Diving and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: 10 Things You Need to Know

Diving and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
8 Aug 2018

Diving and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: 10 Things You Need to Know

There is beauty below the ocean’s surface. People experience aquatic life and scenery through diving. Diving can be an amazing hobby, but without proper preparation, it can turn dangerous. One lesser known injury that can occur when diving is damage to your ears. Specifically eustachian tube dysfunction. Do you have a diving trip coming up? Maybe it will be your first time in the deep blue? If so, keep reading for ten facts you should know about your ear tubes!

1. Starts with Your Nose

The Eustachian tube actually starts in the back of your nose near your soft palate. It then extends upwards, stopping in the middle ear.

2. Mostly Closed

These tubes are actually closed most of the time. They open up whenever you yawn, chew, or swallow. This process allows them to regulate the pressure inside your ear.

3. Double Material

Most of the tube structure is made up of cartilage. About a third of it is made of bone.

4. Size

For most adults, the tube is around 1.3 inches long and less than 3 mm across.

5. Damage Risk Factors for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

It’s fairly normal to experience tube dysfunction at least one point in your life. But certain factors raise your risk of having more frequent issues.

Smokers and people who are overweight are more at risk. Overweight people have a higher risk because fatty tissue deposits can easily clog up the tubes.

Anyone who struggles with severe allergies is more likely to have trouble also.

6. Activities

Certain activities are also known to put you at risk to experience tube pain or dysfunction. These include diving as mentioned, but also hiking, rock climbing, and skiing and snowboarding.

7. Symptoms to Know

Any time you are diving, you should be aware of the symptoms of eustachian tube problems. Common ones include ears that feel filled with water or plugged, ringing in the ear, or ticking and popping noises.

You may also have a tingling feeling or trouble balancing. How long you have symptoms will depend on the underlying reason and cause.

8. Similar to the Nose

Your Eustachian tube is lined with organic material that is like the inside of your nose. This is why it can swell or produce mucus when your nose does.

This is also why the tube can become clogged when you are suffering from a cold.

9. Children Are More Susceptible

Young children are more likely to experience a blockage because they have narrower tubes. The opening of the eustachian tube is also very close to the adenoids, which can harbor bacteria.

10. Simple Solutions

For mild tube pain, simply swallowing is often enough to open up the tube. Yawning is better because it uses an even stronger muscle. This is why people yawn on flights when their ears pop.

Time to Dive and Keep Your Ears Safe

By now you should have all the facts straight about eustachian tube dysfunction. You should also understand why you must be careful when diving. While ear problems can occur, diving is a wonderful activity to do with loved ones. Looking for more information in order to prepare for your next dive? Check out our list of the most common diving hand signals you definitely should know!