Learning to Adapt
As divers, we must adapt to an environment that exerts pressure on our bodies. The most common injuries reported to DAN each year involve pressure-related injuries to divers' ears and sinuses. A little education and common sense will go a long way to avoid these problems. Take a minute to read this page. DAN, your dive store and your instructor want your scuba adventures to be enjoyable and safe.
Sinus and Middle Ear Injuries
Barotrauma is a pressure-related injury. Middle ear barotrauma, known as "ear squeeze," is the most common diving injury. Sinus barotrauma also occurs, but is less common. How does it happen? Pressure changes when diving cause barotrauma. During descent, air spaces in the sinuses and middle ear must be able to equalize to the surrounding water pressure, which increases with depth. When pressure in air spaces can't equalize, the diver may sense pressure or pain from one of these areas. During ascent, if the expanding air can't be vented, the cavity pressure increases, resulting in discomfort. This type of injury can range in severity - from mild to extreme. A sinus or middle ear injury may occur suddenly and lead to inner ear damage. For this reason, divers should know and use the "clearing," or equalizing, maneuver that works best for them.