Q-tips and Eardrops? NO

earDivers always seem to have a “homemade” cure for ear problems.  How many times did you hear the advice of alcohol or oil tips to stop the pain?   Well we have news for you, stop fixing the problem no drops and stop using Q tips!

The package of Q-tips plainly reads, “Do not insert swab into ear canal. Entering the ear canal could cause injury.” Yet despite warnings written directly on the package as well as from doctors, a lot of people are still using cotton swabs. In the future you may want to be careful or ditch them altogether, since Q-tips can severely damage your ear canal if pushed in too far. What’s more? Along with potentially rupturing the membrane, the swab is likely to push wax deeper into the ear canal rather than removing it — even if a little shows up on the cotton.qtip

As divers we need some ear wax, the wax protects our ears to the exposure of pools, ocean and wind. Of course when there is too much wax, it can cause difficulty equalizing.  The best solution is to go to your local doctor and have your ears cleaned.  Do not start messing with drops or alcohol yourself.  Here are the reasons why: Any of the drops that are available over-the-counter or mixed at home are intended to prevent “swimmers ear”. The emphasis is on prevention. Once an injury has taken place, these drops do not have any therapeutic value. Almost all drops, regardless of their source, contain some amount of alcohol

Frequently divers surface complaining of a sensation of fullness in their ears. They will often describe it as feeling as though there is still “water in the ears,” stuffiness or congestion; this has to clear up by itself.

When there is inefficient equalization the increased hydrostatic pressure causes the ear drums to bow inward. This creates a vacuum effect. Due to the laws of physics, vacuums are not particularly sustainable; fluid and blood begin to fill the space. At the same time, the Eustachian tubes begin to collapse.

The fluid/blood is effectively trapped in the middle ear, causing the sensation of “water in the ear”. The fluid is not in the external ear canal. Swimmers ear drops may not induce pain but they are still of no value because the problem is not in the external ear but in the middle ear. An intact ear drum will prevent the drops from reaching the middle ear. The drops may or may not increase discomfort but, again, there is no reason to suspect that they would help relieve the symptoms.

According to WebMD, most people don’t need to do any ear maintenance at all. Earwax slowly moves toward the opening of the ear canal and is sloughed off during daily routines and showers. If you want, you can take a washcloth and, using your finger; gently wash the opening of your ear.

It is extremely important that a diver who complains of any ear discomfort he or she be advised to see the doctor. Obviously, diving should be discontinued, until doctors’ approval.

After a severe ear infection about 10 years ago the tip from the specialist was: NO over the counter eardrops, but before you enter the water just drop 2 or 3 drops of baby oil in each ear.  Do not put any cotton to close the ear.  Too much oil will run out and the rest will protect the ear from the water.  After the dive: rinse ears with fresh water at room temperature. So I have been faithful to his tips; I always bring a small bottle of fresh water which is very comforting after the sun has warmed it up!  I have been ear infection free, ever since. Happy diving and stop messing with your ears!  See more at: http://www.alertdiver.com/Stop_the_Drops#sthash.RK17TZFX.dpuf

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