Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

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Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby blackbobcat » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:50 am

Hi Guys

I'm new here so I'm sorry if this question has been asked before.

I'm having equalization issues... I've always had problems right from when I first started diving but they seem to be getting worse.

When I first got my ticket I had small problems but decided it was manageable. I don't get the chance to dive a lot as I don't live near the ocean and normally only dive if I go away on holiday.

BUT I have recently started working on a cruise ship and get some great deals on dives around the south pacific, (Vanuatu, Fiji, Australia etc). Anyway I have done a couple of dives since I have been working there and they were all abysmal... I couldn't enjoy them for one second because my equalization was so bad... the last trip I did was down to 30m I think... I only got 3 minutes of bottom time... the rest of it was used descending... I would go down half a meter, stop try to equalize, wouldn't work, go up, equalize, go down, equalize, wouldn't work, go up... rinse and repeat.. I held up the group I was with and one of the guides had to split off to wait for me because I couldn't go with the rest of them... eventually I got down but i was in so much pain I don't remember the dive... went to the next dive and thought ok well Ive gotten down now so my ears should be warmed up now so should be OK... nope same problem... whole group had to surface early as there was blood coming out of my ears and nose and the guide was worried it would attract sharks lol...

this has happened 3 or four times now (bleeding only once though) and the doctor on board the ship is getting sick of treating me for barotrauma... and said he refuses to treat me for shark bites if its my own fault.

I have always had narrow sinuses... My nose clogs up if someone even talks about having a cold and I suffer terribly from hay fever... hell my nose clogs when I get hot... On top of that I have trouble getting a proper squeeze on my nose in a face mask... it works better if I take the mask off but lets be honest that's not really an ideal solution

My girlfriend (who knows nothing about diving, dive medicine,ears or sharks) suggested I wear earplugs... I told her that was a terrible idea and explained to her I did a brief stint as a medic in the RNZN so have seen my fair share of dive related injuries and like to think I know a little bit about dive medicine and barotrauma...

Anyway I was investigating the possibility of getting assessed by an ENT specialist and having a minor operation to help and I stumbled across something called Doc's Proplugs which are vented earplugs... they claim to make equalization easier by slowly releasing water into the ear to ease the sudden pressure increase inside the ear... much like a very slow descent would work... it makes sense in my mind that this would work

but my dad is a salesman and i don't trust a word he says so i'm certainly not going to trust a website from the USA of all places so I would be keen to know of anyone who has actually used these and found them to be useful?

I love diving and where I work at the moment has some of the best diving in the world but I'm missing out at the moment because I am defective and attract sharks

website is http://www.proplugs.com/scubadiving.shtml

Thanks for your help... any help is appreciated however to save you the time I have already tried the following:

Yawning while equalizing
swallowing while equalizing
Blowing my Nose
Pre equalizing before diving
Eucalyptus Sticks or Vix
Waxsol or ear cleaning fluid stuff
Cotton Buds
Praying to God (this one was suggested by an American)
looking up while descending
pulling my ears while descending
sticking fingers in my ears
having someone else stick their fingers in my ears (this also was an American)
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Re: Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby Phantom Menace » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:34 pm

Tricky situation you have there!

I haven't used Docs pro plugs but I have heard good things about them from some who have - particularly from a couple of under water rugby players. For this we do a lot of repitions of dives to 5m (bottom of the dive well) but this was less about equalisation and more about minimising ear infections / swimmers ear.

Have you tried descending feet first? (or switching round to a head up position periodically).

A friend of mine who now free-dives past 50m ran an equalising session for the free-dive club and one of his early issues was huge trouble equalising - and when free-diving you don't have the luxury of time. He even went to the trouble of building a balance board to swing to various angles on to practice equalising and found for a while that he had trouble as soon as he went even slightly head down.
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Re: Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby blackbobcat » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:55 pm

Hey Ya

Yes head first is definitely worse lol Ive done feet first, head first and sideways down a rope... doesnt really help lol but thanks anyway
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Re: Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby AndrewRawlingson » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:50 pm

Ear plugs won't change the pressure differential when descending - no amount of advertising can overcome physics.

The vented ear plugs in question also allow water to pass after a certain depth (6 metres). I've used them and could never tell whether they were sealing or not because my ears ended up wet anyway. Don't even think about non-vented ear plugs.

Diving should never be painful and you should not be equalising forcefully. While blood coming out your nose isn't uncommon or particularly worrying if occasional, blood coming out of your ears is not right at all and would signify ear drum perforation to me.

I would concentrate on equalisation technique, but you may have to concede that diving is not for you.

You have my sympathies. I've had surgery for a diving related ear problem (different to your issue) and years of ear trouble. All good now I'm pleased to report. So, while I understand that diving is important to you, hearing and health are far more important.
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Re: Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby TheoENT » Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:31 pm

Dear blackbobcat,
as an ENT specialist (based in Australia) I am rather concerned that you have had blood coming out of your ear and sinuses when diving. This indicates significant barotrauma. If you are serious about diving can I recommend that you make some time to see an ENT specialist to examine your ears and nose and hopefully can help you with this problem.

I recommend docs proplugs for swimmers and surfers to assist with preventing exostoses (bony growth in the ear canal) and otitis externa (external ear infection), however, do not recommend them for diving or flying. There are other treatments which may well be helpful and assist you and occasionally patients require surgery for this problem.

Hope this helps
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Re: Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby Phantom Menace » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:55 pm

^^^ What Theo said!

Hearing loss is a one way street.
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Re: Equalisation Issue and Proplugs?

Postby divepirate » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:44 pm

Thank you for your input Theo.
I reiterate, this is something not to take lightly.

See an expert
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