Yesterday a teenage boy and his mother came into Seal Sports to try on wetsuits for waterskiing. During their visit, the young man expressed his excitement to be around all of the neat equipment and see the scuba diving footage being played on the big screens. He said that he’d love to scuba dive but couldn’t because of his ears. After a few pointed questions, I learned that he had no past medical issues with his ears; that he simply thought that it would be impossible to scuba dive due to the pain that he had experienced in the past while snorkeling.
His comment caused me to pause and reflect that over my 29 years of diving, this has been the most pervasive myth about scuba diving that I have encountered. Although usually false, many people believe that diving is out of their reach, due to ‘ear issues’. Wow… to think this young man, so fascinated and excited about the undersea world, had eliminated himself from one of the most beautiful experiences that life has to offer. It’s really very unfortunate that people believe this, and often entirely false.
Yes, the effects of pressure while descending can cause pain and discomfort in your ears to a large degree (explained by Boyle’s Law) if you’re not properly trained in the techniques used to equalize these air spaces. The theory and techniques are introduced as early as chapter one in the PADI Open Water Diver course. With the proper training and with practice equalizing, I have found that 99% of people can and do overcome this issue. Scuba diving is a sport and past time that can be practiced by nearly everyone, and overcoming this specific obstacle is one that we focus on in our classes at Seal Sports.
I was pleased to share this news with the young man referenced above. He left with a big smile on his face, and the renewed hope that he will be able to join in the discovery and adventure that so many of us have experienced. It is my great hope that no one will eliminate the possibility of being able to scuba dive due to past issues with pain or pressure in the ears. It’s all about proper training, and a good instructor. –Rob Kohl
If you’d like to learn more visit “The Diver's Complete Guide To the Ear”.
Rob Kohl, Owner Seal Sports