24 May, 2008

It's a Pain in the..... Ears!!!

About 4 years ago while diving in the Red Sea off the southern coast of Egypt near the Sudanese border I came close to hanging up my diving gloves. It wasn’t because of a scary diving experience, nor was I tired of the sport I started only a year before; it was my ears and the terrible pain I would get after any given repetitive series of dives be it in the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean or the South China Sea.

I must have seen about five or six different “specialists” who could only prescribe me tons of antibiotics as a remedy to get rid of painful and annoying ear infections. One went as far as prescribing a tailor-molded pair of ear plugs to “help” me prevent water getting into my ears while diving. Luckily for me I never followed his expert suggestion or I could have ended up with something worse than a ear infection.

Anyhow, how was determined to find a solution and that came from raking through a copy of the US Navy Divers manual my friend Enrico kindly shared with me. Since then not only have I been able to prevent rather then cure the condition known as Swimmer’s Ears (or more technically known as Otitis Externa) but I also met a hell of a lot of people while diving who complain to me about similar symptoms, pain and frustration.

I am not a doctor so for a more qualified review of the condition take a few minutes to read through Dr. Edward Thalmann, DAN Associate Medical Director, articles and recommendations on the subject.

I started off by using the official US Navy Divers remedy, Otic Domeboro®. However, it proved very difficult to get hold of anywhere outside of the USA where it also requires a medical prescription. Luckily for me I have very caring friends in the USA who did manage to keep my supplies well stocked and, with it, give me the opportunity to perform 100’s of pain-free dives. Since then similar solutions have become more easily available through regular dive outlets. Just make sure you stick to the application routine religiously during all your diving trips. 5 drops for 5 minutes in each ear prior to beginning the day diving and 5 drops for five minutes in each ear at the end of the day diving. If you have been a victim of Otitis Externa you will not regret it.

If you are having problems getting hold of the drops locally, you can always order them on-line from LeisurePro which I have personally tried and tested.

Leisure Pro stocks a version of the drops that unlike Otic Domeboro® do not require medical prescription

1 comment:

Alexander Markowetz said...


I have relatively stable ears, hardly ever get swimmers ear. However, I have tons of friends that are troubled, so here is some advise.

Most non-prescription drugs designed to prevent swimmer ear are complete rubbish. Rather costly, they contain 100% plain Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. ProDive in HK even stocks two different brands, ...., very funny.

So instead, just buy plain rubbing alcohol, and drop it in your ears after diving. Same effect less money. The alcohol helps water to evaporate faster, and dry ears are less likely to get infected.

Now for the improved version. You mix the alcohol 75% to 25% with plain vinegar. This leaves the environment in your ears slightly sour, and less attractive to bacteria.

I reckon that for 10 US$ you can mix a lifetime supply of preventive ear drops.

Instead, you can try Pro-Ear, an mask that comes with ear covers. www.proear200.com Depending of the shape of your head, ears and haircut, this might keep you ears dry or not.