Last Updated: November 10, 2022
Do you enjoy diving? Well, who doesn’t like reveling in the beauty of corals?
However, there are some issues that arise with scuba diving too. Having blocked ears is a common issue that occurs. Not just amateurs, but professional divers too sometimes struggle with this.
Thankfully, it is not something that cannot be solved. Understanding how your ears get blocked and then taking the correct measures will ensure that it doesn’t become a problem.
Continue reading to find out what causes blocked ears and what you can do to treat them.
What Causes Blocked Ears?
How exactly do somebody’s ears get blocked in the first place?
While scuba diving, one needs to focus a lot on the pressure. Since you are underwater, you are facing the pressure of millions of water molecules on you.
Your ears will feel the pressure change as your middle ear is just an air space that needs to equalize. Not equalizing your middle ear to the pressure changes of the outer surface will lead to blocked ears, scientifically it is called Middle Ear Barotrauma or MEBT. This takes place when there is a lot of fluid or blood that is constricted within your middle ear.
While there are a lot of things that could go wrong, there is a different term and treatment for all of them. All you need to do is remember what helps when, and you are in the safe zone.
Ear Fullness After Diving
Some divers complain about their ears always feeling full and heavy after a dive. After the lungs, it is the ears that are of utmost importance when it comes to diving.
Ear fullness occurs when the eardrum undergoes a certain amount of trauma because the pressure underwater and outside hasn’t been equalized. The best way to treat this is to go forward with your descent extremely slowly and keep trying to equalize the pressure using the Toynbee maneuver and through slow but repeated movements and gestures.
This is one of the most common things that could happen after a dive. Ear Barotrauma is essentially when fluid or blood begins accumulating in the eardrums in huge amounts, and there is a failure to remove that. It could then cause a ruptured eardrum or other severe injuries in the ear. Ear barotrauma is also called ear crackling.
It also happens because of a lack of equalization of pressure. This is the reason that divers always feel as if their ears are clogged or restricted. In case you feel that you are unable to equalize, the best thing to do is end the dive and get the proper medication and aid that your divemaster recommends.
If you are worried about how long can water stay inside your ears, know that it will usually drain itself in few hours, but also couple of days in rare cases. In case you realize that the water is still present, it is time to visit a doctor that can look at it closely and provide help. The longer the water remains inside, the greater the chances are of catching an infection.
While the middle ear barotrauma recovery time can vary for everybody, there are certain periods of rest that you need to take, without which complete recovery is essentially impossible.
For instance, depending on the severity, your doctor will tell you how long you should take to heal. Know that the most severe cases could also lead to a permanent loss of hearing. However, that is extremely rare.
If the barotrauma is not that serious, it will get resolved on its own. However, if the case is a little mild, then this could need almost 3 weeks of rest to treat. Only in the rarest cases does it take six to twelve months to completely go back to normal. While treating barotrauma, you must also check for infections or any other pains that could happen side by side.
Ear Pain After Diving
While most people refer to it as ear pain, most professional scuba divers know it by the name of an ‘ear squeeze.’ This, too, is a rather frequent problem that divers experience. The ear pain, where it feels like somebody is almost squeezing your ear, has certain causes.
It can usually happen when the diver is in an area where the change in pressure is the greatest, leading to a lack of equilibrium in the middle ear. As and when you keep up with your descent, the pressure is bound to increase and be felt on your ears. The best way to solve this is to either treat it at home by decompression or go to a doctor who will subscribe pain medication and exercise.
While diving is all fun and games, as soon as the pressure hits, it could affect you forever. Therefore, you must learn how to differentiate between clogged ears, ear squeezing, middle ear barotrauma and other ear related issues.
If you are capable enough of diagnosing your own symptoms, chances are you could treat it right on the spot. For this, you need to understand the measures to protect your ears and remedies to take. Know that there is absolutely no issue that cannot be treated, and only the rarest cases turn out to be fatal.
Make sure to learn about getting rid of blocked ears before you begin a dive. Once you are aware of this, go ahead and enjoy the underwater world to the fullest.
My unbounded love for the oceans and everything it has to offer motivated me to pursue my passion and become a professional scuba diving instructor.
I keep reading, exploring, and learning more about scuba diving and the underwater world all the time, so I’m excited to share my knowledge with fellow scuba enthusiasts and hopefully contribute a little to your development as a diver. I want people to fall in love with the oceans with as much passion as I have. Read more about me here.