There are bound to be a long line of questions for anyone who has little experience in diving. Such as: How do you dive? Is diving hard? And how long do oxygen tanks really last? However, one question that people often neglect to ask and later regret is, how do you get rid of blocked ears after diving?
Now we have all had blocked ears at one point or another and I’m sure that we can all agree that having blocked ears is incredibly annoying. Not only does it limit what we can hear, but having blocked ears is also extremely distracting when you are trying to get on with everyday tasks. After all, how can you go about errands when you have water sloshing around in your ear?
Blocked ears are an issue that divers are all too familiar with. Within the long list of dozens of items of equipment, there is weirdly nothing that you can use that will prevent your ears from being blocked by the water. A lot of people question why you can’t just use earplugs when you are in the water, as surely they will prevent any unwanted water from entering your ear canal? Earplugs are a big no-no in the world of diving, as they get in the way of equalizing which can lead to a world of trouble for your eardrums. Not only that, but earplugs prevent you from being able to hear anyone, which is incredibly dangerous when you are underwater as someone in your group could need assistance or some sort of aquatic vehicle could be nearing. Having the ability to hear is especially important if the people you are with are wearing some of the best snorkel masks which are usually full face masks, as you won’t be able to see their lips very clearly.
So, unfortunately, you have to deal with the inevitable fact that you are going to experience blocked ears when diving, but how exactly do you get rid of it?
Is having blocked ears dangerous?
Aside from being very annoying and inconvenient, there are actually a few dangers that are associated with having blocked ears.
Infection can become a big problem if you have blocked ears for an extended period of time. Water found in naturally occurring bodies of water does not undergo the same chemical treatment that pools and hot tubs do. This means that the sea and lakes are full of natural bacteria that usually cause no harm to humans. However, if this bacteria is left in the ear for a long time, it can cause infection. The ears are very important and so any infection that may happen in that area can be extremely dangerous so be sure to seek medical help as soon as you notice any signs of infection.
Water buildup in the ear can cause a lot of unwanted pressure which could lead to the rapture of your eardrum. Obviously, this is the last thing that you want as this can drastically affect your hearing and even lead to permanent damage.
Aside from causing damage to your ear, water build-up can just be extremely painful, Water blockage in the ear can cause pressure which could also lead to headaches and other annoying problems. The ear was not made to have water constantly inside of it and so if there is water inside of it, it will be extremely uncomfortable and impossible to just ignore.
Can I avoid having a blocked ear?
Blocked ears can in fact be avoided if you follow the right steps to do so. The most effective and perhaps the only way to avoid a blocked ear is by equalizing properly. Equalizing creates counter-pressure which could prevent your ear from being flooded with unwanted water and will ensure that you don’t have to deal with any blockages.
There are plenty of ways to successfully equalize, the most popular technique that divers use is the Toynbee maneuver. This technique consists of pinching your nose while swallowing, this creates counter-pressure that combats the increasing pressure of the water that you will experience as you descend deeper into the water.
How to get rid of blocked ears
You won’t be able to deal with your blocked ear issue while in the water, so you will have to wait until you get out to be able to do something.
The first thing you will want to try when attempting to rid yourself of blocked ears is lying down. Now, for a lot of you, I’m sure this sounds like a godsend after spending hours in the water, but it is also really helpful for naturally allowing water to leave your ear.
All you need to do is lie on your side and let gravity do all of the work. The water would have naturally been pushed into your ear due to the pressure of being underwater and once you are away from this pressure, the majority of the water will naturally seep out of your ear. If you struggle to get all of the water out, giving your head a little shake should help with whatever is left.
Use your finger
Though a lot of people may find it gross, getting your finger involved can be extremely useful when trying to rid your ear of unwanted water. You can use your finger to wiggle your ear to allow water to naturally fall out of your ear and doing so is often really successful. If this doesn’t work, you can also use your finger in a plunging motion and that should help create counter pressure to make the waterfall out of your ear canal.
People will often use a heat source such as a heater or a hairdryer to get the water in their ears to evaporate. Though this isn’t especially dangerous, you should still try your best to be careful when using this technique as long exposure to heat can be quite damaging to the skin. However, heat has been known as a successful technique for getting rid of this water. If you use a hairdryer, be sure to not bring it too close to your skin and only expose yourself to heat in thirty-second intervals.
For as long as diving has been a sport, ear clogging has been an issue. A lot of manufacturing companies have noticed this and so have created ointments that can be specifically used to treat blocked ears. A lot of people who frequently fall victim to water blocked ears tend to have these special products as a part of their general kit and you can usually find them stocked at any diving store. However, there are plenty on the market that is released with the promise of fixing your problems, but a lot of these products don’t really work at all. If you are a part of a diving company, you can usually ask around and find out what brand really works and where to get it from.
Alcohol drops can be a very good solution for getting rid of blocked ears. You can drop one or two droplets of a dilute alcohol solution into your ear and this will help get rid of any blockages. However, you shouldn’t leave the solution inside your ear for a long time as alcohol can be damaging to the skin and the eardrum.
What should you do if you can’t remove the blockage?
If you have tried a number of techniques and still can’t get rid of the blockage, you should seek immediate medical advice. Though having a blocked ear won’t kill you, it can lead to infection so you should do what you can to avoid this.
Usually, a doctor will be able to see you on short notice and they have plenty of tools that they can use to make sure that the blockage is removed safely and quickly. They may also provide you with future products and tips on how to get rid of it yourself if it happens again. Not only this but while you are there they can check if there has been any sort of build-up of any nasty or unwanted bacteria while you have been in the water.