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Ear Infection: How to Prevent it While Diving?

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Everyone who enjoys water sports: surfers, swimmers, and of course, divers, have faced an ear infection at one time or another. Luckily it is not a worrying disease, but it is painful, so learning how to prevent otitis externa can save your next diving vacation.

How Does an Ear Infection Happen?

Of the three parts of the ear (outer, middle, and inner), the outer one has to deal with infections. This section of the ear runs from the pinna to the eardrum.

It is a narrow canal, has a 36º C / 97 F average temperature, is always moist and dark. These conditions are ideal for the proliferation of germs. In other words, microorganisms usually live inside our ears. Bacteria are liable for the majority of ear infections, causing about 90% of otitis. Fungi are just a 10%.

Many people think water pathogens start external otitis, but this is not entirely true. Bacteria would have not anything to do if we did not lose our natural protection.

The ear produces earwax that contains substances that prevent bacteria from reproducing. It also prevents the skin from softening.  But what happens when we expose it to water for a long time? The earwax softens and falls off. In this way, the walls of the ear canal are exposed to pathogens. In addition, without the protection of the earwax lipids, the cells are affected and allow the bacteria and fungi that cause ear infections to pass through.

So, divers and water sports people suffer more ear infections, simply because their ears are more exposed to water action. The same happens in summer. The heat invites you to swim, and the water enters into the ear.

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How Can We Prevent Ear Infections?

As we already know the cause, we can prevent otitis externa.

Tips to prevent an ear infection before a dive

  1. Do not remove earwax.

Contrary to popular belief, earwax is not a dirt accumulation. Your body produces it to protect itself. Therefore, unless you cannot hear anything because of an earwax plug, avoid cleaning your ears before a dive. If you need to remove excess earwax, see a laryngologist. Never use cotton swabs to clean your ears. These can cause wounds and abrasions that will be an open door for infections.

  1. If you suffer from dermatitis or psoriasis (diseases that desquamate the skin), apply ear oils that protect your skin as natural earwax does. You can follow your doctor’s recommendations and always before a dive.

Prevent Ear Infections While Diving

A diver should never plug his ears, or he will not be able to compensate.  However, there are some options, such as ventilated earplugs or masks with earmuffs. The latter covers the ear without plugging it. This way, you will avoid contact with the water, but you will be able to compensate.

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Prevent Ear Infections: What to Do After Diving?
  1. Wash your ear with fresh water. Rinse it, do not try to pressure water into the ear.
  2. Make movements with your head to empty your ears and dry them gently with a tissue or with a hairdryer at low temperature and airflow at low speed.
  3. Consult your doctor about the possibility of using boric alcohol for a few days if you have to dive very frequently. It is a master formula that helps dry the ear from the inside, preventing the skin from macerating.

Putting some drops in your ears after dives can avoid ear infections, but don’t use boric alcohol continuously because it can dry and crack your skin, making it vulnerable.

Now you know how to avoid ear infections. Without otitis externa, you have no excuses. It is time to live an unforgettable diving vacation. Tell us, when are you coming to dive?

Prevent Ear Infections: What to Do After Diving?
  1. Wash your ear with fresh water. Rinse it, do not try to pressure water into the ear.
  2. Make movements with your head to empty your ears and dry them gently with a tissue or with a hairdryer at low temperature and airflow at low speed.
  3. Consult your doctor about the possibility of using boric alcohol for a few days if you have to dive very frequently. It is a master formula that helps dry the ear from the inside, preventing the skin from macerating.

Putting some drops in your ears after dives can avoid ear infections, but don’t use boric alcohol continuously because it can dry and crack your skin, making it vulnerable.

Now you know how to avoid ear infections. Without otitis externa, you have no excuses. It is time to live an unforgettable diving vacation. Tell us, when are you coming to dive?

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