Mystery ear pain

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Staff member
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New York City
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Again, I'm beyond grateful for everyone's input. Based on everything I've learned, my takeaways from this experience are:

1. Even if aided by some pre-existing inflammation, the root cause of my daughter's [presumed] barotrauma was likely a delayed or improper equalization on her first dive.

2. Repeated attempts to return to depth, both in the quarry and subsequently in the pool were foolish and likely increased the severity of any barotrauma (as well as prolonged the necessary recovery time).

3. Based on the presentation of her injury & symptoms, as well as lack of any previous ear issues, there is no clear indication for the use of any otic drops or other medication.

4. There seems to be no recommended treatment for her injury other than the prevention of further pressure until it has healed.

Everything makes sense, however, one thing I'm still unclear about is how to assess her recovery. I understand that it may take a long time for her to completely heal, and I certainly won't rush her to get back in the water. That being said, when the time does come for the next attempted dive, what (if any) methods are recommended for ensuring that she will be safe/comfortable? How long of a hiatus is sufficient for us to begin planning for another dive without worrying if she'll experience the same pain (and to a lesser importance, wasting the time/money on preparing for dive only to abort it)?

Thanks again!

Hard to give specific advice without seeing her ears, but in general this isn't a very long drawn out recovery. If she no longer has any symptoms, if someone who knows how to examine ears has confirmed that there isn't a perforation (sounds unlikely given what you said), then I would just try it in a pool to see if she can equalize before doing a trip. Unfortunately, there is no way of guaranteeing that, but presumably if she is certified, she was able to do it at one point...


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Philadelphia, PA
# of dives
25 - 49
Awesome, thanks again!

@doctormike - She is completely asymptomatic when not at depth (or ascending/descending in a 747 lol). I already told her I'm finding a new buddy for the 24th and she's fine with waiting until we [hopefully] get to visit her big sis in Ft. Lauderdale for a thanksgiving dive. I assume that, without any additional aggravation, that should be an adequate recovery time.

@Duke Dive Medicine - We'll go with "misguided" in place of "foolish" :D, but agreed - as a relatively inexperienced diver myself, this is amazing insight to add to my knowledge base!

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