Ear pain after freediving

Ear pain after freediving: main causes

Freediving is an exciting activity that allows a person to explore the underwater world and experience many positive emotions. However, sometimes after surfacing, an unpleasant pain arises in the ears.
This thrilling sport involves diving under water and breath-holding. Despite all the benefits, freediving carries certain risks. One such risk is the onset of ear pain after diving. This can spoil the diving experience and cause anxiety for the diver. Let's figure out why ear pain occurs after freediving and how to minimize such problems.

Hypothermia and moisture

The pain can be caused by hypothermia and moisture in the outer ear. If after diving the ears are not dried properly, and then exposed to cold air or draft, this can provoke an inflammatory process, which can subsequently lead to problems with pressure equalization in the middle ear and cause barotrauma.

The importance of ear equalization

To avoid ear problems, it is important to understand how our ear is structured and why such a procedure as ear blowing is needed at all.

The fact is that when diving under water, our body experiences increased pressure due to the large mass of the water column. The air in the cavities of the middle ear is compressed, and the water pressure presses on the eardrum. This can cause pain and even rupture of the eardrum.

Equalizing the ears allows you to equalize the pressure inside and outside the ear by pumping air into the middle ear through the Eustachian tube. Passing through it, the air compensates for pressure differences and prevents excessive compression. Thus, equalization protects the structures of the middle ear and the eardrum from injury. Read more about equalization techniques in the article “Equalization techniques in freediving: master the essential methods.”

Mastering the proper equalization technique is a prerequisite for comfortable and safe diving. This skill will minimize the risk of pain and other problems associated with pressure changes underwater. In our school, as part of freediving courses, we necessarily study and practice methods of equalizing pressure in the middle ear.

Injury to the eardrum

Pain can also be a consequence of a previous injury to the eardrum. When diving to depth, the water pressure on it increases. If a compensating maneuver is not done in time, excessive stretching and even rupture of the eardrum occurs. This causes acute pain in the ear.

In a previously damaged eardrum, strength and elasticity are weakened. Therefore, even a small pressure difference can be enough to cause severe discomfort. In addition, the integrity of the tympanic cavity is impaired, which is why pressure equalization processes occur worse.

In such cases, it is especially important to be extremely careful and thoroughly perform compensating actions when diving. A gradual depth gain and refusal of forced dives are necessary until the injury is fully healed. Consult your doctor to determine the optimal tactics and timing for returning to active diving.

Pain in the frontal region

Pain in the frontal region or under the eyes after diving is also often the result of insufficiently compensated pressure in the nasal sinuses and frontal bone. As a rule, this occurs if the sinuses are inflamed or a person was sick and has not yet fully recovered.

With inflammation, the mucous membrane of the sinuses swells and impedes pressure equalization through the ostia. In addition, in a diseased state, the function of the muscles involved in this process is impaired.

To prevent pain, it is necessary to completely cure the infection before returning to active diving. With even minimal symptoms of SARS, it is better to refrain from diving in order not to risk barotrauma. Health is more precious than momentary adrenaline under water!

Recommendations for preventing pain

  • Remember that the key to safety and comfort when diving is the gradual development of depths and development of pressure equalization skills. Do not rush to dive to 20 meters if you previously descended to a maximum of 5 meters. Give yourself time to gradually gain experience. And of course, never neglect thorough equalization before each dive.
  • Adhere to the principle of gradualness and always increase the depth by no more than 2-3 meters at a time. Take several training dives to a new depth before trying to reach your maximum. This will allow the body to adapt and develop the necessary skills.
  • Be sure to allow enough time to rest between dives. Never ignore emerging discomfort in the ears, frontal sinuses, or during equalization. It is better to interrupt the session than to receive a serious injury. Remember that health and safety are always more important than records.


If pain still occurs in the ears after surfacing - do not panic, but do not ignore it either. Allow the ears to rest for a few days before diving again. With prolonged or very severe pain, be sure to consult an otolaryngologist. Do not use any medical preparations without consulting a specialist.

The main thing is not to risk your health for the sake of fleeting impressions under water. Remember that returning to freediving is possible only after a full recovery. Take care of yourself and get only positive emotions from an exciting hobby!

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