly my advice to her is to listen to the doctor and not do it but sheís been trying to clarify what the worst case scenario is if she did do it (and if that scenario is particularly unpleasant, what the chances are of it materialising,) she has no pain currently (although did previously) but has a feeling of discomfort and Ďfogginessí in the ear.

As Iíve said above, Iíve told her whatever it is thereís presumably a chance of permanent damage essentially meaning she may have issues for life and/or never be able to go diving but sheís somewhat adamant to find out the risk with it being so rare that you get an opportunity to dive in the Maldives so I thought Iíd reach out on here to check whether anyone can add anything.

Iím fairly sure I know the answer but it would be worth having it confirmed to at least put the matter to bed if nothing else.

Thanks.

Offline Kenny's Jacket

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I have been in the exact same situation in Philippines, we dived anyway and the pain levels went from bad to terrible.
I am categorically NOT saying that this is worst case scenario, but it took 2 days off our holiday where I was in too much pain to do anything but lie on the bed and wait for the antibiotics to do their thing.  In hindsight I would have done things differently.

I would advise the following. The cost of diving compared with that of a holiday in the Maldives is fuck all. Get her refund and both of you dont go until she's better and then both go together.  Diving with your partner is infinitely better than on your own. 

Good luck.  Its fucking baltic, I wish I was in The Maldives  :wave




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While she may be able to equalize on the way down (a big if!) the lower you go the higher the pressure, the more chance an ear infection wil come into play and the more chance of something to go wrong. A burst ear drum is the least of the worries as if this happens you now how have incredible pain and a panicky diver 60-100f down to deal with.

Thereís a very valid reason the doctor has said donít go diving with an ear infection. The possibility to snowball issues is quite high.

The situation sucks, and Iím sorry it happened to you guys but rather safe than sorry in this situation.

Offline Jm55

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Thanks for the replies - decision has been made that I will go alone (with an instructor) and we will arrange to do it again together once sheís had chance to hopefully get some medical advice on how to mitigate this in future (as I say she has sensitive ears so itís not an isolated issue).

To come back in Chakanís point - the dive is only 12 metres (so about 40ft, so not as deep as the 60-100ft youíre quoting, presumably as itís our first time diving, but I appreciate the point nonetheless and assume it is still valid at the reduced depth.

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No problem, the biggest pressure change in diving is the first 10 meters, unless you are going really really deep. But yeah the point still stands.

Take her snorkeling! That should be something she could still do. Iím not sure about the Maldives but I know Bali had a ton of places where you wouldnít need scuba gear, just fins and snorkel to see some great coral and fish

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I think you've made a wise decision. We only snorkel so I'm no expert, but I don't think it's wise to dive with ear problems. A quick Google seems to back this up.

I remember flying with an ear infection once. Just the pressure change when we were landing was extremely painful. I'd hate to have experienced that ten metres down.

Hopefully, if you have enough time left in your holiday, you can both rearrange and dive together later on after treatment.

We will be going to the Maldives next March and are hoping to swim with whale sharks and manta rays.

Enjoy your stay. Hopefully you can get to dive together soon. From what I've seen online, the house reefs are great to snorkel in the meantime. I always snorkel with earplugs in after my ears filled with water once and I couldn't hear in my left ear for days.

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Offline the oxonian

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I had ear infections and perforations in both ears, when i asked the consultant about my plans to do a dive , he emphatically told me 'do not do it'.
That was quite a few years ago and i'm still advised not to dive as the risk just isnt worth it

Offline CaseRed

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Absolutely, categorically do not dive with an ear infection. The pain would be unbelievable and as someone else said the pressure changes most at the beginning of the dive, especially if you are not used to equalising properly. With the water clarity in the Maldives its likely that a dive to 12m would not give you much more than snorkelling anyway.

For context I completed my Open water course 7 years ago, have done another 60 odd dives since and plan on going advanced next year in Egypt to dive the SS Thistlegorm.

Diving if you do it wrong is a really good way of causing yourself serious problems or worse!

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Having had an ear problem on holiday recently, I would advise you not to do it

Her long term health is far, far, far more important and you don't mess with your ears as it can very easily turn into a long term life-changing impact


Just don't.
Poor.

Offline Rush7V

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I'm a BSAC Advanced Diver and Instructor - Do NOT, no matter how much you want to, dive with an ear infection, it will be horrifically sore and not to mention the damage if the ear drum pops - chances are if this happens, the plane journey home won't be happening either (Pressurised cabin etc)


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With the water clarity in the Maldives its likely that a dive to 12m would not give you much more than snorkelling anyway.



My thoughts too.

I'm just a few weeks back from the Maldives myself and Snorkelling was more than enough for us.  Not saying you shouldn't go SCUBA diving of course.  But at least Mrs JM55 can still enjoy the spectacular marine life.

Even with an ear infection I'm still envious of you being out there :)

Whereabouts are you btw?

Offline Ciara (with a capital "C")

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Take any ear problems so, so seriously.

I am effectively deaf in one ear - happened when I was a 8/9 years old maybe, ear drum burst one evening and then the problems escalated over the years - perforations, cholesteatoma, bone eroisions etc... We think it was caused by many infections over time picked up swimming. About 12 operations and 20 odd years later, I'm still plagued with ear infections every 5-6 months, it is not worth risking the health of your ears. Balance is also not the best.



JFT96.