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Old 06-17-2020, 12:30 PM   #1
musubi
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Middle Ear Infection Prevention

Lately I've been getting infections of the middle ear on the regular following a session of spearfishing, putting me out for weeks at a time. It's been getting more frequent and the infection worse and worse each time it happens. It happens to both ears, but so far not at the same time. I do wait until complete healing until diving again.

I have a suspicion on why I'm getting it and it's because of my sinuses and allergies. My nose gets irritated because of the mask pressure, allergies partially kick in, and mucus builds and collects (I can barely feel this). When I'm diving, I can sometimes hear some mucus or fluid in the eustachian tubes when clearing. Nothing that I'm concerned about for clearing, but I'm starting to suspect that the presence of fluid there is the reason for the infection, since through my readings online, that's how it all starts.

So, two things come to mind: using an antihistamine before I dive or using a decongestant. Or both, but I'd rather not need to take both. I read using a decongestant also increases your heart rate, which is not desirable for diving, but I guess it's better than suffering with ear infections right?

I'm scheduling to see an ENT on this since I need to figure this out before I get injured. Does anyone have a similar circumstance as me and, if so, how have you prevented middle ear infections?

My main concern of course is this affecting me to the point of not being able to dive because of the risk of getting this infection, consequently ending this activity for me. So, I'm working on getting the medical attention (which can take months here), but curious to see if anyone has been through this or something similar.
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:49 AM   #2
Sebastian2
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Re: Middle Ear Infection Prevention

I used to get ear infections, especially diving in dirty cold water. I think they were mostly infections of the outer ear canal, so not sure if my solutions would work for you. Both of these were recommended to me by Martin Stepanek a long time ago and they solved my issues.

First, don't use q-tips to clean your ear canal. The wax protects it and prevents infections.

Second, I carry a small bottle of custom bottle of 50% isopropyl alcohol and 50% white vinegar, with just a few additional drops of either olive oil or glycerine. It's easiest to just buy a bottle of swimwear, which already has the alcohol and often 5% glycerine, empty half of it and fill it with vinegar + drops of olive oil. If I go diving in dirty water I put drops into my ear before and after the dive.
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Old 06-21-2020, 11:42 PM   #3
2fishin2
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Re: Middle Ear Infection Prevention

Are you diving with a hood? If so, maybe a good sanitizing of the top....

Probably a medical issue you have been ignoring because lack of care difficult. Do you have a history of these problems? I suspect not.
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:38 PM   #4
musubi
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Re: Middle Ear Infection Prevention

Thanks for the tips.
I ended up getting an ear infection in both ears which I'm still recovering from. After my last two dives, I have used a mixture of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar (50% each), but somehow I still ended up getting ..this.

I do dive with a hood and I'm always careful of washing my wetsuits after each dive with wet suit soap. I honestly don't know what to think of this. I've been diving for years without issue and only recently I've started to get ear infections.
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Old 06-22-2020, 10:30 PM   #5
Behslayer
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Re: Middle Ear Infection Prevention

Musubi, could be that your ears are inflamed from the first infetions and now that they are inflamed they are trapping water. That happened to me once a long time ago but I had to take a break from diving anyways as it became winter.. and over the months of not diving it improved.

I use 70% Alcohol. NOT 95%. and after dives I Put some in my ears and push down on my ear 20 times to swish it around then I let it drain. So much of Ear infections is water being trapped due to inflamation. And then once it's trapped the problems get worse..

One trick I use is to use a big Syringe like you'd find for administering a baby or kid cough medicine.. (since I have some around) this way I can put the alcohol directly into my ear without spilling it into my eye etc.. Others will know better than me, but so many times it's inflammation. Also stop dairy.. and if you feel your self getting congested while diving, take some time and blow your nose.
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Old 06-23-2020, 12:12 PM   #6
musubi
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Re: Middle Ear Infection Prevention

Quote:
Originally Posted by Behslayer View Post
Musubi, could be that your ears are inflamed from the first infetions and now that they are inflamed they are trapping water. That happened to me once a long time ago but I had to take a break from diving anyways as it became winter.. and over the months of not diving it improved.

I use 70% Alcohol. NOT 95%. and after dives I Put some in my ears and push down on my ear 20 times to swish it around then I let it drain. So much of Ear infections is water being trapped due to inflamation. And then once it's trapped the problems get worse..

One trick I use is to use a big Syringe like you'd find for administering a baby or kid cough medicine.. (since I have some around) this way I can put the alcohol directly into my ear without spilling it into my eye etc.. Others will know better than me, but so many times it's inflammation. Also stop dairy.. and if you feel your self getting congested while diving, take some time and blow your nose.
Thanks Jon. When you mention trapping water (because of the inflammation), are you talking about the ear canal or behind the eardrum (or both)? Just curious. I suppose either isn't good.

While I have a good ear dropper, I think I need to improve on rinsing out my ears, whether that's keeping the fluid in there longer or swishing it around like you mentioned. Dairy and I don't get along much, so that's easy for me to stay away from.

Another question, do any of you feel that pee getting into your ears causes or contributes to ear infections?

Especially when I head out with my kayaks for a dive, I really should take frequent rests to clear my nose. I get backed up often, which I think is due to my regular allergies.
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