Monday, 12 October 2009

Acute Ear Barotrauma

On Saturday the IRT was called to respond to a diver in distress. The Diver had potentially suffered an acute ear barotrauma and required a medivac via Rescue 106 (Helicopter) to the Poole Decompression Chamber (Or Hyperbaric chamber).

Lots of technical words in the above sentence, but let me try and explain.

When diving you need to equalise the pressure in your ears as you descend. This is relatively easily done by squeezing your nose and blowing gently until you hear a pop. You continue to do this as you descend otherwise you suffer pain in your ears due to pressure build up. You have probably experienced it at the bottom of a swimming pool. On the way back up your ears normally equalise back on their own accord, but yawning (and yes you can yawn underwater) or moving your jaw can aid this.

In this case it appeared, and I say appeared as I do not have the full details and I am not a diving doctor, just an ex diving instructor, that something went wrong. The chap was unable to clear his ears and this led to a pressure imbalance in his ears. This is incredibly painful - trust me - it really is not good. Best way to deal with it is to descend slightly and take your time coming up.

Often the imbalance causes you to become dizzy (or start to samba), nice feeling but you risk making bad decisions or unconsciousness. In this case his dive buddy who happened to be his wife got hold of the diver and made an assisted ascent with him. From a depth of 30m this was technically difficult and put her at risk, but fair play she played a blinder. Well done.

Given the situation the chap was taken as precaution to the decompression chamber. Hopefully he’ll make a full recovery and be diving again next year.

More technical bits here:-

Note:- and that is why dive masks have a silicon bit by the nose- so you can equalise.

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