Medical Forum
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Question
Posted : January 13, 2014
Hoping for advice... I have only dived once, but had issues with my ears. Although I'm keen to try again I am worried about causing myself an injury.
In 2010 I did an introductory dive, down to about 10 metres. I had issues popping my ears, so was advised by the instructor to hold onto the line he had (attached to a buoy on the surface) and pull myself down really slowly, putting one had just below the other). Once down a few metres, I was fine, but on the ascent I couldn't pop my ears again and started to feel dizzy and intensely nauseous. I stopped until the nausea passed and continued ascending, but when I came to the surface I couldn't stand up. Everything was spinning wildly around me. The instructor said it was ok, that my ear just needed to pop. Sure enough, it did within a minute or so and then I was absolutely fine.

Would you possibly be able to advise if this is something normal or if I should talk to someone before trying diving again please?

(As background info, I've always had trouble popping my ears when flying - the pressure builds up so much it's painful - and often get fluid behind my left ear drum after a cold).
Answer
Posted : January 24, 2014
Thanks for the query.

Your description of your symptoms is redolent of alternobaric vertigo, where the pressures in the left and right middle ear spaces are different. The brain has difficulty with this and the resultant response is usually one or more of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea. It sounds as though you had a nasty dose of all three!

Equalising problems are common in those starting diving. The Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear space to the back of the throat, are typically unused to the large pressure changes encountered when diving. It takes regular, careful practice, but usually gets easier with time.

It's possible, from your history of difficulties when flying, that you have some anatomical obstruction to the movement of air through the Eustachian tube. If you have similar symptoms when diving again, my advice would be to see a doctor with some diving medicine experience to be examined.

Good luck!

Regards, Dr O
Answer provided by Dr Oliver Firth
Dr Ollie Firth
Additional Comment

Posted : April 18, 2014 by - dapex
I am in the same situation but I have dived about 15 times now... Most the time I end up aborting the dive because of equalizing issues.. When abroad I dont seem to have any issues... I know everyone says to see a doc with diving experience... But where do we find one?? I am based in derby if that helps?
Additional Comment

Posted : April 22, 2014 by - Dr Oliver Firth
We have a chamber in Rugby and Dr Gonevski there is a very experienced diver who will be able to assess you. The number for appointments is 01788 579555. Alternatively, there is a list of UK Sport Diving Medical referees here:

http://www.uksdmc.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33:medical-referees&catid=7:medical-referees&Itemid=3

Regards, Dr O
Disclaimer:
The views expressed by Dr Firth & Dr Jules are their own and the publishers accept no liability for the advice and views expressed by Dr Firth , Dr Jules, or other users, which are provided as a general service to divers. Users are warned that secondary posts are the views of other users and may not be medically correct.
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