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New Help for Scuba Divers with Ear Problems

Almost every diver has felt it…you’re on the surface starting a dive. As soon as you deflate your BC and descend a few feet…that crushing pain in one (or maybe both) ears. Maybe it’s never happened to you before. Or maybe you worry about it all the time. You try going back up and equalizing again. Hopefully that works. But if not, do you do the safe thing and scrub the dive, scrapping all the money and time it took to get to your favorite dive spot? Or just empty your BC, head for the bottom and hope for the best?

The problem involves a structure that connects the back of the nose to the middle ears called the Eustachian tube (ET). Every diver learns about the ET during training. When you equalize, air is squeezed down the ET into the middle ear to compensate for increasing pressure with depth. At the end of the dive during ascent the air moves passively from the middle ear back to the nose.

Problems with the ET, called Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) can be frustrating to treat. It can ruin a dive trip or even prevent you from diving at all. Oral medications and nasal sprays often help with ETD. If medication doesn’t work then getting tubes in the ears can help. But if you get tubes put in your ears say goodbye to diving!

There is now a better solution for divers, and everyone else. The nasal end of the ET can be dilated with a balloon passed through the nose. The procedure can be done in the office under local anesthesia with minimal, if any, discomfort. The procedure has documented efficacy through one year follow up in the general population.

If you have ear problems when you dive, or if your ears are preventing you from enjoying diving, call 404-297-4230 to make an appointment with Dr. Koriwchak. Find out if Eustachian tube dilation may be right for you.


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