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Sinus problems
Headre - 4/25/2009 2:31 PM
Category: Health & Safety
Replies: 17

My husband has a really hard time with his sinuses and it really effects his diving. He sometimes takes some sinus relief type meds, along with halls vapor cough drops, ect. before a dive but he still has a rough time when going down.... he sometimes uses almost 1000 lbs of air just trying to equalize his ears and can never make it all the way down to the site. He also suffers from nose bleeds most of the time. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions to help him with these issues??
Diver_Down - 4/25/2009 4:04 PM

It sounds like your husband has a really irritating problem. I don’t have a solution for you, but it would be a good idea to contact Divers Alert Network (DAN) to find a local MD who specializes in Diving Medicine. The MD should be able to help your husband with this issue.

Good luck.
Jlauria - 4/25/2009 4:36 PM
Iv heard of people not being able to equalize in which its simple they cant or shouln’t dive. It might be easier if he yawns while trying to equilize. I can equilize just by moving my jaw forward and down it might make it easier. I can only give you a little advice about equilizing, I wish I could help with the other problems. I would contact a few dive instructors, and ask them their advice.
luv2dive100 - 4/25/2009 5:19 PM

I have herd they work, check out this site, look at vented ear plugs for diving

Dan would also be the first I talked to.

Good luck

LatitudeAdjustment - 4/26/2009 7:52 AM
I’ve had problems clearing too, DAN suggested I go from 12 hour Sudafed to 4 hour non-PE plus a spray of Zicam, just be sure to take it long enough before the dive for it to get into the system.
ScubaSteve63 - 4/26/2009 4:09 PM
there’s now a procedure wherein an ENT can use a laser to open closed or narrow sinus passages. it would be worth it to seek out a reputable MD that can asses your actual situation rather than rely on OTC medications, or, God forbid, stop diving!
gepdiv - 4/26/2009 4:12 PM
I have had the same problem suddufed might help but it can cause rapid heart beat , try decsending feet first it may not work for you but it has for me.
DiveGirl - 4/26/2009 9:30 PM

I have the same issues too. The best way I have found is to relax when going down. I try to get off the boat first so I can take my time descending. I also try yawning when I can’t equalize. I used to get a bloody nose when I first learned to dive. I got them by blowing too hard when trying to equalize. (I had a really cute instructor and was always mortified when I would surface with a bloody mask).

I went to an Ear/Nose/Throat specialist. All they did was give me a decongestant med. The pharmacy messed up the label. It said ’Take 2 hours before DYING’! and one of the nurses told me to chew gum. Um, OK :)

Good luck and Happy Diving!
Rich-D-Fish - 4/27/2009 12:58 AM
From luv2dive100:

I have herd they work, check out this site, look at vented ear plugs for diving

Thanks for the tip on these plugs. Seen them in the store and never thought about using them. First tried Leisurepro and they were $30 for a set of four different sizes. I then went to my local Sport Chalet and they sell them by the particular size for only $11, and they use a fitting kit to help you choose the correct size for your ear. Hard to say no to that price for an opporunity to correct a frustrating situation. I too have had recent trouble clearing. Haven’t had a head cold in months and very little congestion. I used to clear fine with half a head cold! Now, just recently, it’s a real chore to drop below even 10’. I eventually get there, but my buddies must be frustrated waiting for me. On the website it mentions the possibility of cold water shocking the eardrum being the culprit. Sounds plausible. Water is cold right now. Not as much trouble last summer. So I will try my plugs this Sunday (hopefully) and report back how they work. Thanks again for the tip.
neptunemd - 4/29/2009 1:24 AM

may i suggest instead of blowing through the nose - swallow instead - that way you’re opening up the Eustachian tube that connects your middle ear and nasopharynx... that way it relieves the pressure in your ears... i usually do that several times a day while im on land just to equalize the pressure and keep the tube open

tjbrowndiver - 4/30/2009 4:00 AM
I have the same problems and use claritin D to help. The reverse blocks are really painfull though and can occur when using any kind of decongestant to dive with. Afrdrine is also good to have with you. If you are an allergy sufferer the best way to deal with these problems is to have multiple remedies on hand at all times and be ready to switch if one is not working. I have noticed that the people that say you shouldn’t use these to go diving are also people that do not have problems with sinuses like some of us. One thing that really helps is flushing the sinus using a Neti pot. The spray mists do not compare to a good flush with a Neti pot. Tiger Balm applied before a dive to the area at the bridge of the nose and forehead seems to help a little as well; carefull not to let sweat carry it into your eyes though because it really stings a lot. Very slow decents will also help because if you wait till it hurts then it is adding to the problem the same way as with ears. I will often take double dose of the claritin two hours before diving to avoid these problems. Also staying really hydrated is important. Hope this helps and tell your husband I literally feel his pain.
Rich-D-Fish - 5/04/2009 12:57 AM

As promised, here is my report on Doc’s Proplugs from two dives I made today.

I must first tell you that I am making the assumption that my previous difficulty with clearing over the last three months were going to continue today. On the last six dive trips in a row (none involving a cold or congestion) I had to really fight to get below 15’. I would go down and up and down and up for 5-10 minutes before I would finally get my ears to equalize, and then I would be fine. If I surfaced during my dive and tried to go back down, it was twice as bad. Really frustrating. At the end of my dives I would have really sore ear drums from the workout I gave them going up and down. And my ears would be popping and cracking for a couple days after.

