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September 29, 2015

Devices to Help with Eustachian Tube Dysfunction During Airflight and SCUBA

EarPlanes Ear Plugs
It is not uncommon that patients who suffer from eustachian tube dysfunction resulting in symptoms of clogged ears and inability to pop them easily participate in activities that WILL worsen their ear problems. Such common activities include SCUBA diving and airplane flying.

Of course, treatment of eustachian tube dysfunction is best, but may take several weeks, and that airplane flight or SCUBA diving trip is happening in a few days before resolution is expected.

In this situation, cutting a hole in the eardrum with or without placement of a tube would prevent the painful ear squeeze by preventing any pressure from building up within the ear. This WILL absolutely work. However, many individuals absolutely refuse this course of action believing it to be too invasive. Furthermore, SCUBA divers are at risk for ear infections should any (dirty) water enter the ear canal. Typical precautionary steps divers would take to prevent water entry into the ear canal include use of ear plugs and a hood.

So what else can be done to minimize ear discomfort?

Here are two products that may help, but be aware, it may only partially or not work at all resulting in significant ear discomfort.

EarPlanes

This device is for those who are flying. It works by significantly slowing down the pressure changes in the ear during airflight elevation changes via a valve within the plug allowing more time for a patient to equilibrate their ears. So rather than rapid ear pressure changes that occur with rapid elevation changes during airflight, use of these plugs will make the experience more akin to driving up/down a mountain. Available for purchase in most gift shots in the airport as well as on Amazon for both adults / kids.




Vented Ear Plugs for SCUBA

These earplugs are the water version of EarPlanes and work similarly.  It works by significantly slowing down the pressure changes in the ear during water pressure changes when going underwater via a valve within the plug allowing more time for a patient to equilibrate their ears.




Pro Ear Mask

This is obviously for the SCUBA divers. It basically is a SCUBA mask with watertight ear muffs. The ear component of the mask prevents water pressure being transmitted into the ear. Available for purchase on Amazon.



Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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