I have been thinking of this post for awhile. Like, mainly earlier last year when I got a double ear infection that I let go on for way too long without seeking medical attention. Friends and family members will know that I put off trips to the doctor for as long as possible, even when both my ears are dripping pus and I’m yelling because I can’t hear at all. Call it stubborn, I know it’s definitely not cute.
Anyway, I thought in the spirit of encouraging myself and you guys to take the best care of possible of your ears, since having healthy ears is the only way you can equalize, I’d give out some tips.
1) Don’t use cotton swabs. Man. I love cotton swabs. They feel satisfying. BUT…
as this article from DAN points out “The cotton-tip applicators also bear a remarkable functional resemblance to the ramrod used in the 19th century to push the ball and patch (bullet and accompanying lubricant) down a rifle barrel.” So instead of removing wax, or other things, you’re pushing it deeper in your ears.
2) instead of swabs, use a bulb, to gently squirt warm water and hydrogen peroxide into your ears.
When you dive a lot…and I do this now, and swear by it…use white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. The alcohol dries the water out of the ear…(like, the polluted sea water from the Pacific) and the white vinegar helps maintain the pH balance. Although I should remind you that white vinegar is awesome and can be used for a million things.
3) have an ear infection?
Let’s look at the anatomy of an ear first to get an idea of what’s going on in there.
It’s most likely a middle ear infection. Germs or bacteria have hunkered down for the long haul and are causing you pain.
If your ears feel like they have water in them and you were just swimming or diving, it’s “swimmer’s ear” or an outer ear infection. Rubbing alcohol or a simple solution purchased from a drug store can help dry out the liquid.
But a middle ear infection will need more attention. It might have happened because your eustachian tube is blocked (from sinus things or whatever floating around in your cavity) It’s infected, and then it fills with pus…behind your ear drum, AKA your Tympanic Membrane.
Some people think putting a hot compress over their ears will help ease the infection, but really once it’s progressed to that point (your ear feels “full” and sound is muffled) go to the damn doctor. They’ll likely prescribe an antibiotic to kill the infection. And killing that infection feels so good.
I’ve also had steroid ear drops prescribed to help calm the swelling in my ear canal, and deal with the pain.
I’ve found that it’s totally possible to scuba dive with an ear infection. This is so not advisable, because even if you’re equalizing, you’re probably inflaming your canal further, causing the infection to rage like EDM, and risking temporary or permanent hearing injury. And this is coming from someone dumb enough to push my ears to the limit.
It may seem like a good idea at the time, but when you have pus dripping out of your ear later, you really re-evaluate.
Listen up folks,
*merbabe (just wants the best for your aural health).