Ear Disorders in Scuba Divers

MH Azizi

Abstract


History of underwater diving dates back to antiquity. Breath-hold technique in diving was known to the ancient nations. However, deep diving progressed only in the early decades of the 19th century as the result of advancements in efficient underwater technologies which subsequently led to invention of sophisticated sets of scuba diving in the 20th century. Currently, diving is performed for various purposes including commercial, recreational, military, underwater construction, oil industry, underwater archeology and scientific assessment of marine life. By increasing popularity of underwater diving, dive-related medical conditions gradually became more evident and created a new challenge for the health care professionals, so that eventually, a specialty the so-called “diving medicine” was established. Most of the diving-associated disorders appear in the head and neck. The most common of all occupational disorders associated with diving are otologic diseases. External otitis has been reported as the most common otolaryngologic problem in underwater divers. Exostosis of the external ear canal may be formed in divers as the result of prolonged diving in cold waters. Other disorders of the ear and paranasal sinuses in underwater divers are caused by barometric pressure change (i.e., barotraumas), and to a lesser extent by decompression sickness. Barotrauma of the middle ear is the most prevalent barotrauma in divers. The inner ear barotraumas, though important, is less common. The present paper is a brief overview of diving-related ear disorders particularly in scuba divers.

Keywords


Scuba diving; external otitis; exostosis; ear barotrauma

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 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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