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Specialist Forums > General Forum > Perforated eardrum
posted : March 10, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Hi I am hoping that someone here has a similar problem and can advise me. My left eardrum is perforated. I know this because a doctor shoved a needle through it when I was a baby. I suppose the problem was what they now call glue ear. When I go swimming, should I swim under water or dive in, my ear drum allows water to pass into my middle ear. For days afterwards I can hear water moving around within as I move my head. Now if this can happen with just diving in, imagine what will happen should I go diving. The increased water pressure will probably result in water completely filling my middle ear. I could be deaf for months afterwards. I really want to take up scuba diving. Has anyone overcome this problem? I shall ask my gp when I next go to the doctor, but the problemis a bit specialised. I think a diver with a similar problem would be better to advise me. I did consider using an earplug when I enquired on holiday recently about diving, but the instructor was against the idea.

Santa Dog
posted : March 13, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
this may help you when i was diving ibn Oz an instructor had a marsk witch had ear covers linked to it . that ment you didnt has to equal the pressure ear and didnt get water in then .. im sorry i dont know were to buy them from but im sure a look on the inter net should find them

posted : March 13, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Thanks Santa Dog . I was beggining to think that diving was something I would need to avoid. This is great news.

Santa Dog
posted : March 13, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
me again just found still loking for more but its a start

Santa Dog
posted : March 13, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
sorry to spam this post this is the item i was on about

Pro Ear Scuba Dive Mask Keeps Your EARS DRY when Scuba Diving

posted : March 14, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Hi ya,
Well i haven't had the experience personally, but i have met a scuba instructor who had the same thing and he went to a specialist who sorted it all out.
it would be an idea to speak to a diving doctor
look on the heaith and safety web site under hse medicals and there is a whole list of qualified medics around the uk one of which should hopefully be near you!

Hopefully see you in the water soon!

posted : March 15, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Thank you Kato.scuba chick. If I can get this sorted then I'll be in the water this October at Phuket Thialand. Its a wonderful spot for it, and padi courses are half the price you'd have to pay in the uk, and the sea life is just like a gaudy aquarium, and the waters just as warm.
best wishes

posted : March 15, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
thanks again santa dog

posted : March 15, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Hi Kato
Where is this health and safety website?

posted : March 18, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
My diving instructor once had a perforated eardrum. She was told by her GP that she could never dive again, but went and visited a specialist diving GP who said that she just had to stay out of the water for a while and then would be fine to go back in again.

Don't use earplugs when diving (as it says in the PADI manual!) as it means you can't equalise your ears.

My advice would be to visit a specialist diving GP - there are links to them off the padi website.

Good luck!

posted : March 18, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum

posted : March 19, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Thanks fwuffydragon

posted : April 7, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Hello there. Funnily enough, my left ear drum is perforated too and again, had glue ear when i was young. I'm keen on pursuing diving as part of my career, however, I have had a different response from gp's and other doctors. I was advised against diving as you quite correctly mentioned, water can pass through the perforation. This can not only having a soggy ear for days, but sudden changes in pressure can lead to permanent damage in the middle ear. I even avoid having baths now, because I can physically feel water passing my eardrum which leads to a really nasty dull ache. Iíve found a set of earplugs that really do seal water out of the ear canal which probably would allow me to swim and snorkel but the instructions with the earplugs advise that they should not be used below a certain depth.

As for a cure to the perforated eardrum, thereís two things afaik. You might be lucky (unlike me :o() in that it might close up naturally or thereís the possibility of surgery; called a myringoplasty. This is there they take a very small skin graft from behind the ear and literally use it to cover up the perforation. Iím still in two minds about having this done as Iím not too sure about itís complete success rate. There is some info on this website about myringoplasties and perforated eardrums where diving is concerned. Sorry about the slightly negative news, but there should be some light and the end of the ear canal ;o)


posted : September 22, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Thanks for the input Chris. Unfortunately I don't think it will heal up. Its had 48 years to do that already.

posted : September 22, 2005 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
Hi you seem to have had a lot of addvise already somevery good. using earplugs is adefinite no no the pressure can force the plugs down inside the ear canal. I think the dry ears mask is you first port of call a member of my dive club used one some years ago when he was told to stay out of the water (after an ear infection) his ears fully recoverd after some time. I my self was unfortunat to get a burst ear drum during a rescue, I had to stay out of the water for three mths until it heald again, so the surgry may be avaiable option (contact a medical referee to be sure) there is a list of medical referees on the BSAC web site they are very experianced in these maters most haveing been divers them selves for many years. best of luck Paul BSAC Instructor

posted : June 7, 2008 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
I was born with a perforated eardrum and at age 13 i had the Myo op. It worked perfectly and was sealed for about 10 years until i got an ear infection in my middle ear and it ate away the graft. Now, I either have to have it done again or just leave it. The op took 5 hours to do, was very painfull for two weeks after and also my body went into shock after and i lost about 10 layers skin because of the reaction, so im inclined to just leave it. But for anyone else wanting to do it, I would reccomend it.

posted : January 24, 2010 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
I guess all of this has been sorted out by now, but just in case someone is looking for information....

I speak from 18 years of diving experience with this condition (22 years in total now) and have done many more dives with a perforated ear drum then before my rather unfortunate accident. I lost eardrum, hearing and balance organ on my right hand side when some idiot did not look where he was going and threw himself out of the inflatable. He crashed with his cylinder on my head. In a way I was lucky to even survive the whole ordeal, also because this took place on a nightdive in the Red Sea many moons ago... I did have a graft (my eardrum was gone for 50%) but unfortunately it blew again (pinhole size) after about 10 dives.

It is perfectly possible to dive with an earplug when you have a perforated eardrum. The perforation will ensure that air can move freely in and out of what is now an extension of your middle ear and normal equalization will prevent the plug from becoming uncomfortably squeezed into your ear. These are NON vented earplugs by the way, vented earplugs would simply let the water in.. (Warning: DO NOT use unvented earplugs when you have no perforation, you'll probably end up with one if you do so!!!!) (I hate double negatives... )

However, there are some associated risks. If all you have is a perforated eardrum, but for the rest a perfectly working middle ear and balance organ, a sudden flush of cold water into your ear can really cause vertigo and disorientation. If, like in my case, everything is gone, there is no such risk.

I did see a BSAC medical referee about this initially and we agreed I could continue diving with a plug.

Diving with a perforated eardum and NO plug is not an option. You really want to keep the water out. I can attest to the fact that salt water in your eustachian tube very much feels like a pretty bad toothache, your mask fills up with water coming out of your nose, and the risk of middle ear infections is quite large. And this is not a good thing, especially not if you still have hearing in that ear because the infections can severely damage your hearing (and then some...). I have had some water leakage over the years :) but in my case the hearing is gone anyway so i am not too worried.

Having said all that, the last three years I have had regular water leaks plus consequences and I am seriously considering seeking advice on a second graft.

Hope this helps someone. Enjoy your diving. I certainly have over the years, also with a hole in my eardrum!!


posted : April 7, 2015 Post subject: Perforated eardrum
You can wear earplugs while performing any thing which can cause damage to your ears.

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