Today I did two dives with the proplugs. The first dive to 60’ I took slow and didn’t feel any pressure until I hit 10’. Very slight pressure which I could feel slowling equalizing on their own(very different feeling), and cleared in approx. 5 seconds. I tried to pinch and clear but couldn’t get anything to pop (also different). When I hit 30’ I had some bigger pressure, but not pain like in the past. I went back up 5’ and waited. Again my ears slowly equalized on their own, taking approx. 30 seconds this time. Once I cleared this time I went straight down to 60’ without problems. This is a huge improvement for me!! Toward the end of the dive my buddy and I needed to surface to get our bearings and descend again under the kelp. My buddy had clearing issues like I used to. I had none at all!

Second dive was to 100’ and I started off slow. Again I could not pinch and clear to get my usual pop, but I didn’t seem to need to. So I just descended, and continued pretty fast all the way down to 100’ without slowing or stopping, and I cleared just fine. Big smile on my face at this point.

After the dives I had no water in my ears. No pain or soreness. No popping or cracking. In fact, my ears don’t feel like I even went diving today. I should comment that the sizing template the sales person at Sport Chalet used said I should use a small. That size felt like it could fall out pretty easy, so I tried the Medium and it fit more snug. I think this is key, and maybe the reason the other person said he got water in his ear. Just a theory....

Of course these are just my experiences, and I cannot assume the proplugs will work in the same way for anyone else. But I can say without a doubt that (A) I could feel a difference with them in, and (B) they seem to have solved my problem. Hope this helps others with similar issues.

Rich-D-Fish - 5/04/2009 9:00 PM

No worries Martin. I admit I’m treading on water myself trying to accurately describe the experience of using these things. I can’t say they actually kept all the water out. I doubt they did. But then again I never felt any water inside if that makes any sense. I was thinking about how you described the water trapped in your ears and sloshing around....I didn’t get that at all. When I got out of the water and took them out there was no water trapped to come out. The website is a bit contraditory on this point. On one hand I think it mentions that it only keeps the flow of water in and out to a minimum. On the other hand it mentions a benefit of no, or less, ear infections. I would think if any of that nasty sea water gets in there you have an equal chance of a bacterial infection...but I’m no doctor.

For my dive to 97’...I was genuinely shocked how easy I went down. An instructor buddy of mine even commented that she never once saw me clear the whole way down. I’ve never cleared that well in my two yeas of diving. The only weird thing I can’t explain is why I could not do my usual nose-sqeeze-blow&clear to get that nice pop. These ear plugs really seemed to regulate the flow of air and pressure nicely. Oh, and yes they are the vented version. Just a small hole. No clue how it works. I tossed the leash that came with them as they would just get in the way. They fit nice and snug in my ears and don’t feel like they will fall out or are too tight.

And again, I really can’t say that anyone else will have the same result. Heck, I can’t even claim after only two dives that I will ever have the same result. I’m just encouraged is all. If my results change in the future I’ll be sure to post again. Good luck.
GlimmermanCai - 5/04/2010 6:24 AM
Hello Docj84,

I’ve been looking all over for some "authorized" confirmation that ProPlug works .. I even sent the question to PADI and received a "consult your ENT" reply ..

I have no problems my self .. but I need those plugs for my best friend (who also happen to be my wife) .. she has a perforated ear drum and they say this is about the only available solution for some one with this condition to dive .. of course I will not let her into the water before I’m fairly sure it’ll work.

The plugs has a whole in them but it doesn’t go all the way through .. at the end there is a valve that let air out but no water in so you can equalize on descent and this valve is the key to the claim that a person with a perforated (punctured) ear drum can use them to dive safely without water jetting into his/her middle ear.

I’ll keep researching .. pass me any material you have on the subject ..

Thanks .. Ahmad

Rich-D-Fish - 5/04/2010 9:37 AM
Hi Ahmad,

I can say with certainty that my vented pro plugs have a small hole I can see straight through. In fact, when I wash them after a day of diving I usually blow air through that hole to make sure no ear wax or salt is building up to block the hole. My advice for your wife is to first try them in a pool, in a controlled environment. If there are no issues there, next try cold ocean water, maybe on an anchor line with the ability to go up and down without fail. When I developed my clearing difficulties it was only in the cold water of the ocean, and I felt pressure at 8-10 feet. No need to go deeper for me. I read a theory of how they work is the shock of cold water "freezes" up the ear drum for normal movement, and the trapped water behind the plug gets warmed by your head and help the ear drum to move more easily. After nearly 100 dives on these plugs now that sounds plausible. I now do notice the cold water seeping in on my first dive, and it takes a 10 seconds or so to warm up. I have also gone over a year with no ear or sinus infections. I used to get one every couple months. I do attribute this to the lesser amount of bacteria infested water flowing in and out of my ear. Good luck. I hope these plugs or possibly some other method helps your wife get back to diving soon. One last tip with the pro plugs...on some occassions when I am diving with slight head congestion (I know I know) my ear drum sometimes still sticks and I have to go back to the surface. On the surface I pinch and blow lightly. If I can clear on the surface it seems to "lubricate" the working parts of the ear drum and my next decent always goes perfect. My new routine is to always test my clearing on the surface just before I decend. So far so good.

Paudie - 6/22/2010 12:51 PM
Hi there,

I have been reading down the whole thread and What I do recommend is to NOT use any medication to get down. This is a recipie for disaster. It could work yes I agree, but it could also work and stop working down there and cause an increased pressure to build up in the inner ear on the way up. So not you are down and cant come up.... or at least without blowing out your eardrum or worse a round window in the ear.

The suggestion about the widening of the sinus is the best idea I think, but your problem may be a very narrow eustation tube joining the back of your throat to your ear. Another thing I have seen in the past is the more diving you do the more it opens. But that means diving 2-3 times a week with the occasional 7 days in a row type thing. The ears are an area you dont want to put too much pressure on. Another thing I see offshore is divers equalise about every .5 of a foot if they have bad ears.

Have you ever had problems coming up?

Hope this helps and good luck with it